Archive | MTSU Basketball

Richmond commits to MT men’s hoops

Richmond commits to MT men’s hoops

Posted on 23 May 2014 by Allen

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The Middle Tennessee men’s basketball program and head coach Kermit Davis added Wesleyan Christian Academy point guard JaQuel Richmond to the 2014-15 recruiting class as announced Wednesday morning.

JaQuel Richmond
Guard / 6-1 / Greensboro, N.C. / Wesleyan Christian

In his four-year career at Wesleyan Christian Academy, Richmond has led the Trojans to two state championship titles in 2013 and 2014. As a junior, he helped Wesleyan to the NCISA Class3A crown, scoring a team-leading 18 points in the championship game against Greensboro Day Academy.

The Greensboro, N.C., native is a three-star ranked recruit by ESPN, Rivals.com and Scout.com. MaxPreps.com ranked him second in the state of North Carolina and 85th in the nation. He was also recruited by Houston, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Florida State and Creighton.

“He’s very quick with the basketball, a good defender and just very athletic on both sides of the ball,” said Wesleyan Christian Academy Head Coach Keith Gatlin. “He’s a coachable young man, very competitive. He bought into our system and had four really good years for us. I think Middle Tennessee is a great fit for him. He has work to do coming into such a strong program, but he’s up for the challenge.”

Richmond missed six weeks of his senior season due to a hamstring injury. Upon his return to the court, he averaged 9.0 points per game. He put up big numbers early in the season and during his junior year, scoring 23 points in Wesleyan’s 2013-14 season opener.

Davis on Richmond: “We’re really excited about having JaQuel join our program. JaQuel signed with Houston in November during the early signing period. Obviously, Ronnie Hamilton on our staff recruited JaQuel to Houston. As it happens in a lot of cases during coaching changes, JaQuel requested his release. He and his parents visited this past weekend and had a great visit. They obviously trust Ronnie (Hamilton) a lot in the process and he signed with Middle Tennessee. JaQuel is a guy who has won two state championships and played at a really high level in high school. He’s a very athletic point guard, about 6-1 and 180 pounds. He’s extremely fast with the ball, ultra-competitive and we think he’ll really fit in with our style of play. He’s played for Keith Gatlin, who played at Maryland and in the NBA. Keith’s done a great job with his program at Wesleyan so JaQuel has been coached at a high-level too, which was a great interest to us.”

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Raiders add Hamilton to coaching staff

Raiders add Hamilton to coaching staff

Posted on 07 May 2014 by Allen

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The Middle Tennessee men’s basketball program and head coach Kermit Davis announced the hiring of Ronnie Hamilton as an assistant coach Tuesday afternoon.

Hamilton, a native of Oxford, N.C., comes to Murfreesboro well acquainted with Conference USA after stints at Houston and Tulane. He joins the Blue Raider coaching staff after a two-year stop at Houston.

“We’re really excited about having Ronnie join our staff,” said MT head coach Kermit Davis. “He’s an extremely impressive young coach that has done very well recruiting and is an excellent coach on the floor with stops at The Citadel, Tulane and Houston. We think Ronnie will fit in very nicely with our staff and will bring great enthusiasm to our program.”

Davis’ Blue Raiders posted a 24-9 record this season for the program’s third-straight 20-win season. With a 13-3 record in C-USA play during the 2013-14 campaign, Middle Tennessee earned a share of the Conference USA regular season championship, marking its third-straight regular season conference title and fourth in the last five years.

“I’m really excited to be able to get a chance to join Coach Davis’ staff,” Hamilton said. “Coach Davis has built Middle Tennessee into a championship level program and I’m really excited about the opportunity to help him continue the level of success he has built during his tenure here.”

During the 2012-13 season, Hamilton helped the Cougars post a 20-13 record and a 7-9 mark in C-USA play before making the move to the American Athletic Conference this past season.

In his first season with Houston, Hamilton worked closely with guard Joseph Young, who was named to the All-Conference USA Third Team and was selected to the USBWA All-District VII squad. During the 2012-13 campaign, Hamilton also worked closely with Danuel House, who went on to garner C-USA Freshman of Year honors, marking a program first for Houston in C-USA.

Prior to his two years at Houston, Hamilton spent a pair of years on the Tulane coaching staff. With the Green Wave, he played a large role in recruiting 2012 All-Conference USA First Team honoree and C-USA Freshman of the Year Ricky Tarrant. Hamilton was also heavily involved in recruiting Josh Davis, who was a First Team All-C-USA player during the 2012-13 season.

The Oxford, N.C., native spent two years as an assistant at The Citadel, where he was instrumental in the development and recruitment of All-Southern Conference selection and mid-major All-Americans Demetrius Nelson, John Brown, Michael Groselle and Cameron Wells. While on the Bulldog coaching staff, Hamilton helped lead The Citadel to 36 wins, including a school-record tying 20 wins during the 2008-09 campaign.

Hamilton made his way to Charleston, S.C., after a three-year stint at Division II member Tarleton State from 2005-08. The Texans posted a 70-23 record, picking up wins against Baylor and TCU during his tenure in Stephenville, Texas. In 2005-06, Tarleton State made the program’s second-straight Elite Eight appearance and posted a 27-7 overall record.

In 2005, Hamilton graduated with his master’s in physical education with a concentration in sports administration from UNC Pembroke, where he served as a graduate assistant coach for the Braves from 2003-05. As a GA at Pembroke, he was responsible for planning practices, leading on-floor coaching, heading up the strength and condition program and handling film exchange, while also serving at the recruiting coordinator.

He received his bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Duke in 2002. Hamilton was a four-year letterman for the Blue Devil football team as a defensive back.

Hamilton is married to the former Christabell Mariner and they have a 15 month-old daughter named Annalisa Nola Afakasi.

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Raiders add three to 2014-15 signing class

Raiders add three to 2014-15 signing class

Posted on 16 April 2014 by Allen

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The Middle Tennessee men’s basketball program and head coach Kermit Davis added three student-athletes to the 2014-15 recruiting class Wednesday, joining six others who signed National Letters of Intent during the early signing period back in November.

The newest signees of the MT recruiting class consist of a junior college transfer, a high school senior and a graduate transfer. They will suit up for the Raiders next season alongside four junior college transfers and two high school players hailing from Davis’ home state of Mississippi.

Giddy Potts
Guard / 6-1 / Athens, Ala. / Athens HS

Potts is one of three players in the state of Alabama currently in the running for the title of Mr. Basketball. He led Athens High School in a deep postseason run this year, eliminating the three-time defending state champion on the way to advancing to the Class 5A Northwest Regional final. The guard paced Athens, averaging 20.8 points per game during his senior campaign. He was second on the team in rebounding, pulling down 8.0 boards a contest.

The Athens, Ala., native can play both the point guard and shooting guard positions on the floor. Potts is a strong three-point shooter, draining 66 treys this season, while also managing to get into the lane and play above the rim. Since January of 2012, Potts has been held to single-digits in just four games.

Davis on Potts: “Obviously Giddy is a really strong, physical guard; he’s about 6-2 and 230 pounds, an excellent shooter. Everyone around the state talks about how tough he is. He’s got great character. He played for an outstanding high school coach in Stace Tedford, who has won a lot of games. We really think Giddy has a chance to help our team as a freshman.”

Perrin Buford
Guard/Forward / 6-7 / Decatur, Ala. / Southwest Tennessee

Buford will join his Southwest Tennessee Community College teammate DeVante Jones (DJ) at MT next season. Jones signed with the Blue Raiders during the early signing period and the two were counted among the best JuCo players in the state of Tennessee this past season. Buford was an All-Tennessee Community College Athletic Association First Team selection this year. He averaged 14.0 points per game and dished out a team-best 3.6 assists during his sophomore campaign, while scoring double-figures in 22 of 26 games.

Before playing with the Saluqis, Buford played with Jones at Motlow State Community College as freshmen. Buford was named first team All-TCCAA during the 2012-13 season, averaging 10.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 blocks a game. He led the team to a 26-4 record, the TCCAA/Region VII Championship title and a berth in the NJCAA National Tournament.

Davis on Buford: “Perrin Buford visited our place in the fall. We’ve been recruiting Perrin for a long time and we’ve always loved his talent. He’s long and can play multiple positions. He could end up being the best passer on our team. He’s a really skilled forward and won a lot of games over the last two years in junior college. He’s also played for an excellent junior college coach in Jerry Nichols.”

Jalen Steele
Guard / 6-3 / Knoxville, Tenn. / Mississippi State

Steele will finish his undergraduate degree from Mississippi State this summer and finish out his eligibility as a graduate student at Middle Tennessee next season. At Mississippi State, he averaged 10.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game during the 2012-13 campaign. A torn ACL at the end of his junior year sidelined Steele and he missed the 2013-14 season, but the guard is back to full strength.

He scored double-figures 10 times in just 18 games of action during the 2012-13 campaign. Steele led the team in free throw percentage in SEC games, shooting .903-percent from the line (28-of-31). The guard’s SEC highlights include, scoring a career-best 21 points at Georgia Jan. 12, 2013. He finished his sophomore season with the Bulldogs, putting up 8.7 points a contest and snagging 1.8 boards an outing. He drained a career-high five three-pointers three times, including a 15-point effort at Vanderbilt Jan. 21, 2012. In the 2012 SEC Tournament, Steele put up 19 points against Georgia, going 6-for-12 from the floor. As a freshman, he recorded 17 points at Kentucky Feb. 15, 2011 on 6-of-9 shooting, including five made three-pointers.

Davis on Steele: “Jalen Steele, obviously has had a lot success at a very high-level at Mississippi State. He won two state championships at Fulton High School. We’ve been following Jalen since his sophomore year. He’s an excellent scorer, excellent shooter. Jalen is coming off of a knee injury, but he looks great. I know he is so hungry to get back on the court. Jalen has to finish his degree at Mississippi State this summer and we really look forward to getting him here to provide us with not only a really talented player, but a guy that I think will provide us with really strong leadership.”

Potts, Buford and Steele complete the Blue Raiders’ recruiting class. They join JuCo guard Jones, JuCo forward Xavier Habersham, JuCo forward Darnell Harris, high school guard Jacob Ivory, high school guard Ed Simpson and JuCo forward Shaheed Davis.

“We feel really, really good about our class,” Coach Davis said. “We think we’ve fulfilled a number of needs and have added great depth to our program. I think a sign of winning programs is when you can absorb the loss of good players graduating, can replace those players with a talented recruiting class and obviously have those returning players continue to get better and play at a high level the next year. I think that’s where we are. Our returning players have worked extremely hard this spring and all have an opportunity to play key roles next season, but I do think this group of newcomers has a chance to be very successful. They need to all have great summers and quickly adapt to the pace of high-level Division I practice. Like all newcomers, their success depends on how good of physical condition they can get in and how receptive to coaching they can be on a day-to-day basis. Once again, we have a group of student-athletes with very high character and we look forward to having a great summer. Our goals have not changed at all; we’re trying to become the best team we can be every day and win another Conference USA Championship with the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament.”

According to HoopScoopOnline.com, the 2014-15 Blue Raider recruiting class is one of the best signing classes in C-USA and ranks among the top 25 in the country.

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Jones invited to Portsmouth Invitational

Jones invited to Portsmouth Invitational

Posted on 15 April 2014 by Allen

Shawn Jones MTSU

Senior Shawn Jones of the Middle Tennessee men’s basketball team (24-9, 13-3 C-USA) was selected to participate in the 62nd Portsmouth Invitational Tournament April 16-19.

The four-day event will take place at the Churchland High School Sports Complex in Portsmouth, Va. The 64 player roster for the 2014 PIT was released Monday and Jones was assigned to the eight-player Roger Brown’s Restaurant team.

“It means a lot to be invited up here for the PIT,” Jones said. “Everybody wants to be up here, but only a select few get to play here so it’s an honor for me.”

Jones is the only player from Conference USA to receive an invitation to the 2014 PIT. The 2014 C-USA Player of the Year is one of five players participating in the Portsmouth Inviational from programs here in Tennessee. MT’s big man is joined by Belmont’s J.J. Mann, Memphis’ Joe Jackson, Chattanooga’s Z. Mason and Tennessee State’s Patrick Miller. Jackson joined Jones in the NABC Reese’s All-Star Game during the Final Four earlier this month.

“The All-Star Game was a fun experience for me,” Jones said. “I met some new teammates and West Coast coaches. Getting to play at AT&T Stadium was an amazing experience. That really got me back to playing five-on-five and playing with other people that are all pushing toward the same goal. At the All-Star game, I got to play with teammates that will also be in Portsmouth with me so that helped prepare me for the PIT. I’m just looking forward to the exposure to coaches from overseas and NBA coaches. I just want to show that I’m prepared to play at the next level.”

Jones played all four years at Middle Tennessee and has enjoyed the family atmosphere built with his teammates. In a relatively short period of time, he had to adjust to a new set of teammates at the All-Star Game after just two practices in Texas. Now, he’s faced with a similar challenge at the PIT this week.

“We haven’t had any practice time so far because we play tomorrow night. It’s my first time getting out and playing with a new set of teammates in about four years so hopefully we’ll just get out there and click from game one.”

Jones’ Roger Brown’s Restaurant team is slated to play in game two of the PIT Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST, taking on Portsmouth Sports Club. The Portsmouth Sports Club team features Chattanooga’s Mason and players from Notre Dame, Cincinnati and NCAA Tournament darling Mercer.

Each year the PIT invites 64 of the best college basketball seniors from across the nation to participate in a four-day, twelve game tournament in front of representatives from every NBA team. Over the years the PIT has been a showcase for five of the 50 greatest players in NBA History (Rick Barry, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Dave Cowens, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen) and for many others who have gone on to NBA stardom.

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Rowe named WBCA All-America Honorable Mention

Rowe named WBCA All-America Honorable Mention

Posted on 06 April 2014 by Allen

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Middle Tennessee senior forward Ebony Rowe garnered All-America Honorable Mention, as announced by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) on Saturday.

This marks the second year that Rowe has earned that recognition. Earlier this week, Rowe was tabbed for AP All-America Honorable Mention for the second consecutive year.

The Lexington, Ky., native ranked in the NCAA Top 25 in four statistical categories. Her school-record 26 double-doubles this season was fourth nationally. She ranked 13th with 735 points, 12th with 11.6 rebounds per game and 20th with 21.6 points each contest.

This season, Rowe has garnered numerous awards including the Conference USA Player of the Year and the C-USA Championship MVP. She was also a unanimous All-CUSA First Team selection, while garnering All-Defensive team accolades. Rowe garnered WBCA All-Region honors for the third straight year. College Sports Madness named Rowe the High-Major Player of the Year and a grabbed spot on the High-Major All-America Team. She was tabbed the NCAA Player of the Week on Dec. 3, while earning four C-USA Player of the Week awards. Rowe’s performance at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Fla., gave her MVP honors.

Rowe joins Alysha Clark to grab back-to-back WBCA All-America Honorable Mention honors. FIU’s Jerica Coley and Rowe were the two representatives from Conference USA.

Rowe finished her illustrious career with a school record 2,453 points and 1,410 rebounds. In addition to those two records, she holds 13 other school records including the single-season rebounding and double-doubles mark.

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Jones to participate in All-Star game at the Final Four

Jones to participate in All-Star game at the Final Four

Posted on 01 April 2014 by Allen

Shawn Jones MTSU

Senior Shawn Jones of the Middle Tennessee men’s basketball team (24-9, 13-3 C-USA) will participate in the 2014 Reese’s Division I College All-Star Game as announced by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Tuesday morning.

The NABC All-Star game will be played as part of the Final Four Friday at the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. The contest will take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, beginning at 4:30 p.m.

“Being selected for the NABC All-Star game is one of the highest honors any senior college basketball player can receive,” said MT head coach Kermit Davis. “I’m extremely happy for Shawn (Jones). He’s so deserving of this selection and it’s also a great reflection of our Middle Tennessee basketball program.”

This marks the fourth postseason honor for Jones as the MT big man’s accolades started to pour in after earning Conference USA First Team honors. He was also named the 2014 C-USA Player of the Year and was a NABC All-District First Team selection.

The Hialeah, Fla., native’s awards come after he led the Blue Raiders to a share of the regular season C-USA title, marking their third-straight regular season conference championship and fourth in the last five years. He led Middle Tennessee to a 24-9 record on the season, helping MT to its third-straight 20-win season and becoming a part of the winningest class is program history along the way with 95 wins.

Jones was a three-time C-USA Player of the Week award winner and led Middle Tennessee in points, rebounds and blocked shots. He paced MT this season with 14.2 points per game and 15.1 points an outing in league play, while leading the Blue Raiders on the boards with 8.5 rebounds a game and 8.1 boards per contest in C-USA games. The 6-foot-8 forward posted 63 blocks on the year to average 1.9 swats per game and 2.5 in conference play. In C-USA only games, he ranked seventh in scoring, fifth in rebounding and second in blocked shots.

According the NCAA statistical rankings released March 24, Jones ranks 18th in the nation in field goal percentage and second in C-USA, shooting 57.7-percent from the floor. He ranks 50th in the nation and fourth in the conference with 10 double-doubles on the year.

The NABC All-Star rosters are composed of senior student-athletes in NCAA Division I. The teams consist of some of the nation’s top 21 seniors from schools including Memphis, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Baylor, Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Saint Louis, Indiana, VCU, Mercer, Pittsburgh and others. Jones will play on the 11 member Reese’s West All-Star Team under Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins.

Both the West and East teams will practice Wednesday and Thursday, before Friday’s game at 4:30 p.m. The Reese’s Division I College All-Star Game will be telecast on tape delay on Saturday, April 5 at noon EST on CBS.

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Tulane beats MTSU 2-0

Tulane beats MTSU 2-0

Posted on 22 March 2014 by Allen

mtsu bb

The Middle Tennessee baseball team fell to Tulane, 2-0, on Friday night at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. In the defeat, the Blue Raiders fall to 8-12 and 4-3 in Conference USA, while the Green Wave improve to 11-10 and 4-3 in conference play.

The Raiders fell despite a stellar outing from senior LHP Zac Curtis, who went seven innings, surrendering two runs on seven hits while striking out a career-high 11. Friday marked the fourth-straight outing in which Curtis has struck out nine or more.

Junior LF Jared Allen had three hits for the Blue Raiders in the defeat, including one in a ninth-inning rally in which the Raiders loaded the bases with two outs before Tulane closer Kyle McKenzie shut the door.

Tulane scored one in the second and one in the sixth for the two runs of the contest, with Green Wave 1B Garrett Deschamps scoring the first run and driving in the second.

Tyler Mapes tossed seven shutout innings for the victory before McKenzie tallied a six-out save. Curtis fell to 2-1 with the tough-luck loss.

The Blue Raiders return to action Saturday with a 2 p.m. first pitch in New Orleans. Senior RHP Paul Mittura will start for MT.

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Neiko Hunter named to C-USA All Tournament Team

Neiko Hunter named to C-USA All Tournament Team

Posted on 15 March 2014 by Allen

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Senior Neiko Hunter of the Middle Tennessee men’s basketball team (24-9, 13-3 C-USA) was named to the Conference USA Championship All-Tournament Team as announced by league office Saturday afternoon.

Hunter led the Blue Raiders in tournament play, averaging 17.5 points per game to go along with 6.5 rebound a contest in two games. He shot 51.9-percent from the floor and recorded three blocks, while going 5-for-5 from the line at the C-USA Championship.

The senior led Middle Tennessee in its 62-48 quarterfinal win over Old Dominion Thursday, putting up 16 points. He went 7-for-12 from the floor against the Monarchs, while swatting two blocks.

In MT’s semifinal game against Tulsa Friday, Hunter recorded his first career double-double. He tallied a team-high 19 points, while pulling down a career-best 10 rebounds. Against the Golden Hurricane, Hunter went 7-for-15 from the floor and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.

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No. 3-seed MTSU falls to No. 2-seed Tulsa in C-USA semifinal, 76-69

No. 3-seed MTSU falls to No. 2-seed Tulsa in C-USA semifinal, 76-69

Posted on 14 March 2014 by Allen

Shawn Jones MTSU

The No. 3-seed Middle Tennessee men’s basketball team (24-9, 13-4 C-USA) dropped a 76-69 decision to No. 2-seed Tulsa Friday in the semifinal round of the Conference USA Championship.

Middle Tennessee redshirt-sophomore Jaqawn Raymond posted a career-high 19 points, going 5-for-9 from behind the arc. His five treys tied his career-best, set at Marshall Feb. 22. Senior Neiko Hunter also posted 19 points to lead the Blue Raiders. Hunter recorded his first career double-double, pulling down a career-high 10 rebounds.

The contest opened as a back-and-forth affair, but Tulsa managed to string together a 14-3 run to close the first half. The Golden Hurricane took a 35-29 lead into the locker room at the half. The Blue Raiders led by as many as 10 points during the first half, before Tulsa’s run.

MT opened the second half with a little momentum and pulled within 38-37 with 15:45 to go. Both squads swapped points for a while and got into a little bit of foul trouble, before Tulsa used a 9-1 run to jump in front 62-52 with 3:58 remaining in the contest.

The Blue Raiders found themselves trying to play catchup from there after C-USA Player of the Year Shawn Jones fouled out with 4:59 left. He finished the night with eight points and six rebounds.

MT chipped away at the deficit and pulled within three-points at 70-67 with 29 seconds to go, but Tulsa answered with a dunk from Tim Peete to take a 72-67 advantage with 26 seconds remaining. The Raiders then fouled to stop the clock and Tulsa made free throws down the stretch to put the game away, claiming the seven-point victory.

MT shot 40.4-percent from the floor and 40.0-percent from behind the arc, while Tulsa was 46.0-percent from the floor and 27.3-percent from long distance. The Golden Hurricane outscored the Raiders in the paint 30-14, while MT claimed the battle of the boards 39-29.

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MTSU downs Old Dominion in C-USA Quarterfinal, 62-48

MTSU downs Old Dominion in C-USA Quarterfinal, 62-48

Posted on 13 March 2014 by Allen

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The No. 3-seeded Middle Tennessee men’s basketball team (24-8, 13-3 C-USA) picked up a 62-48 victory over No. 6-seed Old Dominion (16-17, 9-7 C-USA) in the quarterfinal round of the Conference USA Championship Thursday afternoon.

The Blue Raiders were led by four seniors posting double-figures as Neiko Hunter paced the team with 16 points, going 7-for-12 from the floor. Kerry Hammonds II and Tweety Knight tallied 11 points each, while C-USA Player of the Year Shawn Jones snagged a game-high 11 rebounds. Knight was a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor, while Hammonds went 4-for-9. Jones tallied eight points, going 4-for-7 from the floor.

“We talked about how the double-byes are great, so all season-long you fight and claw to try and get them and they’re great to try and win the tournament on the third day,” said MT head coach Kermit Davis. “Old Dominion came in with their head up, but we just did an unbelievable job on their perimeter guys. Aaron Bacote has been playing maybe as good as any perimeter guy in the league and to hold him scoreless tonight was remarkable.”

The Monarchs scored the first bucket of the contest with 19:06 on the clock in the first half. The 2-0 advantage would be the largest lead for ODU on the day as a Knight free throw and a Hunter layup up MT up 3-2 and the team never looked back.

MT pushed its lead to as many 15 points with 2:18 to go in the first half, but the Monarchs hit a pair of jumpers in the final 41 seconds of the opening frame to cut the Blue Raider advantage to 30-19 at halftime.

ODU’s Keenan Palmore hit a jumper to open the second half to cut the Monarch deficit to single-digits, but MT answered with a 12-2 run to push the Blue Raider lead to 42-23 with 16:27 to go. Old Dominion answered with a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to nine points once more with 12:32 on the clock.

The Blue Raiders ended the ODU spurt with a four-point play by Jaqawn Raymond to move the MT lead to 46-33 with 12:06 left. The Monarchs were never able to pull within single-digits again as the Raiders cruised to a 14-point victory. During regular season conference play, MT picked up a 16-point win at home Feb. 1 against ODU.

MT shot 54.3-percent from the floor and 40.0-percent from long distance, while ODU was 32.1-percent from floor and 26.7-percent from three-point range. The Blue Raiders outrebounded the Monarchs 36-28 and outscored them in the paint 30-10.

The Blue Raiders advance to the semifinals to face No. 2-seed Tulsa Friday at 3 p.m. CT. The contest will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

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Raiders fend off UAB in C-USA Quarterfinals

Raiders fend off UAB in C-USA Quarterfinals

Posted on 13 March 2014 by Allen

eb

Conference USA Player of the Year Ebony Rowe posted a double-double with game highs of 29 points and 15 rebounds as top-seeded and No. 20/22 ranked Middle Tennessee defeated No. 8 seed UAB, 69-59, in the 2014 C-USA Championship quarterfinals on Thursday morning at UTEP’s Memorial Gym.

The Blazers trailed by as many as six in the second half and rallied to tie the score at 50-all on a layup by Khoria Newman with 7:32 left in the contest. On the ensuing possession, however, Blue Raiders’ forward KeKe Stewart buried a 3-pointer from the left wing to give Middle Tennessee the lead for good.

Rowe’s double-double was the 24th of the season, one shy of tying Robin Hendrix’s single-season record of 25 set in 1981. Earlier in the day, Rowe was tabbed the College Sports Madness High Major Player of the Year. The Lexington, Ky., native also earned a spot on the CSM High Major All-America team.

In victory, Middle Tennessee runs its winning streak to nine, improves to 27-4 on the year and advances to the C-USA semifinals where the Blue Raiders will face the winner of Wednesday’s Tulane/FIU matchup. Thursday’s semifinal is slated for 10 a.m. CT in the Don Haskins Center and the game will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network. UAB, meanwhile, fell to 16-15 on the year and must await word of its postseason fate when the respective tournaments are announced on Monday, March 17.

UAB shot 42.3 percent from the field (22-of-52), including a 13-of-24 performance in the first half (.542), and turned 10 Blue Raiders’ turnovers into 15 points. Middle Tennessee countered by out-rebounding the Blazers, 42-28, turned 17 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points and held a 32-20 edge in points in the paint.

Stewart finished second to Rowe on the team offensively with 15 points, including a perfect 3-of-3 performance from beyond the 3-point arc. C-USA Freshman of the Year Olivia Jones added 11 rebounds and seven points, while Laken Leonard handed out a game-high five assists.

It was a game of runs early on as UAB scored the first six points before Middle Tennessee come right back with eight consecutive points of its own to claim a two-point lead 4:17 into the contest. The two teams traded buckets over the next five and a half minutes before the Blazers used a 10-3 run to take a six-point edge at 26-20 with 7:33 to play in the opening stanza. UAB’s half dozen advantage remained one minute later at 28-22, but Middle Tennessee outscored the Blazers 14-6 over the final six and half minutes of the period to go into halftime on top, 36-34.

The Blue Raiders stretched the lead to seven with five straight points to open the second half only to see UAB answer with a 7-0 run to tie things up at 41-all with 14:22 to play. Middle Tennessee extended its lead to six twice in the middle portion of the period at 48-42 with 12:21 left to play and again at 50-44 just under two and a half minutes later. From there, UAB got back-to-back baskets by Karisma Chapman to make it a two-point affair and set up Newman’s game-tying bucket.

Following Stewart’s go-ahead trey, UAB hung tough for a while and Middle Tennessee clung to a 59-57 lead with 3:23 remaining in regulation. The Blue Raiders quieted any talks of a Blazers upset as Jones converted a layup and Rowe followed with a 3-point play and a jumper to make it a nine-point affair.

UAB got a layup from Newman with 1:13 to cut the deficit to seven, but Middle Tennessee hit three of its four free throw opportunities the rest of the way to account for the final score.

Ashley Grimes led three Blazers in double figures with 21 points while Chapman and Chelsee Black finished with totals of 16 and 12, respectively. Chaplman paced UAB with nine assists and four steals, and shared team-high assist honors with Black at three apiece.

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Shawn Jones named Conference USA Player of the Year

Shawn Jones named Conference USA Player of the Year

Posted on 12 March 2014 by Allen

Shawn Jones MTSU

Senior Shawn Jones of the Middle Tennessee men’s basketball team (23-8, 13-3 C-USA) was named the 2013-14 Conference USA Player of the Year as announced by the league office Wednesday.

This marks the first time in school history the Blue Raiders have swept conference player of the year honors for both the men’s and women’s teams as Ebony Rowe was named C-USA Women’s Basketball Player of the Year earlier this week.

Jones picked up Player of the Year accolades after leading the Blue Raiders to a share of the regular season C-USA title, marking their third-straight regular season conference championship and fourth in the last five years. The All-C-USA First Team selection was a three-time C-USA Player of the Week and paced Middle Tennessee this season with 14.5 points per game and 15.1 points an outing in league play.

The Hialeah, Fla., native becomes the fifth player in program history and second in the last three years to earn conference player of the year honors, following one Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and three Ohio Valley Conference Players of the Year. LaRon Dendy earned the award in the Sun Belt in 2012, George Sorrell in the OVC in 1975, Tim Sisneros in the OVC in 1976 and Jerry Beck in the OVC in 1981 and 1982.

“Player of the Year candidates usually have the most impact on winning on their team than anyone in the league and I know there are some really, really good players in Conference USA and no guy was more valuable to us winning the league than Shawn Jones,” said MT head coach Kermit Davis. “I just think Players of the Year can affect the game on both ends, on high field goal percentage, rebounding, points scored, but what he really did to affect the game is being second in our league in blocked shots so he was a big part of anchoring our defense.”

Jones leads the Blue Raiders on the boards, pulling down 8.5 rebounds a game and 8.1 boards per contest in C-USA games. He led MT in blocked shots with 61 on the year to average 2.0 swats per game and 2.5 in conference play. In C-USA only games, he ranks seventh in scoring, fifth in rebounding and second in blocked shots.

According the NCAA statistical rankings released March 9, Jones ranks 19th in the nation in field goal percentage and second in C-USA, shooting 58.1-percent from the floor. The 6-foot-8 senior ranks 46th in the nation and fourth in the conference with 10 double-doubles on the year.

“The last thing I’d like to say about Shawn Jones is that people who just watch him play have no idea just what a great person he is,” Davis said. “He’s going to graduate on time and he’s just the most receptive guy to coaching we’ve ever had at Middle Tennessee, just the most low-maintenance person so he just defines what a great student-athlete should be.”

Jones helped MT secure a double-bye in the C-USA Championship at the No. 3-seed in MT’s first year in the league. The Blue Raiders will open the C-USA Championship in El Paso, Texas with the quarterfinal round Thursday, March 13 at 3:30 p.m. CT, taking on the winner of the No. 14-seed Marshall and No. 6-seed Old Dominion contest Wednesday.

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Knight named to C-USA All-Defensive Team

Knight named to C-USA All-Defensive Team

Posted on 11 March 2014 by Jimmy

MTSU logo

Senior Tweety Knight of the Middle Tennessee men’s basketball team (23-8, 13-3 C-USA) was named to the Conference USA All-Defensive Team as announced by the league office Tuesday morning.

Knight picked up the All-Defensive honor after helping the Blue Raiders to a share of the regular season C-USA title, marking their third-straight regular season conference championship and fourth in the last five years. The point guard paces the Middle Tennessee defense that ranks second in C-USA in scoring defense, allowing 62.7 points per game. The team was fifth in the league in field goal percent defense with a .412 mark.

“Tweety (Knight) has started our defense all year long at the top,” said MT head coach Kermit Davis. “He’s an excellent on ball defender with great heart and toughness. This is a well deserved honor.”

The Rentz, Ga., native leads the Blue Raiders with 64 steals, ranking 30th in the nation and second in C-USA according to the NCAA statistical rankings released March 10. Knight is 32nd in the country and third in the conference, averaging 2.06 points per game. He swiped a career-best six steals against UTEP Jan. 16.

In addition to his defensive skills, Knight quarterbacks the Blue Raider offense. He ranks 62nd in the NCAA statistics and fourth in C-USA, handing out 64 total assists. Knight averages 4.7 assists per game to sit fourth in the league. He dished out a career-high 10 assists at Old Miss Dec. 14.

Knight helped MT secure a double-bye in the C-USA Championship at the No. 3-seed in MT’s first year in the league. The Blue Raiders will open the C-USA Championship in El Paso, Texas with the quarterfinal round Thursday, March 13 at 3:30 p.m. CT, taking on Florida Atlantic, Marshall or Old Dominion.

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MTSU’s Jones named C-USA First Team

MTSU’s Jones named C-USA First Team

Posted on 11 March 2014 by Jimmy

Shawn Jones MTSU

Senior Shawn Jones of the Middle Tennessee men’s basketball team (23-8, 13-3 C-USA) was named to the All-Conference USA First Team as announced by the league office Monday morning.

Jones picked up the all-conference honor after leading the Blue Raiders to a share of the regular season C-USA title, marking their third-straight regular season conference championship and fourth in the last five years. The three-time C-USA Player of the Week paced Middle Tennessee this season with 14.5 points per game and 15.1 points an outing in league play.

The Hialeah, Fla., native leads the Blue Raiders on the boards, pulling down 8.5 rebounds a game and 8.1 boards per contest in C-USA games. He led MT in blocked shots with 61 on the year to average 2.0 swats per game and 2.5 in conference play. In C-USA only games, he ranks seventh in scoring, fifth in rebounding and second in blocked shots.

“I just think it’s very well deserved,” said MT head coach Kermit Davis. “Shawn has had an unbelievable year, when you start looking at his stats for rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage, averaging 15-points a game. First Team All-League players effect he game on both ends and Shawn (Jones) has certainly done that.”

According the NCAA statistical rankings released March 7, Jones ranks 19th in the nation in field goal percentage and second in C-USA, shooting 58.1-percent from the floor. The 6-foot-8 senior ranks 43rd in the nation and fourth in the conference with 10 double-doubles on the year.

Jones helped MT secure a double-bye in the C-USA Championship at the No. 3-seed in MT’s first year in the league. The Blue Raiders will open the C-USA Championship in El Paso, Texas with the quarterfinal round Thursday, March 13 at 3:30 p.m. CT, taking on Florida Atlantic, Marshall or Old Dominion.

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Scores

Temple 37 Vanderbilt 7 F
Alabama 33 West Virginia 23 F
Arkansas 21 Auburn 45 F
LSU 28 Wisconsin 24

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