MTSU Stay Hot in C-USA Play on Road


Middle Tennessee moved to 3-0 in league play for the first time since 2011-12 Saturday with a 79-68 win at North Texas.

The Blue Raiders (13-3, 3-0) shot 42.2 percent from the floor and dished out 17 assists to just five turnovers.

The Mean Green (6-10, 0-4) shot 46.8 percent in the contest but couldn’t slow the Raiders on the glass as MT won the battle on the boards, 40-30.

Middle Tennessee also went 18-of-20 on free throw attempts – its best outing of the season from the line – and got a combined six 3-pointers from juniors Giddy Potts and Ed Simpson plus another from Reggie Upshaw.

Potts finished with a team-high 18 points to go along with six boards. JaCorey Williams logged his fifth double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds while Upshaw totaled 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

“Any time you go on the road and get plus-two is good,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “We had great preparation and were ready to play, but I don’t think we guarded early. We went to our bench, got some better energy and really settled into the game.”

North Texas got on the board first in Denton before MT took a 4-2 lead with baskets by Tyrik Dixon and Williams.

The Mean Green took the lead back on their next possession and wouldn’t allow the Blue Raiders to regain control until a Potts lay-in at the 7:15 mark made the score 22-20 in favor of MT.

“I thought we came out with the perfect game plan,” Williams said. “We started a little slow but we got into a rhythm after a little bit and were able to get the scout into the game.”

“North Texas came out and had a lot of pop and a lot of energy, but I think in time our depth won out,” Davis added.

Brandon Walters gave the Raiders a much-needed lift off the bench in the early going, giving MT its first three-point lead of the game with a jumper coming out of the final media timeout of the first half, running his point total to eight in just six minutes of action.

Walters and Simpson led a strong effort off the bench, combining for 17 of MT’s 20 bench points on the evening.

The Blue Raiders closed the opening half on a 7-0 run and went 6-of-6 from the charity stripe in the final 2:38 to go up 37-27 entering the locker room.

Potts scored five of the last seven Blue Raider points before the break to give him 10 and led all scorers at the half.

A flurry of 3-pointers got Middle Tennessee going in the second half as Simpson, Upshaw and Potts each drained trifectas to run the lead to 15 at 46-31.

The Blue Raiders opened up their first 20-point lead of the night at the 11:29 mark when Williams hit a jumper from the free throw line to give him his 15th double-digit outing of the season.

Antwain Johnson put the Raiders up by 21 with a pair of free throws less than a minute later and soon after Simpson nailed his third triple of the half to make the lead 22 at 62-40.

North Texas was able to climb within 11 with a dunk inside the final second, but it was too little too late as MT would leave the Super Pit with the win.

The Blue Raiders return home following the Texas road swing to face Marshall on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.

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