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Raiders roll over Roadrunners, 80-58

MT improves to 9-2 at home

January 18, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee men's basketball team (12-6, 2-1 C-USA) used a 13-0 first half run to speed away from the UTSA Roadrunners (6-11, 2-2 C-USA) in an 80-58 victory Saturday night as the Blue Raiders improve to 9-2 inside the Murphy Center this season.

The Blue Raiders limited the Roadrunners to 33.3-percent shooting on the night, including 22.7-percent from behind the arc. Middle Tennessee on the other hand shot 47.4-percent from the floor with a 33.3-percent mark from long distance.

Three Blue Raiders finished in double-figures as Kerry Hammonds II led the way with a game-high 19 points, netting five three-pointers. The five treys tied his season-high for the third time this season with the last coming against UAB Jan. 11. Junior guard Marcus Tarrance provided a lift off the bench for MT and scored a career-high 16 points, including 7-for-9 from the free throw line. Reggie Upshaw, Jr. added to his impressive rookie campaign, scoring 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Upshaw has scored in double-figures in seven of his last 10 games.

"We guarded them really well," said MT head coach Kermit Davis. "We pressured the ball, overplayed the wings. We were more aggressive. We created offense out of our defense by getting out in transition. I thought we moved the ball and kind of got back to our identity as a team and we can't lose that because our margin of error is so low. If we lose that, then we become a very average team."

Middle Tennessee opened the contest on a 9-0 run that continued into the first media timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Upshaw used a tip-in to push the spurt to 11-0 as Hammonds II proceeded to hit a pair of free throws to cap the run at 13-0, nearly six minutes into the first half.

UTSA hit its first shot of the night on a three-pointer by Jordan Sims with 14:09 left in the opening frame. The Roadrunners did pick up their shooting through the final 14 minutes, but the Blue Raiders held on to the lead and too a 37-23 advantage into the locker room at the half.

The second half was much like the first for the Blue Raiders, opening with 10-straight points, spanning the first four minutes. Hammonds accounted for five of his game-high 19 through the four minute stretch with a jumper and one of his five threes. Following Hammonds' triple, Neiko Hunter hit one of his own to extend the Blue Raider lead to 24 with 17 minutes left to play.

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With the Middle Tennessee advantage floating around 25, the Blue Raiders and Roadrunners battled through the next six minutes of play before MT went on another run. At 64-36 with 10 minutes remaining, MT went on a 12-2 run that was broken up only by two made free-throws by UTSA's Devon Agusi.

Jaqawn Raymond capped off the run with his lone made basket of the night, a three-pointer from the left side of the arc to put the Raiders up 76-38 with 6:52 on the clock. The 38-point differential was a game-high for MT and was matched two more times within the next two minutes.

UTSA closed out the contest with a 16-0 run that spanned the final five minutes to close the gap, resulting in the 80-58 Blue Raider victory.

Agusi finished with a team-high 18 points for UTSA and hit 10-of-11 from the charity stripe. Kaj-Bjorn Sherman added 12 points, while Sims tossed in 11 for the Roadrunners.

MT won the battle of the boards 41-29 as Raymond led MT with six rebounds. Upshaw snagged five boards, while Hammonds had four. The Raiders bested the Roadrunners in the paint 26-18, while MT claimed the contest of second chances 23-5.

The Blue Raiders return to action Jan. 23, traveling to Tulsa for MT's first Conference USA road game. Tip-off against the Golden Hurricanes set for 8 p.m. and will air on Fox Sports 1.

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