Blue Raiders suffer 66-53 setback at North Texas
School record league road win streak ends at sixJanuary 26, 2007 · MT Media Relations
The Blue Raiders saw their school-record six-game road win streak against conference opponents come to an end in the setback. The Blue Raiders (9-11, 5-5) had won all five SBC road games this season and they won their final road contest of the 2006 campaign before suffering Thursday's setback.
Middle Tennessee senior forward Tim Blue led the team with 16 points off the bench, while Kevin Kanaskie added 14, and Nigel Johnson finished with 10. North Texas was led by Calvin Watson's 21 points.
"We knew it was going to end at some point," Middle Tennessee head coach Kermit Davis said of the road streak, adding, "but you would like for it to end when you have played well and the other team just beat you. This was not one of our better games. We just didn't seem to come out with the energy we have in previous games on the road and North Texas has a talented team so they took advantage of that early."
The Blue Raiders, who still have won three of five, shot just 37 percent (19-of-51) for the game and never could get untracked offensively. Middle Tennessee limited the Sun Belt's top scoring offense at 81 point per game to 15 points below its average; however, the Blue Raiders' offensive struggles and inability to protect the basketball proved costly.
Middle Tennessee committed 11 of its 15 turnovers in the first half and the Mean Green (14-6, 5-4) scored a total of 18 points off turnovers, while the Blue Raiders managed four points off 10 North Texas miscues. In a 13-point setback the 14-point differential in the points off turnovers category proved monumental.
Blue was a bright spot as he turned in his second-highest scoring game of the season on 7-of-12 shooting and pulled five rebounds to tie Kyle Young for the team lead in that category. Johnson's play also was strong as he tied his career high for field goals made (4) and 3-point field goals made (2).
Middle Tennessee's starting frontcourt of Desmond Yates, Kyle Young, and Theryn Hudson could never get going as they combined to go 2-of-11 from the field with eight points. Hudson and Yates fouled out.
"We just didn't get a lot of production inside and we couldn't do much offensively," Davis said. "North Texas has several talented offensive players and tonight they were hitting shots and were able to make things happen on the offensive end. That, combined with the easy points we gave up off turnovers, hurt us in this game."
Despite its ineffectiveness on the offensive end, Middle Tennessee was still in the game at intermission, trailing 27-22, after Kanaskie hit a long 3-pointer with eight seconds remaining to end the first half. The Blue Raiders appeared to be on the verge of making another run at a tough road win when Blue's two free throws cut the North Texas lead to 42-40 with 13:10 remaining but the Mean Green used a 9-2 run over the next three minutes to stretch the lead back to nine, 51-42, and Middle Tennessee would not get closer than seven the remainder of the way.
NOTES: Middle Tennessee will celebrate the 25-year anniversary of the 1982 Ohio Valley Conference championship team and its stunning upset of Kentucky in the NCAA Regional during its annual Legends Weekend when the Blue Raiders play Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday at 7 p.m. Four starters and at least seven total members of that squad are expected to be in attendance, as well as approximately 50 former standouts from different eras. A postgame autograph session with the 1982 team and the 2006-07 Blue Raiders will take place. Fans are encouraged to turn back the clock as well and celebrate 80s night by wearing their favorite 1980s attire. The Blue Raiders will be wearing 1982 retro jerseys for this game ... Dino Hair established career highs for points (5), rebounds (3), minutes (9), and field goals made (2) against North Texas ... Nigel Johnson tied his career high for field goals made (4) and 3-point field goals made (2) against North Texas ... The Blue Raiders lost on the road in the SBC for the first time this season and are now 5-1 away from home in league play.
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