MT Men Back In The W Column


A strong defensive effort guided Middle Tennessee to an 80-70 victory Tuesday night over Toledo at the Murphy Center.

“We beat a really good Toledo team,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “They’re good shooters and a really good offensive team, and for a while that was the best we’ve guarded all year.”

After allowing Tennessee State to shoot 51.1 percent in a 74-63 loss on Saturday, the Blue Raiders limited the Rockets to a 43.1 shooting percentage Tuesday. That included just a 9-of-27 performance from 3-point range for Toledo.

Not only did Middle Tennessee close out on shooters well, but they were also very active in passing lanes and against dribble penetration. The Raiders came up with 11 steals and forced the Rockets to commit 14 turnovers compared to just eight for MT.

“I thought the assist-to-turnover was really good,” Davis said. “I thought we shared the ball and took care of the ball really well tonight.”

Toledo’s cough ups led to 22 points off turnovers for the Blue Raiders. They also had 14 fast break points, compared to zero for the Rockets.

“We definitely depend on our zone to create steals and get us going in transition,” senior Reggie Upshaw said. “Whenever you can get out on the break and create those fast break opportunities and create dunks for yourself and your teammates, it gives our team a lot of momentum and it gets our crowd going.”

The strong defensive effort started right away for the Blue Raiders. In the first half, Toledo scored just 26 points on 10-of-31 shooting.

The quick start was led by Middle Tennessee’s toughness in the lane. The Raiders won the points in the paint battle 44 to 28 and came up with six blocks as a team, led by Upshaw with three.

“We started that off in practice, really,” redshirt senior JaCorey Williams said. “The last couple of days we had two good practices, really physical practices, as well. It was just a carryover – as long as we keep the same type of focus and stay physical, it’s going to carry over to each game.”

Williams continued his strong start to the season offensively. He scored the first six points for the Blue Raiders and finished with 18 on 9-of-13 shooting. He also had six rebounds and added three assists.

Upshaw accounted for 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the floor and freshman Tyrik Dixon scored his first points of his Middle Tennessee career, ending with 11 and four assists.

Middle Tennessee is off for the Thanksgiving holiday before returning to action Friday in the Challenge in Music City at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium. There they will see Toledo on Saturday for the second time in five days while also facing UNC Wilmington on Friday and Evansville on Sunday.
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