Blue Raiders set for showdown against Vanderbilt at Bridgestone

Friday's game will air on ESPNU at 8 p.m. CT

December 20, 2012 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee and Vanderbilt are set for Friday's showdown at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. The Blue Raiders and Commodores will tip off at 8:05 p.m. CT on ESPNU with Rich Hollenberg and Carolyn Peck on the call.

Matchup: Vanderbilt Commodores (5-4, 0-0 SEC) vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (8-3, 1-0 SBC)
Date: Friday, Dec. 21
Time: 8:05 p.m. CT
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Facility: Bridgestone Arena

Play-by-play: Rich Hollenberg
Analysis: Carolyn Peck

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

Live Video - Live Audio -  Live Stats

Men's Basketball vs. Vanderbilt
Twitter: @MTAthletics, @MT_MBB


  • Overall: VU leads, 29-4
  • At Bridgestone: First meeting
  • Under Davis: VU leads, 4-0
  • First meeting: VU 53, MT 5 (1913-14)
  • Last meeting: VU 84, MT 77 (1/28/12 at Vanderbilt)
  • Last MT win: MT 93, VU 90 (OT) (2/1/95 in Murfreesboro)
  • Current Streak: VU, 5 games
  • Longest MT streak: 1 game (4x) // Longest VU streak: 12 games (1936-1993)


  • MT is undefeated at home this season at 5-0 and holds a 20-2 record at Murphy Center over the past two seasons. The Blue Raiders have won 18 straight regular-season home games.
  • The men's and women's teams have combined for 32 straight regular-season home wins, which ranks sixth nationally. Stanford (85), Baylor (47), Kansas (36), Syracuse (34) and Ohio State (33) are ahead of MT.
  • MT has won three of the last five meetings against SEC opponents.
  • MT has beaten an SEC opponent in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history.
  • Marcos Knight has scored double figures in nine of the last 10 games and all but two games this season.
  • After starting last season 4-0 and with the 5-1 start this season, MT got off to its best back-to-back starts since the 1986-87 and 1987-88 seaons. MT started 1986-87 5-0 and 1987-88 6-1.
  • Raymond Cintron scored a career-high 22 points at Akron on Dec. 2 and Marcos Knight matched his career-high with 21 points in the contest. Knight also scored 21 at Savannah State on Nov. 13.
  • The 97 points against Alabama State in the season-opener marked the most since MT scored 109 against Houston Baptist on Feb. 13, 2010.
  • MT was unanimously picked to win the Sun Belt East Division this year by the league's head coaches.
  • Four Blue Raiders earned preseason all-conference honors. Marcos Knight was named to the first team, JT Sulton and Bruce Massey to the second team and Raymond Cintron to the third team.
  • Raymond Cintron was rated as the No. 39 shooter in the country according to CBSSports.com's Top 50 shooters.
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  • The Commodores are coming off a 66-55 win over Cornell on Monday
  • Kedren Johnson leads a trio of Commodores scoring double figures with 17.0 points per game
  • Kyle Fuller (13.0 ppg) and Rod Odom (10.4 ppg) are also averaging double-figure scoring
  • Kevin Bright leads Vanderbilt with 7.3 rebounds per game
  • The Commodores lost 88 percent of their offense from last season, returning seven letterwinners and no starters from last year's 25-11 squad that lost in the third round of the NCAA tournament

Led by four players scoring double figures, Middle Tennessee ran away with a 77-48 win against the Tennessee State Tigers on Tuesday night. Raymond Cintron led the Blue Raiders with 15 points, tying a career-high with five made three-pointers. Marcos Knight scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half and added a team-high six rebounds. Neiko Hunter and Shawn Jones each scored 13 points. MT held Tennessee State to 29.8 percent shooting from the field, its lowest field goal percentage allowed this season. Tweety Knight set a new career-high with seven assists. As a team, the Blue Raiders had 20 assists on 28 field goals.

MT has continued to defend its home court this season after finishing 15-2 in Murphy Center last year. The Blue Raiders are 5-0 at home this year and haven't lost a regular-season game in Murphy Center since Nov. 20, 2011 when MT dropped an 87-84 double overtime decision to Belmont. That's 18 straight regular-season home victories for the Blue Raiders. MT is now 20-2 over the last two seasons in Murphy Center.

With 10 of the top 12 scorers returning from last season's team, it's no surprise that MT has a deep bench. The Blue Raider bench has outscored its opponent in every game this season, currently owning a 355-141 advantage.

With the win over Ole Miss on Dec. 8, MT has now beaten an SEC opponent in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history. The Blue Raiders defeated both Tennessee and Ole Miss last season. It also marked the first win over an SEC opponent in Murphy Center since a 93-90 overtime victory against Vanderbilt on Feb. 1, 1995. MT is now 1-1 against the SEC this year (Lost to No. 10 Florida on Nov. 18) and has won three of the last five meetings against SEC opponents.

With South Alabama's Ronnie Arrow retiring this season, Kermit Davis is now the Sun Belt's winningest active coach. He currently ranks fourth all-time in league wins, behind Arrow (112), Gene Bartow (111), and Dickey Nutt (103).

The Blue Raiders have out-rebounded their opponent in eight of 11 contests this season. MT currently owns a 404-356 rebounding advantage, an average of 36.7 compared to 32.4.

Shawn Jones raked in the Sun Belt and Tennessee Sports Writers Association Player of the Week awards on Nov. 27 after posting a pair of double-doubles against UCF and Texas Southern. He tallied 18 points and 13 rebounds, both career-highs, in a 75-61 win over UCF. The Hialeah, Fla., native followed that up by setting a new career-high with 21 points and also grabbed 12 boards in a 79-52 victory over Texas Southern. For the week, Jones averaged 19.5 points and 12.5 rebounds while shooting 66.7 percent from the field.

Head coach Kermit Davis has used seven different starting lineups this year. Through the first five games, Davis used five different lineups. Games 5-7 remained unchanged, and games 8-10 were the same. In all, 11 different Blue Raiders have started at least one game this year.

All 10 Blue Raiders that saw action at Louisiana on Nov. 29 also scored in the contest. Through 11 games, six different Blue Raiders have been the leading scorer and seven Blue Raiders have combined for 29 double-figure scoring performances.

MT currently has 10 players averaging more than 12 minutes per game. Half of those are averaging more than 19 minutes.

MT is currently ranked 32nd in the Sagarin Ratings and 40th according to the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings. The Blue Raiders are the highest ranked Sun Belt team in both ratings.

Middle Tennessee was named the Mid-Major Team of the Week by ESPN.com's Myron Medcalf on Dec. 13. The Blue Raiders earned the nod after knocking off Ole Miss, 65-62.

The 97 points against Alabama State on Nov. 9 marked the most since MT scored 109 against Houston Baptist on Feb. 13, 2010. MT cracked the 90 plateau twice last season, scoring 90 against Austin Peay and 94 against ULM.

Raymond Cintron was listed at No. 39 on CBSSports.com's Top 50 shooters for the 2012-13 season after hitting. The San Juan, Puerto Rico, native currently ranks seventh in the Sun Belt with 2.3 treys per game and leads the team with 25 3-pointers this year. Against Akron on Dec. 2, Cintron sank four 3-pointers en route to a career-high 22 points. He tied his career-high of five 3-pointers against Tennessee State on Dec. 18.

Middle Tennessee will also face four shooters on the list throughout the 2012-13 season. Florida's Erik Murphy, Texas Southern's Omar Strong, Belmont's Ian Clark and Tennessee State's Robert Covington were listed among the top 50.

The 2012-13 MT squad features two sets of brothers. Marcos Knight is the older brother of Tweety Knight, with both joining the Blue Raiders via Chipola Junior College. Zane Gibson is the older brother of Gavin Gibson, both coming to MT from Baylor School.

The regular season is underway for former Blue Raider LaRon Dendy. The 2012 Sun Belt Player of the Year has started every game for Kolossos this year. The Greenville, S.C., native is currently the team's leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 15.6 points and 6.1 boards per game.

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