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Blue Raiders travel to South Alabama Saturday

Tipoff slated for 7:05 p.m.

January 4, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Blue Raider men's basketball team looks to bounce back when it travels to South Alabama for a 7:05 p.m. contest on Saturday at the USA Mitchell Center.

GAME INFORMATION
Matchup: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (11-4, 3-1 SBC) at South Alabama Jaguars (7-6, 4-1 SBC)
Date: Saturday, Jan. 5
Time: 7:05 p.m. CT
Location: Mobile, Ala.
Facility: USA Mitchell Center

MEDIA INFORMATION
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

Twitter: @MTAthletics, @MT_MBB

SERIES INFORMATION

  • Overall: MT leads, 15-12// As Sun Belt foes: MT leads, 13-9
  • In Mobile: MT leads, 7-6
  • Under coach Davis: MT leads, 12-8
  • First meeting: USA 55, MT 49 (12/8/79 in Murfreesboro)
  • First Sun Belt meeting: USA 72, MT 64 (1/13/01 in Mobile)
  • Last year: MT 68, USA 47 (1/21/12 in Mobile) // MT 68, USA 52 (12/31/11 in Murfreesboro)
  • Current Streak: MT, 3 games
  • Longest MT streak: 3 games, 2x (last: 2/5/11 - present)// Longest USA streak: 4 games (12/4/82 - 12/28/01)
  • Noteworthy: MT has won five of the last six meetings beween the two teams and has won four of the last five in Mobile.

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 of its last five games.
  • MT has now reached the 10-win mark before the new year for two straight seasons.
  • MT has won seven of the last nine Sun Belt regular-season games, dating 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.
  • The Knight brothers combined for 35 points at Arkansas State and both Tweety and Marcos had career-highs in scoring. Marcos tallied 23 points and Tweety added 12.
  • 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 SOUTH ALABAMA

  • The Jaguars are coming off a 77-72 win at ULM on Thursday
  • Augustine Rubit leads USA with 20.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game
  • Xavier Roberson (13.6 ppg) and Mychal Ammons (11.1 ppg) are also averaging double-figure scoring
  • USA is 3-2 at home
  • The Jaguars are led by interim head coach Jeff Price, who took over on Dec. 19 following the retirement of Ronnie Arrow

LAST TIME OUT
Tweety Knight's 3-pointer at the buzzer propelled the Blue Raiders into overtime at Arkansas State, but it was the Red Wolves who prevailed with a 66-60 win on Thursday night at the ASU Convocation Center. Tweety Knight finished with a career-high 12 points and grabbed six rebounds, while his brother, Marcos Knight, also poured in a career-best 23 points and neared a double-double with nine boards. The duo also combined for five assists and five steals. Shawn Jones and Kerry Hammonds each added seven points, and Hammonds collected a career-high seven rebounds.

The contest was a seesaw affair throughout, featuring 20 lead changes and 14 ties, four of which came in the final 3:19 of the game

ON THE ROAD AGAIN
MT wraps up its longest bus trip of the season Saturday at South Alabama. The Blue Raiders will travel about 1,211 miles and spend roughly 19 hours while busing from Murfreesboro, Tenn., to Jonesboro, Ark., to Mobile, Ala., and back to Murfreesboro.

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.

RANKINGS
MT is currently ranked 42nd in the Sagarin Ratings and 42nd 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 all but one game this season, currently owning a 458-205 advantage.

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 564-485 rebounding advantage, an average of 37.6 compared to 32.3.

DEEP BENCH
All 10 Blue Raiders that saw action at Louisiana on Nov. 29 also scored in the contest. Through 15 games, seven different Blue Raiders have been the leading scorer and nine Blue Raiders have combined for 38 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.

He earned his second TSWA weekly honor on Jan. 3 after averaging 11.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in leading the Blue Raiders to a 4-0 record over a two-week period. He posted a pair of double-figure scoring performances, including his third double-double of the season with 15 points and 13 rebounds against FIU. The Hialeah, Fla., native scored 13 points versus Tennessee State and registered eight points and nine boards in a victory over Vanderbilt at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

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 fifth in the Sun Belt with a 42.7 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.