USA Defeats MT 64-53

January 16, 2003 · MT Media Relations

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Middle Tennessee jumped out to a 10-2 lead against South Alabama, but the Jaguars quickly took control of the game and rode a big second half lead to a 64-53 win in front of 1,572 fans.

The Jaguars (8-7, 2-2) went on an 11-0 run after falling behind by eight points in the first half to take a 15-12 lead with 7:46 to go in the first half. The Jags would never trail again.

The Blue Raiders (6-10, 2-2) would rally in the second half and cut the lead to seven points on two occasions, but couldn't draw any closer.

William Pippen led the Blue Raider offensive effort with 16 points and Tommy Gunn added 13. Chris Young paced South Alabama with 22 points, while Demetrice Williams chipped in with 12 points.

Middle Tennessee will attempt to get back above .500 in the league with a game against New Orleans on Saturday evening while USA travels to Western Kentucky.

DEFENDING THE GOAL: Over the past four games, the Blue Raiders have not allowed an opponent to shoot over 44 percent from the field. That trend continued against USA as MT held the Jaguars to 41.3 percent shooting, including 31.8 percent in the second half. During the last four games, Middle Tennessee has held the opposition to a combined 39.8 percent shooting from the field (84-211).

USA TAKES ADVANTAGE: The key to South Alabama's victory over Middle Tennessee on Thursday came in the turnover department. The Jaguars forced 15 Blue Raider miscues, but the biggest stat was the fact they scored 17 points off of those turnovers compared to just six points by MT off 11 USA giveaways.

THIS 'N' THAT: Forward Steven Jackson made his second start of the season tonight ... The Blue Raiders saw their modest three-game home winning streak come to an end with the loss to South Alabama on Thursday ... After falling behind by 13 points at intermission, the Blue Raiders outscored USA 30-28 in the second half ... The Blue Raiders have now hit at least one three-pointer in 202 consecutive games ... MT fell behind by 16 points in the second half, which was its largest deficit since losing at Purdue by 33 points earlier this season ... William Pippen led the Blue Raiders in scoring for the seventh time this year ... Tommy Gunn, the team's leading scorer, hit in double figures for the 45th time in his career.

NEXT UP: The Blue Raiders will remain at home as they host New Orleans on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 PM against the Privateers as they make their first visit to Murfreesboro.

MT Head Coach Kermit Davis: "You have to give credit to South Alabama. They played with a lot more energy than we did. They were a lot more physical and tougher. The pressing was no factor in the game. They just beat us in the half court game. They guarded us better than we guarded them. They ran better offense and their guys played a lot harder. I am responsible to get our guys to play and that was embarrassing. I thought our energy level was real low tonight, the worst it has been all year. We don't have to margin of error to be able to do that."

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