Blue Raiders resume rivalry with Hilltoppers

Longtime foes meet at Murphy Center Thursday

December 27, 2006 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - One of the most heated rivalries in the Sun Belt Conference resumes when Middle Tennessee plays host to Western Kentucky in a key early-season league battle Thursday at Murphy Center. Tipoff is 7 p.m.

The Blue Raiders (4-7, 0-1) will be looking to even their SBC slate before going on the road for two conference tilts but Middle Tennessee will have to find a way to slow the Hilltoppers (9-4, 1-1) and Preseason Player of the Year Courtney Lee in order to get back to even in the East Division.

The teams have met 114 times with Western Kentucky owning a 84-30 advantage; however, the series has become the rivalry it once was since the arrival of fifth-year Head Coach Kermit Davis. Prior to the 2002-03 season, Davis' first at Middle Tennessee, the Blue Raiders had not beat Western Kentucky in eight tries since December 8, 1982.

Davis led Middle Tennessee to a 69-65 win in his first meeting against Western Kentucky and has guided the Blue Raiders to four wins against the Hilltoppers in his first four seasons, including a 80-74 thriller in the last meeting between the teams. Fans attending the last four contests between the rivals at Murphy Center have been treated to hard-fought, competitive contests as three of the last four meetings in Murfreesboro have been decided by six points or less.

Middle Tennessee fans should also have a big question answered tonight regarding the return of senior guard Adam Vogelsberg, who suffered a broken bone in his right foot prior to the start of the season and has yet to play. The Western Kentucky game was the initial target date for Vogelsberg's return.

Sophomore point guard Kevin Kanaskie has been Middle Tennessee's top performer and most consistent player this season. He leads the team in scoring with 11.7 and his 5.7 assists per contest ranks second in the Sun Belt. Desmond Yates averages 10.0 points, Tim Blue adds 9.9, and Kyle Young contributes 8.5 per outing.

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