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MT puts home win-streak on the line in season-opener

Raiders open regular season with Southern

November 9, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee men's basketball team tips-off its 2013-14 season Sunday at 4 p.m., putting its 28-game regular season home winning-streak on line as the Blue Raiders welcome 2013 NCAA Tournament participant Southern University to the Murphy Center.

GAME INFORMATION

Date: Sunday, Nov. 10
Time: 4 p.m. CT
Teams: Southern at Middle Tennessee
Location: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Arena: Murphy Center (11,520)
Tickets: Click here or call 1-888-YES-MTSU
Webstream: GoBlueRaiders.com
Radio: WGNS (FM 100.5, FM 101.9, AM 1450) / WMOT (89.5 FM) / The Game 2 (94.9 FM)
Play-by-Play: Chip Walters
Color Analyst: Kyle Turnham
Live Video | Live Audio | Live Stats

VIDEO
Men's Basketball vs. Southern University
BLUE RAIDER BULLETS

• Middle Tennessee opened the 2013-14 season, hosting Truman State Nov. 4 for an exhibition. The Blue Raiders walked away with a 78-66 victory as senior Neiko Hunter posted a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Senior Shawn Jones paced the team with 17 points, while newcomer Marcus Tarrance tallied 14 points.

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• The Blue Raiders open the 2013-14 campaign with a four-game homestand, welcoming Southern, North Florida, Akron and UALR to the Murphy Center. MT then hits the road for the first time Nov. 21, traveling to the Sunshine State to take on Florida. The upcoming season should be exciting and challenging for the Blue Raiders as they face three NCAA Tournament teams in their first five games in Southern, Akron and Florida.

• Southern University open its season Nov. 8 on the road at No. 17/17 Marquette, dropping a seven-point decision, 63-56. The Jaguars never led in the contest, but found themselves down by 14 with 13:24 to go in the first half and managed to cut the deficit in half.

• The Blue Raiders have won conference titles three out of the last four seasons in the Sun Belt Conference and look for similar success moving to Conference USA. MT reached the NIT quarterfinals in 2011-12 and followed that with an NCAA First Four appearance in 2012-13.

• MT set school records in overall wins and conference wins last season, going 28-6 and 19-1, respectively. The 2012-13 campaign marked the ninth winning season for the Blue Raiders under head coach Kermit Davis and fifth in the last six years. Over the last two years, MT boasts a 55-13 combined record for a winning percentage of .808.

• Despite losing six seniors who were an integral part of ending MT's 23-year NCAA Tournament drought, Middle Tennessee returns eight players from last season's squad, including starters Kerry Hammonds II and Shawn Jones. MT reached the Big Dance last year for the first time since 1989 and the seventh time in program history.

• MT was one of three teams in the country last season to finish 16-0 or better at home. The Blue Raiders are currently enjoying the second-longest regular season home winning streak in the nation at 28 games. They will put that streak on the line in their season-opener Nov. 10 at Murphy Center, hosting 2013 NCAA Tournament participant Southern University at 4 p.m.

• Of the eight returners from last season's team, there are six seniors suiting up this year in Hammonds, Jones, Zane Gibson, Neiko Hunter, Tweety Knight and Torin Walker. This crew knows what it means to be a leader and has big shoes to fill. Last year's senior class was the winningest class in program history, posting a 90-43 record. This season's seniors have the chance to surpass that mark. This year's group currently has 71 wins, recording back-to-back 25-plus win seasons.

• Junior Jacquez Rozier and redshirt-sophomore Gavin Gibson round out the returning eight for MT. The returning eight have been responsible for setting the tone for the eight newcomers in practice.

• The newcomers consist of four freshman, one sophomore and three juniors. This year's recruiting class is heavy in the backcourt with six guards, compared to two forwards. However, Jaqawn Raymond isn't too new to Blue Raider basketball as he's already been on campus for year, after transferring from NC State and sitting out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules.

TRACKING THE JAGUARS

This will be the seventh meeting between Southern University and Middle Tennessee. MT holds a 5-1 advantage in the all-time series and a 3-0 mark at home. The Blue Raiders have won the last four games against the Jaguars. This will be the first time MT head coach Kermit Davis has faced Southern. He is 6-1 in his career against Southwest Athletic Conference opponents and 5-1 as the Middle Tennessee skipper.

The last time the two squads matched up was Dec. 7, 1996, when MT claimed a 91-67 victory in Baton Rouge, La. The long Jaguar victory in the series came Jan. 6, 1994 with a 96-86 decision at Southern.

Southern opened the 2012-13 season on the road at No. 17/17 Marquette Nov. 8, dropping a seven-point decision, 63-56. The Jaguars found themselves in 14-point hole early in the first half, but managed to shave that down to a six-point deficit by the end of the opening frame. Southern outrebounded the Golden Eagles 38-35 as Calvin Godfrey snagged a game-high 11 rebounds. Malcolm Miller paced SU with 14 points, while Yondarius Johnson and Tre Lynch each added 11 points.

Sunday's matchup will be a battle between a pair of 2013 NCAA Tournament teams. The Jaguars nearly knocked out top-seeded Gonzaga, dropping a 64-58 decision in the round of 64. SU earned a trip to the Big Dance after winning the SWAC tournament title.

Southern went 23-10 in 2012-13 with a 14-3 mark in SWAC play, finishing second in the regular season. The Jaguars return five letterwinners from last season's NCAA Tourney team, including two starters in Javan Mitchell and Cameron Monroe. Mitchell averaged 9.4 points per game and 4.9 rebounds a contest, while Monroe added 2.0 points a game and 1.3 boards an outing.

The Jaguars return their second leading scorer from a season ago in Malcolm Miller. He averaged 15.5 points per game with 5.9 rebounds a contest, however he did not start once in 2012-13. Christopher Hyder is also back in action for SU. He was second on the team with 80 assists last season, behind graduated senior Jamal Grace, who had 107. Southern also returns Yondarius Johnson, who was the fifth highest scorer on the team last year, putting up 6.4 points per game.

SU was voted to finish second in the 2013-14 SWAC Preseason Poll. Texas Southern claimed the top spot in the SWAC poll, earning 171 points with 10 first-place votes, while the Jaguars garnered 167 points with nine first-place votes.

Southern head coach Roman Banks coached against Middle Tennessee in his first year as an assistant coach Dec. 7, 1996. Davis and Banks have never coached against each other.

Live audio, stats and a webstream of Sunday's game will be available online at GoBlueRaiders.com.

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