Blue Raiders suffer 83-68 road loss at Houston

Yates leads way with 21

December 1, 2007 · MT Media Relations
HOUSTON - Seldom is a basketball game decided in a three-minute stretch of the first half but that was the case here Saturday night.

A three-minute shooting spree by Houston's Robert McKiver late in the first half proved to be the difference as the Cougars took an 83-68 win against Middle Tennessee in front of 3,214 at Hofheinz Pavilion Saturday night.

McKiver scored a game-high 32 points on the strength of nine 3-pointers to tie his school record but it was his shooting outbreak during a 3:45 stretch near the end of the first half that turned the game in his team's favor for good.

Leading by six, 21-15, McKiver connected on five straight 3-point field goals as the Cougars (7-1) stretched the lead to 38-17 with 3:32 remaining. The Blue Raiders (2-5) played the Conference USA team virtually even prior to and after McKiver's display but the damage had been done.

"We knew he was a talent coming in and he showed what he can do when he gets on a roll," Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis said. "He single-handedly turned the game in their favor with those five straight 3-pointers late in the first half and a lot of those shots were contested. He was the difference tonight."

Middle Tennessee showed progress in defeat with sophomore Desmond Yates scoring a season-high 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting and Demetrius Green has a strong all-around performance with 11 points, a career-high eight rebounds, four assists and no turnovers. Theryn Hudson and Kevin Kanaskie each scored eight for the Blue Raiders.

"I thought our team made some strides tonight and we just have to continue working and seeing progress and we will be OK," Davis said. "We were much better on the boards and there were signs of improvement so that's encouraging."

Houston's 7-1 start is its best since 1997-98 but had it not been for that brief stretch late in the first half Cougar coach Tom Penders said the outcome could have been different.

"I thought Middle Tennessee competed and battled and really played well," Penders said. "McKiver gave us a tremendous boost there in the first half and it made a big difference for us. That's a good basketball team we played tonight."

Middle Tennessee won the second half, 44-40, and was in the thick of battle for the brunt of the first half until the late shooting spree by McKiver. The Cougars shot 51 percent from the field and were a blistering 53 percent (16-of-30) from 3-point range, while Middle Tennessee shot 48 percent (24-of-50) and knocked down 7-of-19 3-pointers.

The Blue Raiders won the battle of the bards 31-28 with Green's game-high eight caroms leading the way.

Middle Tennessee returns to action when it faces Belmont on Dec. 12.

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