Raiders knock off Monarchs, 64-48

Jones tallies second-straight double-double

February 1, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee (15-7, 5-2 C-USA) men's basketball team used a second half surge to fly past the Old Dominion Monarchs (10-12, 4-3 C-USA) 64-48 Saturday inside the Murphy Center, extending the Blue Raider winning streak to three games.

The Blue Raiders were paced by Shawn Jones and Kerry Hammonds II, who were the only two Blue Raiders to reach double-figures. Jones had a game-high 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting, grabbing 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double this season and second straight. Hammonds added 14 points and hit key three-pointers, giving the Blue Raiders momentum in both halves to pull away from the Monarchs. Freshman Reggie Upshaw, Jr. kicked in nine points with six rebounds, while senior Neiko Hunter added eight points.

Men's Basketball vs. Old Dominion
"We talked about it on our trip last weekend that our team has grown in some areas defensively," said MT head coach Kermit Davis. "We're getting tougher. The key to the game is the 33.0-percent we held them defensively. They're a good offensive team. For the second consecutive game we shot over 50-percent. We really got some paint touches. Shawn Jones has had a terrific weekend so I'm proud of what he's done. I knew the game was going to be just like that, just a tough, grinded game against a tough team."

MT had a slow start in the first half, but managed to hit its stride and erase an early seven-point deficit. With 6:13 left in the opening frame, an Upshaw layup put the Raiders up 24-14. The Monarchs then went to work and cut that in half as Middle Tennessee took a 29-24 lead into the locker room at the halftime.

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ODU and MT opened the second half much like the first with each fighting to make a basket and keep the momentum. After Old Dominion pulled within three (36-33) with 14:18 to go, MT rattled off seven-straight points to jump back in front by 10 with less than 13 minutes to play.

After the MT lead dipped back down to six with 11:45 remaining, Jacquez Rozier hit 1-of-2 at the line for the Raiders followed by back-to-back threes by Hammonds and Jaqawn Raymond. Both teams exchanged baskets for a few minutes, before Middle Tennessee jump out front 57-40 off of five-straight points from Hammonds with 6:14 to play.

Running down the final six minutes and change, the Blue Raiders kept the double-digit lead and only let it get to as low as 13. After an old-fashion three point play by Jones, MT held the 64-46 advantage with the 18 point lead being the largest of the game. With one more ODU bucket the final score was set at 64-48.

Old Dominion was led by a trio of players, reaching double-figures as Dimitri Batten led the way with 14 points. Aaron Bacote pitched in 13 points, while Richard Ross added 11. Denzell Taylor managed to snag a team-high eight rebounds.

The Blue Raiders shot 51.2-percent from the field for the game and 60.0-percent in the second half. On the night, ODU was held to 16-of-48 for 33.3-percent from the floor. MT won the battle of the boards 34-31.

"We're playing a lot better team defense," Davis said. "Shawn Jones is helping us a bunch in the back. He's just a force. When he's not blocking shots, he's around and everybody knows he's around. That helps your defensive field goal percentage."

The Blue Raiders will be back in action Thursday, Feb. 6, traveling to Florida Atlantic for a 6 p.m. tip-off in Conference USA action.

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