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Blue Raiders and Hilltoppers square off in regular-season finale on Sun Belt Network

MT's 21 road wins over past two years are second-most nationally

March 1, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee men's basketball heads to WKU for the regular-season finale, seeking its 16th-straight victory. The Blue Raiders and Hilltoppers tip off at 5:30 p.m. CT Saturday and the game will air on CSS with Tom Dore and Bob Donewald on the call.

Tickets are now available for the Sun Belt Championship in Hot Springs, Ark. All-session booklets are $83 and fans can purchase by calling 1-888-YES-MTSU or clicking here. For more information about the tournament and Hot Springs, click here.

GAME INFORMATION
Matchup: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (26-4, 18-1 SBC) at WKU Hilltoppers (16-14, 10-9 SBC)
Date: Saturday, March 2
Time: 5:30 p.m. CT
Location: Bowling Green, Ky.
Facility: E. A. Diddle Arena

VIDEO
Men's Basketball vs. WKU
TV: Sun Belt Network (CSS)
Play-by-play: Tom Dore
Analysis: Bob Donewald

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: WKU leads, 92-36 // As Sun Belt foes: WKU leads, 18-10
  • At WKU: WKU leads, 38-6 (dating back to 1957) // As Sun Belt foes: WKU leads, 11-3
  • Under Davis: WKU leads, 14-10
  • First meeting: WKU 32, MT 21 (1914-15, location unavailable)
  • Last meeting: MT 72, WKU 53 (1/26/13 in Murfreesboro)
  • Last meeting in Bowling Green: WKU 73, MT 67 (2/25/12)
  • Last MT win in Bowling Green: MT 69, WKU 60 (2/10/11)
  • Current Streak: MT, 1 game
  • Longest MT streak: 6 games (1924-1930) // Longest WKU streak: 23 games (1931-1955)

BLUE RAIDER FASTBREAK POINTS

  • Kermit Davis is the Sun Belt's all-time winningest coach with 116 league wins. He broke the record at UALR in MT's 66-61 win on Feb. 16, surpassing Ronnie Arrow's (South Alabama) mark of 112.
  • MT clinched its second-straight Sun Belt regular-season title and third in the last four years, in addition to the No. 1 seed at the league tournament with the win over South Alabama on Feb. 23.
  • MT finished a perfect 16-0 at home this season, including one at Bridgestone Arena. MT holds a 30-2 record at Murphy Center over the past two seasons. The Blue Raiders have won 28 straight regular-season home games, which is second-longest in the country.
  • MT has won 15 in a row, the longest streak in MT history, third-longest nationally and third-longest for league games in Sun Belt history. MT has also won 19 of the last 20 games.
  • MT has won seven in a row on the road, also a school record, and the 10 road wins this year are second only to the 11 from last year. Over the past two years, MT is 21-7 on the road and is tied for the second-most road wins nationally over the past two years, behind Bucknell's 22.
  • MT's 18 league wins are a school record and match the Sun Belt record, which New Orleans set in 1992-93.
  • MT is one of two teams in the country 16-0 or better at home this year. Michigan is the only other team 16-0 at home. It is the best home record in school history.
  • MT is sixth nationally with an .828 winning percentage over the past two seasons and tied for fifth with 53 combined wins in the last two years.
  • MT currently ranks 16th nationally in scoring defense (57.3) and 12th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.289).
  • MT has the second-most wins in the country, behind Gonzaga with 28. 
  • MT is one win shy of matching the school-record of 27 wins, set last year.

MORE MT QUICK HITTERS

  • MT is three wins shy of matching the Sun Belt record for overall victories, set by WKU with 29 in 1986-87 and again in 2007-08.
  • The four opponents MT has lost to have a combined winning percentage of .781 (89-25). 
  • MT is out-scoring Sun Belt opponents by 16.9 points per game.
  • JT Sulton has 990 career points and would become the 30th Blue Raider in the 1,000-point club.
  • MT has back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since the 1987-88 and 1988-89 seasons.
  • With the 35-point win over South Alabama and 41-point win over ULM, MT registered its largest back-to-back victories since 1977-78 when the Blue Raiders beat Culver-Stockton 81-34 (47) and Urbana College 84-48 (36).
  • With the 18-4 start this year and the 20-2 start last year, MT is off to its best back-to-back starts in 26 years. Prior to the past two seasons, MT's best starts included an 18-5 in 1985-86 record and 19-3 in 1986-87.
  • Raymond Cintron was rated as the No. 39 shooter in the country according to CBSSports.com's Top 50 shooters.

SCOUTING WKU

  • The Hilltoppers have won three in a row and three of their last four at home
  • WKU is 11-3 at home this year
  • T.J. Price leads WKU with 15.0 points per game
  • Jamal Crook (12.8 ppg) and George Fant (12.7 ppg) are also averaging double figures. Fant also leads WKU with 6.7 rebounds

PREVIOUS MEETING
Middle Tennessee used a second-half run of 14 unanswered points en route to a 72-53 win over the WKU Hilltoppers on Jan. 26 at Murphy Center. Marcos Knight had a team-high 15 points and also added five assists. Bruce Massey scored 10 points, all in the second half, and collected seven rebounds, six assists and four steals in the game. Neiko Hunter also cracked double-figure scoring with 13 points thanks in part to 7-for-11 free throw shooting. MT hit 48.1 percent from the field and limited WKU to 39 percent.

LAST TIME OUT
Middle Tennessee reeled off its school-record 15th consecutive win with the 66-56 victory over Troy Thursday night at Trojan Arena. Marcos Knight led MT with 20 points, his fourth game of 20 or more points this season and 25th double-figure scoring performance. Knight neared a double-double with a game-high eight rebounds. Bruce Massey also nearly had a double-double, scoring nine and dishing out eight assists to match his career-best. JT Sulton added 10 points and is now just 10 away from cracking 1,000 points for his career.

The Blue Raiders finished the contest shooting 52 percent while holding Troy to 37 percent from the field. Troy took a 4-1 lead two minutes into the contest before MT went on a 14-0 run and never looked back, taking the lead for the remainder of the contest.

CHAMPS AGAIN
With the 85-50 win over South Alabama on Feb. 21, MT clinched its second-straight Sun Belt regular-season title and third in the last four years. MT was the first team in the country to clinch its conference title. The Blue Raiders earned the No. 1 seed for the upcoming conference tournament and a first-round bye.

RECEIVING VOTES
MT is receiving votes in both the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls. MT received votes in the coaches poll for the sixth straight week with 29 and AP Poll for the second straight week with two.

ALL THEY DO IS WIN
With 26 wins, the Blue Raiders have clinched a winning season. This is the ninth winning season under Davis and fifth in the last six years for MT. MT has also cracked double-figure wins for six straight seasons. The Blue Raiders have won double-digit games at home in each of the past six years and nine of 11 seasons under Davis. MT now has back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since the 1987-88 and 1988-89 seasons. Ironically, in 1987-88, MT finished 23-11, went to the NIT and won two games, including one over Tennessee. The Blue Raiders followed that up with a 23-8 record and NCAA tournament berth where they beat Florida State before falling to Virginia.

SUN BELT'S WINNINGEST COACH
Kermit Davis became the Sun Belt's all-time winningest coach with MT's 66-61 victory at UALR on Feb. 16, 2013 with his 113th league win. Davis surpassed South Alabama's Ronnie Arrow who had 112 league wins. Davis currently has 116 league wins.

HOME DOMINANCE
MT has made a habit of winning big at home in Sun Belt action. The Blue Raiders have won 11 straight conference home games by double figures, dating back to an eight-point victory over UALR on Feb. 11, 2012.

STIFF COMPETITION
MT's four losses this season have come against some tough competition. The four teams that have beaten the Blue Raiders have a .781 (89-25) combined winning percentage. Florida currently ranks No. 6 in the coaches poll and No. 8 in the AP poll, while Akron is receiving votes in the AP Poll and ranked 24th in the coaches' poll.

HEADED TO C-USA
MT will join Conference USA for the 2013-14 season. Next year will feature a 16-game schedule for with each school playing every team in the league once and a geographic opponent twice (no divisions). MT's home and away opponent will be UAB. The 2014 C-USA men's and women's basketball tournaments will take place at UTEP.

SUSTAINED LEADERSHIP
On Jan. 5, MT women's basketball head coach Rick Insell earned his 183rd win to become the program's all-time winningest coach. Insell joined MT men's basketball head coach Kermit Davis, who set the school record on Dec. 29, 2011, as an all-time wins leader. MT is just one of four schools (Gonzaga, Sacred Heart and UALR) to have both their current men's and women's basketball coaches as all-time wins leaders.

RANKINGS
MT ranks the highest in the Sun Belt in all of the following:
NCAA RPI: 27
ESPN Daily RPI: 24
ESPN BPI: 45
Pomeroy: 25
Sagarin: 52
ESPN Mid-Major Poll: 2
Bleacher Report Mid-Major: 3
AP Poll: RV (2)
USA Today Coaches Poll: RV (29)

HOME SWEET HOME
MT has continued to defend its home court this season after finishing 15-2 at home last year. The Blue Raiders are 15-0 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 28 straight regular-season home victories for the Blue Raiders. MT is 30-2 over the last two seasons in Murphy Center.

EXPERIENCED SQUAD
According to Ken Pomeroy, MT is tied as the second-most experienced team in the country with an average of 2.53 years, behind only Valparaiso (2.69) and matching Savannah State. The roster features a combined 13 juniors and seniors compared to four freshmen and sophomores.

DEEP BENCH
The Blue Raider bench accounts for 42.1 percent of the minutes, which ranks 11th nationally according Pomeroy. MT currently has nine players averaging more than 12 minutes per game. Seven of those are averaging more than 18 minutes. Ten different Blue Raiders have been the leading scorer and 11 Blue Raiders have combined for 87 double-figure scoring performances.

BENCH PRODUCTION
The Blue Raider bench has outscored its opponent in all but one game this season, currently owning a 906-430 advantage, or an average of 30.2 to 14.3 points per game. MT's bench scored a season-high 55 points against Troy on Feb. 9.

MAINTAINING THE LEAD
MT did not trail for three straight games from Feb. 2-9 or five of the last seven. MT has not trailed after halftime in 14 of the last 15 games. The Blue Raiders are 22-0 this season when leading at halftime.

SWITCHING IT UP
Head coach Kermit Davis has used 12 different starting lineups this year. In all, 11 different Blue Raiders have started at least one game this year.

DOMINATING DEFENSE
Pomeroy ranks the Blue Raiders ninth in 3-point defense at 28.9 percent and 11th nationally in defensive efficiency with a rating of 87.2. 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.

INTIMIDATION FACTOR
Opponents haven't had much luck at the line against MT. The opposition is shooting 62.6 percent from the stripe, lowest in the country.

OUT-REBOUNDING OPPONENTS
The Blue Raiders have out-rebounded their opponent in 23 contests this season. MT currently owns a 1106-922 rebounding advantage, or 36.9 compared to 30.7 rpg.

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.

WINNING BIG
MT's 52-point victory over Troy on Feb. 9 was the largest margin of victory in a Sun Belt game in program history. MT's 82-50 win over UALR and 82-60 win over Louisiana marked the first time in 15 years the Blue Raiders beat consecutive conference opponents by at least 20 points. On Jan. 13, 1998, MT beat OVC foe Tennessee Tech, 80-60, then on Jan. 15 beat Austin Peay, 63-38.

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.

CINTRON RECEIVES RECOGNITION
Raymond Cintron was listed at No. 39 on CBSSports.com's Top 50 shooters for the 2012-13 season. The San Juan, Puerto Rico, native is currently tied for first in the Sun Belt with a 44 3-point field goal percentage and leads the team with 66 3-pointers this year. Against Akron on Dec. 2, Cintron sank four 3-pointers en route to a career-high 22 points. He hit a career-high six treys against Troy on Feb. 9.

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.

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