Blue Raiders face tough test on the road at Loyola Marymount

Tipoff slated for 5 p.m. CT from Los Angeles

November 12, 2011 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Blue Raider men's basketball team heads west for a pair of games, beginning with Loyola Marymount on Sunday. The game is set for 5 p.m. CT from Los Angeles.

Fans can follow the Blue Raiders throughout their stay in California via GoBlueRaiders.tv. Click here for interviews, highlights and a behind the scenes look on the road with the team.

Time: 5:00 p.m. CT
Location: Los Angeles
Facility: Gersten Pavilion

Radio: WGNS 1450/560 AM/WMOT FM 89.5
Play-by-Play: Chip Walters
Live Audio: Available here
Live Stats/Video: Available here

Men's Basketball vs. Loyola Marymount
Overall: First Meeting
Noteworthy: Although the two schools have never met, LMU head coach Max Good is quite familiar with MT from his head coaching days at Eastern Kentucky from 1981-89 when both schools were a member of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Blue Raiders were 14-6 against Good during his EKU tenure.

Scouting the Blue Raiders
The Blue Raiders opened the season with an 80-71 victory over Austin Peay on Friday. Senior forward LaRon Dendy led the way with 21 points and nearly had a double-double with nine boards. Marcos Knight (15), James Gallman (14) and JT Sulton (13) also scored double figures.

The Blue Raiders held Austin Peay to 39 percent shooting while hitting 55.1 percent of their shots from the field. They also produced 17 assists on 27 shots and registered 38.5 percent shooting from 3-point land.

Three of the Blue Raiders’ starting five in the season-opener transferred to MT and made their debut on Friday. Dendy (Iowa State) and junior guards Bruce Massey (Dodge City CC) and Knight (Chipola JC) each earned the starting nod, while two additional newcomers came off the bench. Junior forward Raymond Cintron (Mississippi Gulf Coast JC) and freshman forward Jacquez Rozier each saw time in the opener.

Scouting the Lions
Loyola Marymount opened the 2011-12 season on Friday as well, knocking off No. 17 UCLA, 69-58, at LA Sports Arena. The Lions were led by Ashley Hamilton and Quincy Lawson, with 23 and 21 points, respectively.

Although the Lions finished the 2010-11 season 11-21 and 2-12 in the WCC, going 5-13 in games decided by less than 10 points, they return 73 percent of their offense and 70 percent of the rebounding this year. The Lions returning starters include preseason All-WCC selection Drew Viney, redshirt junior Ashley Hamilton, sophomore Anthony Ireland and sophomore Godwin Okonji. They also have five others who have started in their careers back this season, including Jarred DuBois who is back after a medical redshirt.

Half is Twice as Nice
MT’s second-half performance against Austin Peay will go down as one of the best in program history. The Blue Raiders shot 70 percent from the field, and have, on record, only bettered that mark three times in program history. Ironically, the most recent occurrence was also against the Governors.
.833 vs. Akron (2/4/82)
.800 vs. Tennessee Tech (1/8/81)
.724 vs. Austin Peay (1/12/87)

Dendy is Dandy
After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, LaRon Dendy made an immediate impact for the Blue Raiders in his first collegiate game since leaving Iowa State. He netted 21 points in the season-opener against Austin Peay and was one rebound shy of a double-double, collecting nine boards.

Exhibition Tidbits
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 10 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.

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