Men's basketball welcomes Cumberland Tuesday

Tipoff slated for 7 p.m. CT in Murphy Center

November 21, 2011 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee men's basketball returns to the hardwood Tuesday, hosting Cumberland for a 7 p.m. CT contest at Murphy Center.

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

Radio: WGNS (1450 AM, 101.9 FM, 100.5 FM)/WNSR (560 AM)/WMOT (89.5 FM)
Play-by-Play: Chip Walters
Analysis: Kyle Turnham
Live Video/Audio/Stats: Available here

Overall: Middle Tennessee leads, 23-1
Current Streak: MT, 17 games
Last meeting: MT 87, Cumberland 54 (Murfreesboro, Tenn. - 11/27/09)
Noteworthy: Cumberland head coach Lonnie Thompson played for the Blue Raiders during the 1984-85 season. That year, MT won the OVC tournament and played eventual Elite Eight contender North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Thompson started and led the Blue Raiders with 20 points in the contest. Also of note, Thompson played that season alongside the elder Kerry Hammonds and will coach against his son on Tuesday.

Men's Basketball vs. Cumberland
Cumberland (5-1) is coming off its first loss of the season after falling to #17 St. Catharine College. 87-74, on Nov. 13. The Bulldogs had won five in a row to start the season, including a win against St. Catharine College on Nov. 4.

A member of the NAIA, Cumberland returned two starters from a team that finished 18-12 last season. This year, the Bulldogs are led by Michael Sweat, averaging 18.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Jerret Towns (12.5 ppg), Josh Upton (12.5 ppg) and Andrew Ayodeji (10.5 ppg) are also averaging double figures.

Starting It Off Right
The Blue Raiders got off to a 4-0 start this season, marking the best start since the 1994-95 season. It also marked the first time in program history MT defeated three Division I opponents to open the season.

Playing Extra
MT and Belmont played into double overtime on Nov. 20, marking the first overtime game of the season for the Blue Raiders. Last season, MT played four overtime games, including one double-overtime contest, ironically, a loss to Belmont on Dec. 7, 2010. The two contests against Belmont are the only double-overtime games for the Blue Raiders since a triple overtime loss to New Mexico State in 2002.

Shooting the Lights Out
MT’s shooting performance against UCLA on Nov. 15 was one for the ages. The Blue Raiders smashed the school record, shooting a 71.4 percent clip from the field and surpassing the previous mark of 68.9 percent set in 1981. MT has now had three halves of basketball this season shooting 70 percent or better:
11/15 vs. UCLA 2nd half: 72.0%
11/15 vs. UCLA 1st half: 70.8%
11/11 vs. Austin Peay: 70.0%

On record, the Blue Raiders had only bettered the 70-percent mark in one half three times in program history prior to this year:
.833 vs. Akron (2/4/82)
.800 vs. Tennessee Tech (1/8/81)
.724 vs. Austin Peay (1/12/87)

Raining Three’s
Not only did MT set a record from the field, but the Blue Raiders also hit a Sun Belt record 90.9 percent of their 3-pointers against UCLA. The mark, also a school record, surpassed the previous league record of 90.0 percent set by UAB in 1986 and is tied for fourth in NCAA history.
(Min. 10 made)
03/06/11 - 93.3%, Ohio State (14-15) vs. Wisconsin
12/03/00 - 91.7%, Drexel (11-12) vs. Delaware
12/11/04 - 91.7%, Northern Arizona (11-12) vs. Willamette
11/15/11 - 90.9%, Middle Tennessee (10-11) at UCLA
02/01/88 - 90.9%, Duke (10-11) vs. Clemson
01/16/93 - 90.9%, Hofstra (10-11) vs. Rhode Island

And One More Thing
MT hit its first nine treys and finished 10-of-11 from beyond the arc against UCLA. The Blue Raiders didn’t miss a trey until 1:39 to go in the game. Before the streak ended, MT’s 9-for-9 performance matched an NCAA record for highest perfect 3-point field goal percentage in a game, set by Minnesota against Penn State on Jan. 11, 2009.

Davis nearing record
Head coach Kermit Davis is on track to become the winningest coach in MT history. Davis is just seven wins shy of matching former coach Jimmy Earle’s 164 all-time coaching victories. This season, Davis joins Earle, who spent a decade guiding the Blue Raiders, as the longest tenured coaches in program history.

Spreading the Wealth
MT’s 10-of-11 3-point performance against UCLA was far from a one-man show. In fact, it was a six-man show. Six different Blue Raiders hit a triple, led by Raymond Cintron and Bruce Massey, who each went 3-for-3. In addition, five Blue Raiders scored double-figures. Altogether, six Blue Raiders have had at least one double-digit performance this year.

Closing It Out
MT consistently closed out its opponents early in the first four contests. The Blue Raiders never trailed in the final 29:30 against Austin Peay, 16:24 against Loyola Marymount, 27:31 against UCLA and 22:15 against UNCG. This means out of the total 160 minutes, the Blue Raiders went 95:40 without falling behind, which is nearly 60 percent of the time.

Sulton Reigns
Junior forward JT Sulton became the first Blue Raider to record a double-double this season, collecting 12 points and 11 rebound at Loyola Marymount. It marked the third double-double of his career, with his last coming against UALR (21 pts, 11 reb) in the 2011 Sun Belt tournament. Sulton has reached double figures in four out of five contests this season.

Dendy is Dandy
After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, LaRon Dendy has made an immediate impact for the Blue Raiders. He netted 21 points in the season-opener against Austin Peay and was one rebound shy of a double-double, collecting nine boards. He notched his first double-double of the season at UCLA, collecting 16 points and 13 rebounds. He has also shown versatility on the court, ranking second on the team with 14 assists and having hit a 3-pointer in four out of five contests.

Tremendous Transfers
In addition to Dendy, three other transfers have seen considerable time for the Blue Raiders through five games:

Chipola Junior College transfer Marcos Knight has started the first five games. Knight is the team’s leading scorer with 15.8 points per game points and ranks second on the team with 7.2 rebounds per game. He posted his first career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds against Belmont. Knight became the third Blue Raider to post a double-double this season.

Bruce Massey dished out a game-high six assists against Austin Peay, collected three steals and four rebounds to go along with two points. Massey leads the team with22 assists and 10 steals. In addition, the Dodge City Community College transfer went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc against UCLA, marking his first 3-point attempts of the season, and has now hit five treys in a row.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College transfer Raymond Cintron came off the bench and sank a pair of free throws in his first D-I contest against Austin Peay, then added his first D-I triple against Loyola Marymount. He heated up against UCLA, draining 3-of-3 treys to finish 4-for-4 from the field with 11 points. He followed that performance with a career day against Belmont, going 5-for-9 from 3-point land en route to a career-high 18 points.

Painting the Town Blue
In four out of the first five games, the Blue Raiders have dominated their opponent in the paint. Altogether the Blue Raiders own a 164-122 advantage in the paint.
vs. Austin Peay: 38-16 (+22)
at LMU: 24-18 (+6)
at UCLA: 40-28 (+12)
vs. UNCG: 28-18 (+10)
vs. Belmont: 34-42 (-8)

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