Middle Tennessee men’s basketball defense showed up in a big way in the first game of the season, holding Brescia to just 33.9 percent shooting from the floor in a 79-52 win at the Murphy Center.
The Blue Raiders, the first Division-I men’s basketball team to record a win in the 2022-23 season, took advantage of their inside presence in comparison to the NAIA Bearcats (1-1 in non-exhibitions), grabbing 46 boards to Brescia’s 27, including 19 offensive rebounds. MTSU’s press was in mid-season form early, helping force Brescia into 17 turnovers, resulting in 25 points for the Blue Raiders. Monday’s morning tipoff was the return of MTSU’s annual Education Day game, with a crowd of 7,047 mostly filled with classes from the Rutherford County School system.
The Blue Raiders took a 36-19 lead into the locker room at halftime after holding the Bearcats to 7-of-28 shooting (25 percent) in the first half. Using their size and speed advantage, MTSU got to the rack often, scoring 20 points in the paint in the first half. The Blue Raiders ended the night with 52 points in the paint.
Jestin Porter led all scorers in his MTSU debut with 14 points after getting the start at point guard, displaying great driving ability to finish the morning 6-for-10 shooting from the floor. Elias King earned player of the game honors off the bench, grabbing 10 points and seven rebounds while also recording an assist and steal. Teafale Lenard showed off some nice passing skills, leading all players with four assists while also scoring seven points and hauling in five rebounds.
By the Numbers
612: Days between collegiate games for Jared Coleman-Jones, who came off the bench for the Blue Raiders after missing all of last season due to injury. The Northwestern transfer scored four points and grabbed four rebounds on Monday.
59: All-time blocks for Teafale Lenard, who moved into a tie for ninth all-time in Blue Raider history with a block against the Bearcats. The mark ties Lenard with Kyle Young, who played for MTSU from 2001-2007.
26-9: The Blue Raiders’ advantage in second chance points on Monday, thanks to an active offensive rebounding presence. Brescia actually recorded more offensive rebounds than defensive rebounds
Blue Raider Notes
- MTSU improved to 65-35 in home openers.
- Monday’s game saw the NCAA debuts of Jestin Porter, TreVon Smith, and Isiah Lightsy and the collegiate debuts of Tre Green and Jack Jubenville.
- Playing in the first game of his second season, Teafale Lenard, Jr. tied Kyle Young for ninth on the Blue Raiders’ career list with the 59th block of his career.
- Jared Coleman-Jones saw his first game action in 612 days and played in front of Murphy Center fans for the first time since coming to Murfreesboro in 2020.
- MTSU holds the best record in college basketball.
Thoughts from Head Coach Nick McDevitt
“Real happy with the team win. A great environment to start out the year and the season. The 50-year anniversary of the building, the 100-year anniversary of our program, to have that many elementary-aged students from Rutherford County in here, I don’t have to tell you guys anything, it was loud in there and the decibel level was really high. Really proud of our team to stay locked in in an environment like that.”
Player’s Perspective: Elias King
“I gained 20 pounds over the summer. Brescia, they were physical, they played hard. But as we know, Conference USA is very physical. So you’ve got to add weight, or you will not survive.”
Middle Tennessee will hit the road to the Palmetto State, traveling to Winthrop on Saturday. The game in Rock Hill, S.C. will tipoff at 3 p.m. with broadcast coverage on ESPN+
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