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Blue Raiders take undefeated league record to Arkansas State Thursday

Tipoff slated for 7:05 p.m. in Jonesboro, Ark.

January 2, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Blue Raider men's basketball begins its two-game road swing at Arkansas State on Thursday. Middle Tennessee will look to remain undefeated in Sun Belt play as the Blue Raiders tip off against the Red Wolves at 7:05 p.m. CT in Jonesboro, Ark.

GAME INFORMATION
Matchup: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (11-3, 3-0 SBC) at Arkansas State Red Wolves (8-5, 2-2 SBC)
Date: Thursday, Jan. 3
Time: 7:05 p.m. CT
Location: Jonesboro, Ark.
Facility: ASU Convocation Center

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

Live Video - Live Audio -  Live Stats

Twitter: @MTAthletics, @MT_MBB

SERIES INFORMATION

  • Overall: MT leads, 14-11 // As Sun Belt foes: MT leads, 12-6 (records do not include two ASU wins vacated by NCAA in 2006 and 2007)
  • In Jonesboro: ASU leads, 6-4 (does not include one ASU win vacated by NCAA)
  • Under coach Davis: MT leads, 11-5
  • First meeting: ASU 48, MT 33 (1947-48)
  • First Sun Belt meeting: ASU 73, MT 61 (1/14/01 in Murfreesboro)
  • Last year: ASU 64, MT 61 (3/4/12 in Sun Belt tournament quarterfinal, Hot Springs, Ark.) // MT 59, ASU 46 (1/19/12 in Murfreesboro)
  • Current Streak: ASU, 1 game
  • Longest MT streak: 7 games (1/9/03-1/12/06)// Longest ASU streak: 5 games (12/21/89-2/10/01)

BLUE RAIDER FASTBREAK POINTS

  • MT is undefeated at 8-0 in home games this season, including one at Bridgestone Arena, and holds a 22-2 record at Murphy Center over the past two seasons. The Blue Raiders have won 20 straight regular-season games at Murphy Center.
  • MT has won four in a row and six of its last seven games. 
  • MT is one of two teams still undefeated in Sun Belt play (WKU, 4-0).
  • MT has not trailed in three off its last four games, including the last two. MT has not trailed in a contest for 41:09 consecutive minutes.
  • MT's largest deficit in a Sun Belt game this season is two points vs. Louisiana on Nov. 29.
  • MT has now reached the 10-win mark before the new year for two straight seasons.
  • MT has won seven of the last eight Sun Belt regular-season games, daiting back to Feb. 9, 2012.
  • MT currently ranks 23rd nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.279).
  • Marcos Knight has scored double figures in 11 of the last 13 games and all but three 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.

SCOUTING ARKANSAS STATE

  • The Red Wolves have won their last two contests, including a 63-54 win at South Alabama on Dec. 29
  • ASU is 5-1 at home this season
  • Ed Townsel leads the Red Wolves with 16.2 points per game
  • Brandon Peterson leads ASU in rebounding (9.8 rpg) and is second in scoring (11.2 ppg)
  • The Red Wolves were picked to finish second in the Sun Belt West

LAST TIME OUT
The Blue Raiders moved to 3-0 in the Sun Belt on New Year's Eve with a 75-57 win over North Texas at Murphy Center. Middle Tennessee held the Mean Green to 33.9 percent shooting from the field while shooting 50 percent. Six players scored at least eight points for the Blue Raiders against the preseason favorite to win the Sun Belt's West Division in North Texas. Marcos Knight led MT with 12 points, 10 of which came in the second half. He also had a team-high seven rebounds.

HOME SWEET HOME
MT has continued to defend its home court this season after finishing 15-2 in Murphy Center last year. The Blue Raiders are 8-0 in home games, including a win at Bridgestone Arena, 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 20 straight regular-season victories in Murphy Center for the Blue Raiders. MT is now 22-2 over the last two seasons in Murphy Center.

STILL BEST IN THE SUN BELT
At 3-0 in Sun Belt play, the Blue Raiders are one of two unbeaten teams in the league, along with WKU at 4-0. MT has won seven of its last eight Sun Belt regular-season contests.

RANKINGS
MT is currently ranked 32nd in the Sagarin Ratings and 39th according to the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings. The Blue Raiders are the highest ranked Sun Belt team in both ratings. The Blue Raiders are also ranked No. 4 in the Bleacher Report's Mid-Major Top 25 and 13th in CBS' Power Pyramid. 

BENCH PRODUCTION
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 438-175 advantage.

MAINTAINING THE LEAD
MT has not trailed in three of its last four games, including the last two games. MT has not trailed since the 1:09 mark of the Dec. 21 contest vs. Vanderbilt, or the last 41:09. MT's largest deficit in a Sun Belt contest this season is two points vs. Louisiana on Nov. 29. The last time MT trailed in a Sun Belt contest was the 11:09 mark of the second half against Louisiana on Nov. 29.

DOMINATING DEFENSE
MT held North Texas to 18.5 percent shooting in the first half of the Dec. 31 contest. That is the best field goal percentage defense for the Blue Raiders since Feb. 1, 2007 when MT held Denver to 18.2 percent (4-for-22) in the second half. MT also held North Texas to five field goals in the first half, a season-low for an opponent. It was the fewest field goals for an opponent in a half since Arkansas State had five on Jan. 19, 2012 in the second half.

TAKING ON THE SEC
With the win over Vanderbilt on Dec. 21, MT has now beaten two SEC opponents in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history. MT also beat Ole Miss on Dec. 8. The Blue Raiders defeated both Tennessee and Ole Miss last season.

The win over Ole Miss this year 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 2-1 against the SEC this year (Lost to No. 10 Florida on Nov. 18) and has won four of the last six meetings against SEC opponents.

SUN BELT'S WINNINGEST COACH
With South Alabama's Ronnie Arrow retiring earlier this season, Kermit Davis is now the Sun Belt's winningest active coach. He is one of only four league coaches to crack the century mark and currently ranks fourth all-time with 101 league wins, behind Arrow (112), Gene Bartow (111), and Dickey Nutt (103).

OUT-REBOUNDING OPPONENTS
The Blue Raiders have out-rebounded their opponent in 11 contests this season. MT currently owns a 522-442 rebounding advantage, an average of 37.3 compared to 31.6.

DEEP BENCH
All 10 Blue Raiders that saw action at Louisiana on Nov. 29 also scored in the contest. Through 14 games, seven different Blue Raiders have been the leading scorer and nine Blue Raiders have combined for 36 double-figure scoring performances.

MORE ON THE DEPTH
MT currently has 10 players averaging more than 10 minutes per game. Half of those are averaging more than 18 minutes.

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONES
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.

SWITCHING IT UP
Head coach Kermit Davis has used eight different starting lineups this year. Through the first five games, Davis used five different lineups. In all, 11 different Blue Raiders have started at least one game this year.

TEAM OF THE WEEK
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.

HIGH SCORING
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.

CINTRON RECEIVES RECOGNITION
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 third in the Sun Belt with a 44.4 3-point field goal percentage and leads the team with 32 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.

BROTHERLY LOVE
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.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW
Kermit Davis, a former assistant coach at Idaho, is one of four current head coaches that comprised the 1986-87 Idaho staff.
Tim Floyd - Head Coach (now HC at UTEP)
Larry Eustachy - Assistant Coach (now HC at Colorado State)
Kermit Davis - Assistant Coach (now HC at Middle Tennessee State)
Randy Bennett - Graduate Assistant (now HC at Saint Mary's)

DENDY UPDATE
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.

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