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Raiders ready for Dr Pepper Classic in Chattanooga

MT opens tourney with Maine Sunday

December 28, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee men's basketball team (8-4) heads to Chattanooga, Tenn., for the Dr. Pepper Classic hosted by UT Chattanooga Dec. 29-30. The Blue Raiders open the four-team tournament, taking on Maine at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. MT will play either tournament host Chattanooga or Grand Canyon Monday.

GAME INFORMATION

Date: Sunday, Dec. 29
Tip-Off: 3:30 p.m. CT
Teams: Middle Tennessee vs. Maine
Location: Chattanooga, Tenn.
Arena: The McKenzie Arena (11,660)
Television: GoMocs.com (PPV)
Radio: WGNS (100.5 FM, 101.9 FM, 1450 AM) / WMOT (89.5 FM) / The Game (102.5 FM, 97.5 FM)
Play-by-Play: Duane Hickey
Color Analyst: Kyle Turnham
Live Video | Live Audio | Live Stats

BLACK AND BLUE

This will be the first meeting between Blue Raiders and the Black Bears. Maine is 0-5 on the road this season, while the Middle Tennessee is 1-3. This will be the first neutral site game this season for both the Bears and Raiders.

SCOUTING THE BLACK BEARS

Maine is 1-9 on the season with its lone win on the season coming against Fisher Nov. 10 via a 111-64 decision. The Black Bears are currently on an eight-game skid, dropping its most recent decision 94-70 at Providence Dec. 21.

In the team's last outing, Zarko Valjarevic led the way at Providence, putting up 16 points. Xavier Pollard was second on the team, recording 15 points to go along with a team-best five rebounds, while Christian Ejiga chipped in eight points off the bench.

Pollard posted a team-high 19 points and grabbed six boards for Maine in a 90-80 loss against Army Dec. 13. Troy Reid-Knight and Garet Beal tallied 11 points each in the contest, while Valjarevic and Dimitry Coronel put up nine points apiece.

On the season, Maine has four players averaging double-figures. Pollard paces the Black Bears, recording 16.7 points per game and 5.1 rebounds a contest. Coronel and Valjarevic follow close behind, posting 13.7 and 13.4 points an outing, respectively. Shaun Lawton closes out the double-digit averages for Maine, tallying 10.0 points per game.

On average this season the Black Bears have been outscored by their opponents 90.0-75.8. Maine has also lost the battle of the boards against its opponents this season. The Bears pull down 32.9 rebounds a game, compared to their competition's 43.8. On the flip side, Middle Tennessee is outscoring its foes on average 75.1-66.8. The Raiders are also edging their opponents on the boards, collecting 39.0 rebounds a game compared to their opponents' 31.5.

BLUE RAIDER BULLETS

• Middle Tennessee fell to 1-3 on the road this season with a 69-48 loss at Cincinnati Dec. 21. Senior Kerry Hammonds II led the Raiders against the Bearcats with 17 points, going 5-for-8 from three-point range and marking the first time a Blue Raider as made five threes since Raymond Cintron netted six against Troy Feb. 9, 2013.

• Senior point guard Tweety Knight paced the Raiders on the boards at Cincinnati, pulling down a career-high 10 boards.

• MT reached the 100-point plateau for the second time this season, earning a 102-52 victory over Tennessee Temple Dec. 17 and moving to 2-1 against in-state foes this season as six Blue Raiders scored double-figures. The 50-point win matched the largest margin of victory for MT this season, which was set against Fisk Dec. 9. Freshman Reggie Upshaw, Jr., led the Blue Raiders against Tennessee Temple with a career-high 18 points, while Tharone Chilton also notched a career-best with 11 points.

• Seniors Neiko Hunter and Shawn Jones tallied double-figures against the Crusaders, recording 16 and 11 points, respectively. The contest marked Hunter's seventh-straight double-digit scoring performance and Jones' fourth consecutive.

• MT took on its fifth 2013 NCAA Tournament team of the season Dec. 14, dropping a 72-63 decision on the road at reigning SEC Tournament Champion Ole Miss. Jones led MT, recording his fourth double-double of the season with 18 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Hunter also tallied 18 points.

• Jones' 15 rebounds against the Rebels marked the first time an MT player collected 15 boards in a game since Lee Nosse grabbed 15 in a 94-88 loss to New Mexico Jan. 10, 2002. Jones went on to earn Player of the Week honors from C-USA and the Tennessee Sportswriters Association (TSWA) Dec. 16 and 17, respectively.

• Knight handed out a career-best 10 assists at Ole Miss Dec. 14, marking the first time a Blue Raider has recorded 10 assists since James Washington dished out 11 against Cumberland Nov. 27, 2009.

• The Blue Raiders picked up a 115-65 victory over Fisk Dec. 9. The contest was also the first time this season seven Blue Raiders have scored double-figures. MT took a 56-34 lead into the locker room at the half. The last time the Blue Raiders scored 50 points in the first half was Jan. 8, 2011 against UL-Lafayette. The high-scoring affair was also the first time Middle Tennessee scored 100 points in a game since defeating Houston Baptist 109-79 Feb. 13, 2010, marking the largest scoring output for MT under head coach Kermit Davis. This was the second time MT has scored 100 points during Davis' tenure.

• MT hosted Belmont for a Blackout Dec. 3 as the Raiders' were handed their first home loss in 21-straight contests. The game was MT's fourth this season against a 2013 NCAA Tournament team. Jones led MT, recording a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds for his second 20-point outing of the season.

• The Blue Raiders posted a 65-55 come-from-behind victory over South Alabama Nov. 30 as Hunter and Hammonds tallied a team-high 14 points each. Knight had 12 points, while Jacquez Rozier had 10, marking the first time in Rozier's career he turned in back-to-back double-digit scoring performances.

• After falling on the road at No. 16/14 Florida, MT returned to its winning ways, earning an 80-62 win on the road at Murray State Nov. 26. Five Blue Raiders scored double-figures as Rozier posted a career-best performance. Rozier recorded his first career double-double with career-bests of 12 points and 10 rebounds.

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