Blue Raiders picked to win Sun Belt East, four voted preseason all-conference
Knight, Sulton, Massey and Cintron earn preseason all-conference nodsOctober 24, 2012 · @MTAthletics
NEW ORLEANS - The Middle Tennessee men's basketball team has been picked unanimously to win the Sun Belt's East Division according to the preseason coaches' poll released by the league on Wednesday.
Four Blue Raiders were selected to the preseason all-conference teams, the most of any school. Senior guard Marcos Knight earned a first-team nod, senior forward JT Sulton and senior guard Bruce Massey were voted to the second team, and senior guard Raymond Cintron was named to the third team.
MT finished the 2011-12 campaign 27-7, knocking off UCLA, Ole Miss and Tennessee en route to setting the school record for wins. The Blue Raiders also set a program mark for conference victories, finishing last season with a 14-2 league record to take home the Sun Belt's regular season crown.
MT returns 10 of the top 12 scorers from a team that made a run to the NIT quarterfinals last year. Knight leads the way as the team's top returning scorer with 11.8 points per game last season. A second-team all-conference performer last year, Knight posted 24 double-digit games and was also named to the NABC All-District Second Team. The Rentz, Ga., native is the only returner that started every game last season.
Sulton, along with Knight, is the top returning rebounder at 5.2 boards per game in 2011-12. One of the league's most accurate shooters a year ago, Sulton's 53.3 percent field goal shooting was fifth in the Sun Belt, and he finished the season third on the team with 10.3 points per game. The Yazoo City, Miss., native earned third-team all-league honors, posted 20 double-figure games and started all but one contest as a junior.
Undoubtedly, Massey's most memorable performance came in the Blue Raiders' 71-64 NIT victory at Tennessee. The defensive specialist had a breakout game, posting his first double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, both career-highs. Massey ranked as the league's best in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1) throughout the season and finished fourth in assists (3.9) and steals (1.6).
Cintron finished the 2011-12 season as one of the league's best 3-point shooters. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Cintron ranked sixth in the Sun Belt in 3-point field goal percentage (.432) and ninth in 3-pointers per game (2.0). The team's fourth-leading scorer with 8.4 points per game, Cintron posted 15 double-digit performances and led the squad with a 90.7 free throw percentage.
With MT's success from last season and a squad full of experience and depth, the Blue Raiders are already slated to make eight television appearances during the upcoming season. In addition to ESPNU airing the Vanderbilt game on Dec. 21, the ESPN family of networks will air six other contests with the option to pick up a seventh. ESPNU will have the telecast of the MT-North Texas games on Dec. 31, while home games versus UAB (Dec. 5), Ole Miss (Dec. 8), UALR (Jan. 17), Arkansas State (Feb. 7) and South Alabama (Feb. 21) will all air on ESPN3. ESPN2 also has the option of picking up the Blue Raiders' home contest against WKU on Jan. 26 or UALR at North Texas. The decision will be made the week prior to the contest.
The Sun Belt Network will also air MT's game at WKU on Feb. 23.
Season tickets are also on sale now for $140, or purchase both men's and women's season tickets for $199. Price includes a ticket to the Blue Raiders' game against the Commodores at Bridgestone Arena. To purchase, call the Blue Raider Ticket Office at 1-888-YES-MTSU or to buy online, click here.
MT opens the 2012-13 campaign on Nov. 5 in an exhibition against Auburn-Montgomery at 7 p.m. in Murphy Center. The Blue Raiders' regular season begins Nov. 9 when MT hosts Alabama State at 7:45 p.m.
2012-13 Men's Basketball Preseason All-Conference First Team
Will Neighbour (UALR, Jr., Forward)
Trey Finn (Arkansas State, Sr., Guard)
Marcos Knight (Middle Tennessee, Sr., Guard)
Tony Mitchell (North Texas, So., Forward)
Augustine Rubit (South Alabama, Jr., Forward)
2012-13 Men's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Second Team
Brandon Peterson (Arkansas State, Sr., Forward)
Greg Gantt (Florida Atlantic, Sr., Guard)
JT Sulton (Middle Tennessee, Sr., Forward)
Bruce Massey (Middle Tennessee, Sr., Guard)
George Fant (WKU, So., Forward)
2012-13 Men's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Third Team
Marcus Hooten (Arkansas State, Sr., Guard)
Raymond Cintron (Middle Tennessee, Sr., Guard)
Javier Carter (South Alabama, Sr., Forward)
Freddie Goldstein (South Alabama, Sr., Guard)
T.J. Price (WKU, So., Guard)
2012-13 Men's Basketball Preseason Player of the Year
Tony Mitchell (North Texas, So., Forward)
2012-13 Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll
First Place Votes in Parentheses
1. Middle Tennessee - 65 points (11)
2. South Alabama - 51 points
3. WKU - 47 points
4. Florida Atlantic - 29 points
5. Troy - 22 points
6. FIU - 17 points
1. North Texas - 55 points (11)
2. Arkansas State - 40 points
3. UALR - 33 points
4. Louisiana-Lafayette - 24 points
5. Louisiana-Monroe - 13 points
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
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