Blue Raiders welcome Austin Peay in season-opener Friday

Tipoff slated for 7 p.m. at Murphy Center

November 10, 2011 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee men's basketball team opens the 2011-12 season against Austin Peay on Friday. The Blue Raiders and Governors square off at 7 p.m. inside Murphy Center.

Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Facility: Murphy Center

Radio: WMTS (88.3)
Play-by-Play: Chip Walters
Analysis: Kyle Turnham
Live Video/Audio/Stats: Available here

Overall: Middle Tennessee leads, 73-63
Current Streak: Austin Peay, 3 games
Last meeting: AP 78, MT 75 (Murfreesboro, Tenn. - 12/29/07)
Last MT win: 74-70 in Clarksville, Tenn. (12/30/04) // Last MT win in Murfreesboro: 70-56 (12/23/03)
Longest MT streak: 9 games (1951-56) // Longest AP streak: 4 games (4x, last 1976-77)

Men's Basketball vs. Austin Peay
Scouting the Blue Raiders
MT is coming off a 16-16 campaign, including a 10-6 record in the Sun Belt and a second-place finish in the East Division. The bulk of the squad, including three starters and 57.4 percent of the offense, led by the team's second-leading scorer from last season, Jason Jones (13.1 ppg).

In the team’s only exhibition game this year, the Blue Raiders upended North Alabama, 108-58. Iowa State transfer LaRon Dendy led the team with 21 points, while junior forward JT Sulton netted 18. True freshman Jacquez Rozier and Jones also reached double-figures, with 17 and 16 points, respectively. Sophomore guard Kerry Hammonds grabbed a team-best 10 rebounds.

Scouting the Governors
Austin Peay returns four starters from a team that finished 20-14 last season. The Governors are this year’s favorite to win the Ohio Valley Conference, according to a vote of the league’s coaches and sports information directors. Among those returning are a pair of All-OVC selections. TyShwan Edmondson earned first-team honors last season, while Anthony Campbell was a second-team selection in 2009-10 before missing the majority of last season with a knee injury. Both were selected to the preseason All-OVC team.

The Governors played two exhibitions leading up to Friday’s season-opener. On Nov. 3, they picked up a 107-96 win against Central Missouri, then defeated Manchester, 98-55, on Monday. Josh Terry poured in 20 to lead the Governors against Central Missouri, while Edmondson scored a team-leading 18 points against Manchester.

Familiar Faces
Austin Peay is far from being an unfamiliar face to Middle Tennessee. Prior to the Blue Raiders joining the Sun Belt for the 2000-01 season, the two teams were OVC foes. Since MT’s departure from the OVC, the two teams have met six times, with the Governors owning a 4-2 record, including a 2-1 record in Murfreesboro.

Impressive Debuts
Six Blue Raiders made their debut on Monday against North Alabama, including three who started the contest. Junior transfers Marcos Knight and Bruce Massey each got the start, along with senior forward LaRon Dendy, who scored a game-high 21 points highlighted by an 11-for-13 performance from the stripe. Knight had contributions across the board, with four points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal, while Massey dished out four assists to go along with three points.

True freshman Jacquez Rozier put on a show as well, netting 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting and blocking two shots. Raymond Cintron, another juco transfer, demonstrated his long-range skills with a trio of 3-pointers and handed out a game-high five assists. True freshman Julian Edmonson rounded out the newcomers with a triple in the contest.

Blue Raiders Picked Second
MT was picked to finish second in the Sun Belt East Division by the league’s head coaches in the preseason poll. The Blue Raiders received the fourth-most points overall (59) and one first-place vote.

2011-12 Sun Belt Preseason Poll
1. Arkansas State (8) - 64 pts
2. Louisiana-Lafyaette (2) - 60 pts
3. North Texas (1) - 50 pts
4. Denver (1) - 40 pts
5. UALR - 26 pts
6. Louisiana-Monroe - 12 pts

1. Florida Atlantic (11) - 71 pts
2. Middle Tennessee (1) - 59 pts
3. WKU - 41 pts
4. South Alabama - 33 pts
5. FIU - 31 pts
6. Troy - 17 pts

Jason Jones Named to Preseason All-Sun Belt Team
Junior guard Jason Jones was named to the 2011-12 Preseason All-Sun Belt Team, as voted on by the league’s head coaches. Jones was the team’s second-leading scorer last year with 13.1 points per game, while his 14.6 points per game in Sun Belt contests ranked eighth in the league and third among the SBC’s returning players this season. In addition to registering 25 double-digit performances, the Memphis, Tenn., native was the team’s top scorer in 12 games last season and the top rebounder in 10 last year.

2011-12 SBC Men’s Basketball Preseason All-Conference
First Team
Martavius Adams, Arkansas State, Sr., F
Raymond Taylor, Florida Atlantic, Jr., G
Greg Gantt, Florida Atlantic, Jr., G
J.J. Thomas, Louisiana-Lafayette, So., F
*Augustine Rubit, South Alabama, So., F

Second Team
Chase Hallam, Denver, Jr., G
DeJuan Wright, FIU, Sr., G
Jason Jones, Middle Tennessee, Jr., F/G
Tony Mitchell, North Texas, Fr., F
Will Weathers, Troy, Jr., G

Third Team
Trey Finn, Arkansas State, Jr., G
Brian Stafford, Denver, Sr., G
Fred Brown, Louisiana-Monroe, Sr., G
Kedrick Hogans, North Texas, Sr., F
D’Andre Williams, UALR, Sr., G

* - Denotes Preseason Player of the Year

More Than Half of Offense Returns
The Blue Raiders return 57.4 percent of the offense this season. Junior guard Jason Jones was the team’s second-leading scorer last year with 13.1 ppg and accounted for nearly 20 percent of the scoring last season.

Best in the Belt
MT has been one of the most successful teams in the Sun Belt under Davis. The Blue Raiders lead the Sun Belt, along with Florida Atlantic, with 23 league wins over the past two seasons, finishing 10-6 last year and 13-5 in 2009-10. MT is the only team with double-digit conference victories in each of the past four years, earning 10 victories in 2008-09 and 11 in 2007-08. MT has been dominant on the road as well, collecting 40 conference road wins during Davis’ tenure, making the Blue Raiders the winningest Sun Belt road team over the past nine years.

Davis Nearing Record
Head coach Kermit Davis is on track to become the winningest coach in MT history. Davis is just 11 wins shy of matching former coach Jimmy Earle’s 164 all-time coaching victories. He is also one season away from matching Earle, who spent a decade guiding the Blue Raiders, as the longest tenured coaches in program history.

Atop the Toppers
Middle Tennessee has won four in a row against Western Kentucky dating back to the 2009-10 season. It marks the first such run against its rival in 81 years.

Oh Canada
The Blue Raiders spent a week in Canada in August to gear up for the 2011-12 campaign. MT won all four games in Calgary, Alberta. LaRon Dendy nearly averaged a double-double (14.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg) to lead the Blue Raiders. In the second contest against Alberta, Raymon Cintron knocked down seven 3-pointers, while Knight notched 22 points in the first game against Alberta.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.