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Raiders set for Sunshine State swing

MT heads south to face Florida Atlantic

February 5, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee men's basketball team (15-7, 5-2 C-USA) hits the road for a two-game stint in the Sunshine State, traveling to Florida Atlantic (8-14, 3-4 C-USA) Thursday for a 6 p.m. tip-off in Conference USA action.

GAME INFORMATION

Date: Thursday, Feb. 6
Tip-Off: 6 p.m. CT
Teams: Middle Tennessee at Florida Atlantic
Location: Boca Raton, Fla.
Arena: FAU Arena (5,000)
Radio: WGNS (100.5 FM, 101.9 FM, 1450 AM) / WMOT (89.5 FM) / WQZQ (102.1 FM)
Play-by-Play: Chip Walters
Live Video | Live Audio | Live Stats

VIDEO
Men's Basketball vs. Florida Atlantic
THE SERIES

This will be the 16th meeting between Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic. The Blue Raiders hold an 11-4 advantage over the Owls and have won the last four meetings. MT is 4-2 against FAU when playing in Boca Raton, Fla. In the teams' last matchup, Middle Tennessee picked up a 73-56 victory on the road Feb. 2, 2013.

SCOUTING FLORIDA ATLANTIC

The Owls are 8-14 overall and 3-4 in C-USA play. FAU snapped a two-game skid with a 65-57 win at Marshall Feb. 1. The Owls dropped a 66-57 decision at FIU Jan. 25 and then a 62-53 loss at Charlotte Jan. 30.

At Marshall, the Owls were led by a double-double from Justin Raffington, putting up 19 points and snagged 10 rebounds. He shot 8-for-9 from the floor and was 3-for-6 at the line. Pablo Bertone posted a game-high 20 points off of 8-for-15 shooting with two buckets from behind the arc. Bertone was second on the team in rebounding, pulling down seven boards, while handing out three assists and swiping four steals.

On the season, Bertone paces FAU with 18.3 points per game to lead all scorers in C-USA. Raffington ranks third in the league in rebounding, collecting 9.1 boards a contest, while averaging 10.0 points an outing. Jackson Trapp and Marquan Botley help the Owl offense, recording 9.9 and 9.5 points per game, respectively.

Middle Tennessee is tied for fourth in the C-USA standings, while FAU is tied for 8th. In conference only games, Bertone is tied for fifth in scoring, averaging 16.4 points a game, while MT's Shawn Jones is ninth with 15.4 points per contest. On the boards, Raffington leads the league in C-USA play, grabbing 11.0 rebounds an outing. Jones is seventh in conference only games, corralling 8.1 boards a game.

BLUE RAIDER BULLETS

• With a 64-48 win over Old Dominion Feb. 1, MT moved to 11-2 at home this season. The Raiders are 42-4 inside Murphy Center over the last three seasons. MT is 13-3 this season when playing in the state of Tennessee, including a 1-1 record in neutral site games.

• Senior forward Shawn Jones, collected his eighth double-double of the season against ODU and ranks fifth in C-USA and 40th in the NCAA statistical rankings. He posted 20 points and 10 rebounds, marking his sixth 20-point performance of the season. Senior Kerry Hammonds II added 14 points against the Monarchs.

• In an 84-67 victory over East Carolina Jan. 30, Jones recorded 22 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.

• The Blue Raiders went 1-1 on their first C-USA road swing, dropping a heartbreaking 58-53 decision at Tulsa Jan. 23 before picking up their first C-USA road win with a 70-63 victory at North Texas Jan. 25. Jones led MT at Tulsa with 22 points. The game was televised on Fox Sports 1, marking MT's first national C-USA broadcast.

• For the 13th time this season, four Blue Raiders tallied double-digit points against North Texas as Hammonds led the way with 18 points. Neiko Hunter added 13 points, while Jaqawn Raymond and Marcus Tarrance posted 12 and 11, respectively.

• In the NCAA statistical rankings released Jan. 31, two MT seniors landed in the top 25 in three different categories. Jones ranks 11th in the NCAA and leads C-USA in field goal percentage, shooting 59.6 from the floor, while point guard Tweety Knight is 19th in the nation and second in the league in total steals, swiping 49. Knight is 24th in the country and third in C-USA in steals per game with 2.23.

• With 317 points this season, Jones has recorded 970 career-points, just shy of joining the 1,000-point club. With 550 career rebounds, he is looking to become just the 15th player in program history to amass 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. With 137 career blocks, he could be the third player in MT history to have 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks.

• Five of MT's nonconference opponents from this season are currently leading or tied for first-place in their respective conferences - Cincinnati (American), Florida (SEC), Murray State and Belmont (OVC) and Southern (SWAC).

• UTEP snapped a three-game winning streak for MT with a 63-54 decision Jan. 16. The loss ended the Raiders' 17-game conference win-streak, dating back to a 66-60 overtime loss at Arkansas State Jan. 3, 2013. MT was also enjoying a 25-game home conference win-streak. MT's last home conference loss came Jan. 13, 2011 against Florida Atlantic via a 71-61 decision.

• Knight swiped a career-high six steals against UTEP, marking the first time a Blue Raider has grabbed five or more steals since Knight snagged five at Akron Dec. 2, 2012.

• With an 89-84 overtime victory against UAB Jan. 11, the Blue Raiders became the fifth MT program to win its opening C-USA game, joining the women's basketball, soccer, volleyball and football teams.

• Jones led MT with 22 points against UAB, while Hammonds had 17 points and Reggie Upshaw, Jr. and Hunter posted 15 and 12 points, respectively.

• The game at Tennessee State Jan. 7 tipped off a stretch of nine TV games over the next 14 contests for the Blue Raiders. MT opened the New Year with a 74-66 win at TSU, moving to 3-1 against instate foes this season with its lone loss coming against Belmont Dec. 3.

• Against Maine Dec. 29, Jones recorded a double-double of 16 points and a career-high 20 rebounds. The 20 boards marked a first for a Blue Raider since Napoleon Rhodes snagged 20 at UNC Greensboro Nov. 30, 2002. Jones was named TSWA Player of the Week for his efforts Jan. 1. Hunter tied his career-best 20 points against the Black Bears, which he set in the season-opener against Southern Nov. 10.

• MT dropped 69-48 loss at Cincinnati Dec. 21 as Hammonds led the Raiders 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. Knight paced the Raiders on the boards at Cincinnati, pulling down a career-high 10 boards.

• 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 recorded a double-double of 18 points and 15 boards. His 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 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.

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