Blue Raiders tip-off season against No. 4 Tennessee

Friday's contest to be televised on MyTV 30

November 7, 2013 · @MTAthletics

Middle Tennessee opens its 39th season this Friday, Nov. 8 against No. 4/4 Tennessee inside the Murphy Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. with the game being televised locally on MyTV 30.


Matchup: No. 4/4 Tennessee (0-0) at Middle Tennessee (0-0)
Date: Friday, Nov. 8, 2013
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Arena: Murphy Center (11,520)
Tickets: Click here or call 1-888-YES-MTSU
Promotion: Blue Out


Overall: UT leads series, 13-0
Under Rick Insell: 0-6
In Murfreesboro: MT leads series, 0-1
Last Meeting: UT 88, MT 81 (OT) - Nov. 28, 2012 - Knoxville, Tenn.

Women's Basketball vs UT

Television: MyTV 30
Play-by-Play: Chip Walters
Color Analyst: Kyle Turnham
Sidelines: Katie Myers
Radio: WMOT (89.5 FM)/WGNS 1450 AM, 100.5 FM, 101.9 FM
Play-by-Play: Dick Palmer
Color Analyst: Duane Hickey
Live Video (C-USA Digital Network) - Live Audio - Live Stats

Quick Hitters

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• Middle Tennessee opens its 39th season on Friday when the Blue Raiders host Tennessee.
The Raiders have won five consecutive season openers dating back to 2008.
• For the first time since 1997, Middle Tennessee will open up against an SEC opponent. MT last hosted Ole Miss in a narrow 61-60 loss on Nov. 17, 1997.
• The last time the Raiders opened the season at home against a ranked opponent was Nov. 10, 2006 when MT hosted defending national champion and then-ranked No. 1 Maryland.
• MT made its fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance in 2013 after clinching the Sun Belt regular season and tournament title.
• In the preseason C-USA poll, MT was picked as the league favorite by the coaches.
Ebony Rowe, who averaged 19.7 points and 11.2 rebounds last year, earned preseason All-Conference USA honors.

Rowe Earns Preseason All-Conference USA Accolades 

Middle Tennessee senior Ebony Rowe earned preseason All-Conference USA as selected by the league's coaches. Rowe averaged 19.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per game last season. She also ranked in the top-25 in four categories.

Rowe Selected to Wade Watch List 

Ebony Rowe was one of 25 players selected to the prestigious Wade Trophy Watch list. The Lexington, Ky., product is the only women's basketball player in school history to have reached 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career. The senior forward produced 21 double-doubles, averaged 19.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per game, while ranking among the top-25 in four NCAA categories last season. In addition to Rowe, FIU's Jerica Coley was named to the list.

Sun Belt Success 

The Blue Raiders capped off a successful run in its' Sun Belt farewell tour with a regular season and conference tournament title. The Raiders won a combined 14 Sun Belt Conference titles, regular season and tournament, since joining the league in 2000. MT put together an all-time mark of 180-43 (.807) during that stretch.

Looking at Tennessee 

The Lady Vols went 27-8 a year ago, including a 14-2 mark in the SEC. Tennessee advanced to the Elite Eight, falling 86-78 to eventual national runner-up Louisville. The Lady Vols return their two leading scorers from a year ago in senior guard Meighan Simmons (16.8 ppg) and sophomore forward Bashaara Graves (13.2 ppg). Graves was also Tennessee's leading rebounder a year ago (8.0 rpg). The Lady Vols also bring back assists leader Ariel Massengale (4.5 apg).

Series with Tennessee 

• Middle Tennessee and Tennessee meet for the 14th time on Friday and for the fourth time at Murphy Center.
• MT and the Lady Vols first squared off against each other on March 6, 1976.
• The two squads played in an overtime bout last season that saw No. 16/14 UT prevail 88-81 in Knoxville.
• The two teams last met in Murfreesboro on Nov. 25, 2009 with No. 6/5 Tennessee winning 69-52.

Holding Their Own vs. the SEC

• The Blue Raiders are 4-3 in games against SEC opponents played at Murphy Center since Rick Insell took over the program for the 2005-06 season.
• The last SEC team to come to the Murphy Center left Murfreesboro on the short end of one of the year's biggest women's college hoops upsets. No. 6 Kentucky came to town on Dec. 28, 2011 and fell victim to a 70-58 loss to the Blue Raiders. Three MT players were in double-figures with the Raiders getting 23 from Icelyn Elie, 21 from Ebony Rowe and 15 from Kortni Jones. MT shot 46 percent from the floor in the victory.
• Tennessee is the first SEC opponent to open the Blue Raiders' season since the Blue Raiders faced Ole Miss at the Murphy Center in the season opener on Nov. 15, 1997. The matchup with the Rebels to open the 1997-98 campaign was the fourth straight year the Blue Raiders opened against an SEC opponent, having played Ole Miss for three straight years after hosting Georgia to open the 1994-95 slate.

Hosting Ranked Programs 

• Friday is the first time the Blue Raiders have opened the season with a ranked opponent since MT fell at home to No. 1 Maryland, 80-76, at the Murphy Center on Nov. 10, 2006.
• MT has hosted six ranked opponents at the Murphy Center since the arrival of Coach Insell in 2005-06. The Blue Raiders have a 2-4 mark against ranked foes and picked up victories against No. 8 LSU (67-56) in 2007 and No. 6 Kentucky (70-58) in 2011.

Season Openers 

• Middle Tennessee has won five consecutive season openers since opening up with a 85-47 win over Lafayette in 2008.
• Since Rick Insell's arrival in 2005, the Raiders have won five of their eight season openers. MT last fell at Old Dominion in 2007.

Rowe Returns

Ebony Rowe was named Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association in 2012-13.
• The Lexington, Ky., product averaged 19.7 points and 11.2 rebounds in 33 games. She was ranked in four categories in the NCAA's top 25 and completed 21 double-doubles during the season.
• Rowe grabbed a single-season school record of 189 offensive rebounds, while earning second all-time in defensive rebounds (179) and total rebounds (368) during a season.
• Her 650 points scored was the seventh-best single-season performance during Middle Tennessee's 38-year history.
• The WBCA Honorable Mention All-America honor is the fourth for a Blue Raider. Alysha Clark was a two-time selection in 2009 and 2010 and Amber Holt earned honorable mention during the 2008 season.

Returning Pieces

• Middle Tennessee returns nine student-athletes from a year ago.
Ebony Rowe, Janay Brinkley and Caroline Warden return as starters from last year's squad.
• Veteran guard Shanice Cason averaged 4.2 points and 4.0 rebounds, while Laken Leonard contributed 4.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
• Oak Ridge product KeKe Stewart returns for her senior season after posting 2.6 points and 1.8 boards in 30 games last year.
• Seniors Lauren March and Janiece Johnson are also expected to garner more playing time moving into 2013-14.
• Sophomore guard MacKenzie Sells, who played in 12 games last season, possesses a valuable three-point threat for the Blue Raiders.

A New Look

• This season, MT welcomes five freshmen and a transfer. Four of the five freshmen are from the Volunteer State: Shy Copney, Olivia Jones, Tyisha Petty and Caya Williams. Guard China Dow, a ESPN Top-100 recruit, hails from Louisville, Ky. After sitting out a year, Pittsburgh transfer TiAnna Porter will don the Blue Raider uniform. High Point standout Cheyenne Parker must sit out the 2013-14 season due to the NCAA transfer rules.

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