A high-scoring trio lifted Middle Tennessee to a 79-61 win in Birmingham on Thursday, advancing the Blue Raiders on to the Conference USA Tournament semifinals.
Reggie Upshaw led the way with an astounding 27-point, nine-rebound performance against Charlotte which also included three assists, three blocks and three steals.
Perrin Buford added 22 points, going 10-of-12 from the field and blocking two shots of his own. Giddy Potts returned from concussion with an 18-point outing while going 3-of-4 from three and crashing the glass to the tune of nine boards.
Middle Tennessee (22-9, 13-5 C-USA) shot 54.7 percent on the night and a spectacular 68.2 percent in the second half to pull away from the 49ers. The Raiders also collected 40 rebounds and outscored Charlotte in the paint 46-22.
Charlotte (14-19, 9-9 C-USA) got off to a good start against the Raiders, but were suffocated early in the second half allowing Middle to open up a large lead.
Middle Tennessee got on the scoreboard first with a jumper by Buford. The senior added a three-pointer just a few possessions later to give the Raiders a 5-4 advantage early on.
Darnell Harris got into the scoring act next before Upshaw began to assert himself in the post with his first basket of the game at the 14:35 mark.
Charlotte clung to a small lead until Upshaw drove through the lane for a monster slam to tie the game at 18.
The 49ers took the lead back briefly before Buford flew over the Charlotte defense for an authoritative follow slam.
Quavius Copeland then got a quick steal and a layup to put Middle on top 24-23, but the Raiders went cold after that.
Charlotte reeled off a 9-0 run across three and a half minutes to go on top by eight when Giddy Potts finally ended the run with his first three of the game.
Potts kept the Raiders close when he drew a foul in the corner and sank his triple and a free throw for a four-point play.
Upshaw then finished the half off with a layup to draw MT within three at 36-33. The versatile forward led all scorers at half with 10 points to go along with six rebounds.
Middle Tennessee came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, using a 21-2 run to take a 54-38 lead on the 49ers.
The Raiders held Charlotte to just 1-of-13 from the field in the first nine minutes after the break, forcing five turnovers and blocking four shots during the run.
Buford caught fire during the stretch, reaching the 20-point mark for the fourth time this season with just under seven minutes remaining.
Middle Tennessee put on the cruise control for several minutes until Charlotte began to get some shots of their own to fall and close the gap to 10, but then Upshaw took over the game once again.
Upshaw scored nine points in the final four minutes to end the threat by Charlotte and seal the win down the stretch.
MARSHALL 87, UTEP 85
Ryan Taylor had 21 points and 14 rebounds, and made a layup with three seconds left to give Marshall an 87-85 victory over UTEP. Austin Loop made six 3-pointers and finished with 18 points for Marshall. James Kelly added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
#2 Middle Tennessee is back in action at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and will take on No. 3 seed Marshall . The semifinal game will be played on CBSSports TV . In other action #8 WKU will take on #5 ODU at 3:00. WKU upset #1 UAB in quarterfinal action.