Middle Tennessee controlled the second leg of its Florida swing from the opening tip Saturday night, cruising to an 86-57 win at Florida Atlantic.
Junior guard Giddy Potts totaled a team-high 17 points on the night. JaCorey Williams and Reggie Upshaw each pitched in 14 points while Aldonis Foote joined them in double figures with 10 points off the bench.
The Blue Raiders (17-3, 7-0) shot 56.3 percent in the contest and managed 12 assists to eight turnovers while collecting 13 steals and scoring 26 points off 16 FAU turnovers.
The Owls (5-13, 1-6) shot just 35.5 percent from the field and 25 percent from three. MT logged 48 points in the paint to FAU’s 32 and tallied a season-high 28 bench points.
“Our team was right today,” Head Coach Kermit Davis said. “I could tell in gameday practice today. We had more guys in tune and I have been harping on bench production and we got it today.”
After a power outage delayed the start time Saturday evening, the Blue Raiders came out firing on all cylinders. After a 2-2 start, MT opened up a 15-0 run fueled by eight points from Potts to go up 17-2 just five minutes into the game.
“I think this team is more mature than last year’s team,” Giddy Potts said. “We went to the mall yesterday and had some fun but we don’t let anything distract us.
“When the lights went out before the game we just stayed out there and stayed focused. We still had work to get in.”
Karl Gamble provided an early boost off the bench for MT with a pair of blocks in his first few possessions on the court and a jumper at the 12:37 mark to make the score 19-4.
Gamble finished with one of his better performances of the season, tallying nine points and his first career 3-pointer to go along with a team-high six rebounds and a pair of blocks.
The Owls were able to close the gap to 10 with a quick 7-2 run, but the Blue Raider defense clamped down, only allowing 12 FAU points in the final 10:28 of the first half.
A third triple from Giddy Potts opened the Blue Raider lead up to 17 points at the 6:56 mark and just a couple of minutes later Xavier Habersham drained a three of his own to make the score 35-15.
Junior guard Qua Copeland closed out the half with a left-handed lay-in just before the buzzer while drawing contact to earn a trip to the free throw line and give the Raiders a 45-21 lead on the old-fashioned 3-point play.
MT shot 51.4 percent in the first half while holding Florida Atlantic to 23.3 percent from the field and hit five triples to the Owls’ one.
Upshaw opened the second half with another 3-point play to get the offense going yet again. By the 15:58 mark, the Blue Raiders earned a 31-point advantage at 56-25.
The Owls slowly began to chip away behind the hot shooting of Frank Booker who finished with 22 points, 14 of which were in the second half. FAU would get as close as 18 with 2:30 remaining but could not overcome the Blue Raiders’ hot offensive performance.
The Blue Raiders return home Thursday to face Southern Miss at 6:30 p.m. inside the Murphy Center.