Hot-shooting Blue Raiders explode for 86-65 triumph against New Orleans

January 26, 2006 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - One of the best shooting nights not only in recent weeks, but also in school history, helped lead Middle Tennessee to an 86-65 win against New Orleans in front of a season-high 4,987 at Murphy Center Thursday night.

  • Photos: MT vs. New Orleans
  • Photos: Mardi Gras Celebration

    The Blue Raiders (9-9, 2-4) snapped a three-game losing streak on the strength of 58 percent shooting from the field (29-of-50), including a sizzling 62 percent from 3-point range. The 3-point percentage goes down as the fourth-highest in school history for a single game.

    The hot-scoring assault was led by the sharpshooting of Tim Blue, who recorded a career-high 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting, and Adam Vogelsberg , who equaled his career high for points (19) and 3-point field goals made (5). Marcus Morrison tallied double figures for the seventh consecutive game with 12 points and Fats Cuyler finished with 11 points, five assists and no turnovers.

    "I was very pleased with the way our team played tonight," said Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis, who moved into a tie with David Farrar for sixth on the all-time wins list at Middle Tennessee with 61. "We had some players step up in what was a very big game for us. We needed this win and our players responded."

    Davis tinkered with the starting lineup, giving freshmen Kevin Kanaskie and Theryn Hudson their first career starts, and the rookies responded favorably. Kanaskie was sharp from start to finish, running the team exceptionally well and finishing with six points, a career-high six rebounds, five assists and only one turnover in a career-high 31 minutes of playing time.

    The new-look starting lineup also bolstered the Blue Raider bench with Blue, Cuyler and Morrison coming off what suddenly was a deep and productive bench. The Blue Raider reserves were key as they outscored the Privateers by a whopping 48-9 margin. It is the most production Middle Tennessee has received from its reserves in the Davis era and the highest point production from the bench since the reserves tallied 48 against Bryan College in 2001-02 - a span of 136 games.

    Middle Tennessee trailed 44-43 at the half as the Privateers (5-13, 2-5) shot 67 percent from the field, but the Blue Raiders held the visitors to 33 percent and only nine field goals in the second half as they broke the open.

    Trailing 52-51 with 14:13 remaining, the Blue Raiders went on a 13-2 run during a two-minute span to take a 62-52 lead and never looked back.

    Middle Tennessee will return to action when it plays host to two-time defending Sun Belt champion Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday at 7 p.m.

    FINDING THEIR TOUCH: The key to Middle Tennessee's victory over New Orleans Thursday night was breaking out of an eight-game shooting slump. The Blue Raiders shot 58.0 percent (29-50) from the field, including a scorching 62.5 percent in the second half, to record their best shooting effort since the Florida Atlantic victory back on Dec. 21 (65.3 percent). The 58.0 percent shooting at home goes down as the best mark since hitting on 58.7 percent in a win over Western Kentucky on Jan. 4, 2003 - a span of 41 home games.

    HOT FROM DOWNTOWN: Behind the accurate shooting of Adam Vogelsberg, Middle Tennessee shot a sizzling 61.9 percent (13-for-21) from three-point range in the win over New Orleans. That mark goes down as the fourth best percentage in a single-game in Blue Raider history, but the second-best mark of the season. Middle Tennessee connected on 65.0 percent of its treys in an earlier win over Florida Atlantic. Starting guards Vogelsberg and Kevin Kanaskie combined for 7 of 10 shooting from the arc for 70 percent.

    BLUE SHINES IN VICTORY: Junior Tim Blue enjoyed coming back home to the Murphy Center. The forward turned in a career-high 19 points off the bench on 6-for-8 shooting to go along with five rebounds in 24 minutes. In his last two home games, Blue is averaging 17.5 points and has connected on 13 of 18 shots from the field.

    BENCH COMES UP BIG: The Middle Tennessee bench came up big in the win over the Privateers on Thursday by outscoring the UNO bench, 48-9. The 48 points are the most by Blue Raider reserves in the Kermit Davis era and the most overall since they had 48 in the 2001-02 season opener against Bryan College - a span of 136 games.

    SOLID IN FIRST START: True freshman Kevin Kanaskie made the most of his first collegiate start. The State College, Pa., native pulled down a personal-best six rebounds, equaled his career-high with five assists, and added six points. Kanaskie also played a career-best 31 minutes.

    PLAYER OF THE GAME: Tim Blue was voted the Alexander Automotive Family Player of the Game against New Orleans by members of the working media.

    TIDBITS: The 13 made three-pointers tonight by Middle Tennessee equaled the fifth most in school history ... Kevin Kanaskie and Theryn Hudson made their first collegiate starts tonight against New Orleans ... With six rebounds tonight, Kyle Young became the first player since Tommy Gunn (2001-04) to record at least 100 caroms in three straight seasons ... Calvin O'Neil came away with a career-best three steals ... Following a one-game suspension, Marcus Morrison came off the bench to score 12 points and grab five rebounds in just 17 minutes of action. Morrison has now scored in double figures seven straight games ... Reserve Wes Durrant saw action for the first time since Jan. 7 at WKU ... The 86 points tonight went down as the Blue Raiders' most since putting up 90 in a win over FAU back on Dec. 21.

    Middle Tennessee Head Coach Kermit Davis
    On Kevin Kanaskie
    "I think Kevin Kanaskie was the MVP of the game from the standpoint of how he ran the team. The biggest reason is he had a great floor game but he showed charisma out there, he was encouraging guys and pumping his fists in a good way. That was something we needed.

    "I thought Marcus Morrison was solid and I'll tell you someone who really lifted us up in the first half was Calvin O'Neil - three steals and really brought an energy level to us. His conditioning is getting better. We had three freshmen out there at times and that's good to build on. It's just a start but something positive to take to Saturday night's game."

    Middle Tennessee forward Tim Blue
    "I just wanted to be aggressive and Coach Davis said to approach the game as if it was an open gym game. I feel comfortable being free and being aggressive. My confidence was definitely higher and I just wanted to be aggressive so we could get the victory. It also makes it very easy when our guards are making shots."

    Middle Tennessee point guard Kevin Kanaskie
    "The guys did a great job of running the floor. My job was easy. I was excited to start, it being my first start, but I didn't feel any different out there."

    On Coach Davis
    "He was a little more laid back but he emphasized we needed to win."

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