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Top-seeded Blue Raiders open SBC Championships versus ULM

MT looking for seventh SBC Tournament title

March 8, 2013 · @MTAthletics

Middle Tennessee women's basketball opens the 2013 Sun Belt Championships on Saturday with No. 9 seed ULM in the quarterfinals. Tipoff is set for Noon inside the Summit Arena and will be broadcast on the Sun Belt Network.

GAME INFORMATION

Matchup: No. 9 ULM (10-20, 7-13 Sun Belt) vs. No. 1 Middle Tennessee (22-7, 17-3 SBC)
Date: Saturday, March 9, 2013
Time: 12:00 p.m.
Location: Hot Springs, Ark.
Arena: Summit Arena (6,000)

VIDEO
Women's Basketball vs. UL-Monroe
SERIES INFORMATION

Overall: MT leads series, 9-0
Under Rick Insell: 9-0
In Sun Belt Tournament: First meeting
Last Meeting: MT 74, ULM 53 - Feb. 23, 2013 - Murfreesboro, Tenn.

MEDIA INFORMATION

Television: The Sun Belt Network (CSS Channel 27 in Murfreesboro/Nashville)
Play-by-Play: Lyn Rollins
Analyst: Debbie Leonard
Radio: WMOT (89.5 FM)/WGNS 1450 AM, 100.5 FM, 101.9 FM
Play-by-Play: Dick Palmer
Live Video - Live Audio - Live Stats

PHOTOS
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Quick Hitters

• Middle Tennessee (22-7, 17-3 SBC) enters the Sun Belt Championships as the No. 1 seed for the fifth consecutive year. The Blue Raiders join Green Bay, Gonzaga, Marist and Stanford as programs to have actively won five or more titles. During the past two seasons, MT has posted a 33-3 mark in regular season SBC action.
• MT's men's team also earned the No. 1 seed for the tournament, marking the second time since WKU in 2003 and MT last season that one school has earned both top seeds. Louisiana Tech in 1999 is the only other school to accomplish the feat. MT is the first to have both teams earn the top seed in back-to-back years.
• Since the Blue Raiders began Sun Belt competition in 2000-01, MT has made nine appearances in the Sun Belt title game and has collected six tournament titles. Middle Tennessee owns a 27-6 record in the SBC Tournament, including a 16-3 mark under Rick Insell.
• Last season, the Blue Raiders dropped a heartbreaking 71-70 overtime decision to UALR in the Sun Belt Championship game. A layup by the Trojans' Taylor Ford gave UALR the tournament title.
• Middle Tennessee will face No. 9 ULM on Saturday at Noon. The Warhawks defeated No. 8 Florida Atlantic, 71-63, on Friday. If the Blue Raiders win, they would face the winner of the No. 4 Arkansas State/No. 5 FIU game on Sunday at Noon. MT is 7-1 against opponents on its side of the bracket. The only loss was to FIU, 58-51, on Dec. 20.
• For the second consecutive year, Icelyn Elie, Kortni Jones and Ebony Rowe were selected to the All-Sun Belt team. Jones and Rowe garnered first team honors, while Elie was selected as a second team recipient.
• All-America candidate and Naismith Award top 30 finalist Ebony Rowe leads the Raiders with 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. Kortni Jones follows with 16.2 points and Icelyn Elie with 14.3 ppg in 29 contests.

SBC Quarterfinal Matchup

• Middle Tennessee will take on No. 9 seed ULM on Saturday at Noon. The Blue Raiders defeated the Warhawks in both matchups. MT won 66-48 in Monroe, while upending ULM, 74-53, in Murfreesboro. MT has never met the Warhawks in the Sun Belt Championships and holds a 9-0 edge in the all-time series. The Blue Raiders are 12-1 in their SBC Championship opening game.

SBC Tournament Nuggets

• Middle Tennessee is the No. 1 seed for the fifth consecutive year. MT's men's team also earned the No. 1 seed for the tournament, marking the second time since WKU in 2003 and MT last season that one school has earned both top seeds. Dating back to 1983, Louisiana Tech in 1999 is the only other school to accomplish the feat. Middle Tennessee is the first program to have both teams earn the top seed in back-to-back years.
• Since the Blue Raiders began Sun Belt competition in 2000-01, MT has made nine appearances in the SBC title game and has collected six tournament titles. Middle Tennessee owns a 27-6 record in the SBC Tournament, including a 16-3 mark under Rick Insell.

Blue Raider Pep Rally Set

• Middle Tennessee's Band of Blue and the Blue Raider cheerleaders will host on a pep rally each day. On Saturday and Sunday, the spirit squad is set to perform at 10 a.m. until 10:15 a.m. at the Austin Hotel. On Monday, the performance will be set for 11 a.m. until 11:15 a.m.

College Sports Madness Honors Blue Raiders

• The online publication College Sports Madness decorated the Blue Raiders with several awards. Coach Rick Insell was named the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year, while junior forward Ebony Rowe earned Player of the Year accolades. Rowe and teammate Kortni Jones were first team CSM All-Sun Belt selections, while Icelyn Elie was selected to the second team.

Statistically Streaking

• Middle Tennessee ranks in 10 top 3 Sun Belt Conference statistical categories. The Raiders are the league pacesetters in scoring margin (+11.4), assists per game (13.5) and offensive rebounds (15.5).
• MT has shot 43 percent from the field, while averaging out scoring their opponents by 14.6 points in the last 18 contests.
• Rowe, Jones and Elie are all boasting strong numbers during that stretch. Rowe is pacing MT with 20.2 points, followed by Jones with 18.2 and Elie with 14.8 per game.
• The Raider's 17 treys at Troy was tied for the fourth most in program history and the fourth best performance for a DI program this season. MT last hit 17 at FIU on Feb. 24, 2010.
• Over the past four years, Middle Tennessee women's basketball has dropped only five Sun Belt Conference games and posting a 64-6 record during that span.

Rowe a Naismith Top 30 Finalist

• All-America candidate Ebony Rowe became the fourth Blue Raider under Rick Insell to earn the distinction as a Top 30 finalist for the Naismith Women's Basketball Player of the Year Award.
• The junior forward ranks in four Top 25 NCAA categories and joins former players Alysha Clark, Chrissy Givens and Amber Holt as previous Raiders to earn that honor. The four finalists will be announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club in late March.

Five in a Row

• Middle Tennessee won the Sun Belt Conference regular season title with a 17-3 mark. The Blue Raiders won their fifth consecutive regular season title.
• MT joins the likes of Green Bay, Gonzaga, Marist and Stanford to have currently won five or more consecutive regular season titles.

MT Trifecta Grab All-Sun Belt Honors

• MT led the Sun Belt Conference with three All-Conference selections. Kortni Jones and Ebony Rowe earned first team honors, while Icelyn Elie was selected to the second team.
• The three selections are the most of any Sun Belt team this season and marks the second year in a row that Elie, Jones and Rowe earned postseason All-Conference accolades.
• Rowe led the Blue Raiders with 20 points and 11 rebounds in 29 contests. The Lexington, Ky., native led the league with a 54 field goal percentage (227-of-417) and 5.4 offensive rebounds per game.
• Jones garnered her second first team All-Conference selection after averaging 16.2 points per game, which ranked second on the team. She led the Sun Belt with 4.5 assists and 2.5 triples per game.
• Elie averaged 14.3 points and 7.4 rebounds in 29 games for the Raiders this season. She earned a second team All-Conference selection for the second consecutive year. For the season, Elie ranked fourth in the Sun Belt in offensive rebounds, seventh in total rebounds and eighth in points scored.
• Since the Blue Raiders joined the Sun Belt in 2000-01, MT has racked up 28 All-Sun Belt selections and 20 first team accolades. Since Rick Insell arrived in 2005, MT has picked up 18 All-Sun Belt selections.

Earning Votes

• Middle Tennessee earned six votes in the most recent USA Today Sports/ESPN Coaches poll released on Tuesday, March 5.

Experience Pays Off

• Middle Tennessee's Icelyn Elie, Kortni Jones and Ebony Rowe have all reached double-figures in 13 out of the last 18 games.
• Rowe has shot 58 percent during that 18 game stretch. Meanwhile, Kortni Jones has reached 20 or more points in seven out of the last 11 games. On the boards, Icelyn Elie has registered five or more rebounds in 18 consecutive contests.
• The tandem has put together 4,208 points in 9,971 minutes of action in a combined 328 games played.

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