No. 21/25 Raiders host Rice in Play 4Kay Power of Pink game
Saturday's 2 p.m. matchup features two of the nation's best playersFebruary 7, 2014 · @MTAthletics
No. 21/25 Middle Tennessee (18-4, 7-1 Conference USA) returns home to host Rice (10-11, 3-5 C-USA) in a matchup featuring two of the nation's premier players. The Raiders' Ebony Rowe and the Owls' Jessica Kuster are set to square-off in a 2 p.m. tilt on Saturday. The contest is also the Blue Raiders' annual Play 4Kay Power of Pink game in which all fans are encouraged to wear pink for cancer awareness.
Matchup: Rice at No. 21/25 Middle Tennessee
Date: Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Arena: Murphy Center (11,520)
Tickets: Click here or call 1-888-YES-MTSU
Promotion: Play 4Kay Power of Pink Game
Overall: First Meeting
Under Rick Insell: First Meeting
In Murfreesboro: First Meeting
• No. 21/25 Middle Tennessee (18-4, 7-1 C-USA) returns home to host Rice (10-11, 3-5 C-USA) in the annual Play 4Kay Power of Pink game on Saturday. The Blue Raiders are coming off a 68-56 loss at Southern Miss, which snapped a 17-game win streak. The streak was the fourth longest in program history and the second longest in C-USA.
• Ebony Rowe recorded her 18th double-double of the season on Wednesday with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Her double-double total ranks third in the NCAA. Rowe's 11.8 rebounds per game is 11th nationally, while her 21.8 points per contest is 19th.
• Middle Tennessee's scoring defense of 55 points allowed per game ranks seventh in the NCAA.
• The Blue Raiders are 32nd in scoring margin (+12.1) and 40th in three-point defense (28.0).
• MT is 2-1 after a loss this season and 41-19 all-time under head coach Rick Insell. The Raiders own a 72-3 mark inside the Murphy Center under Insell against conference opponents.
Play 4Kay Power of Pink Game Set
• No. 21 Middle Tennessee returns to the Murphy Center this Saturday for the annual Play 4Kay Power of Pink game against Rice at 2 p.m. All fans that wear pink to the game can purchase a discounted $5 ticket. The Blue Raiders will auction all 15 of the exclusive game-worn pink uniforms immediately following the game. Proceeds from the auctioned jerseys will be split between the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and Saint Thomas Rutherford Foundation's Power of Pink fund. Fans can also donate online to Play 4Kay by clicking here.
• Prior to the game, select cancer survivors will be introduced and stand with the Blue Raiders during the national anthem. Thanks to local sponsors, special Play 4Kay t-shirts will be thrown out in the stands throughout the game. After the contest, the entire 2013-14 Blue Raider squad will sign autographs on the main floor of Murphy Center.
Series with the Owls
• Middle Tennessee and Rice meet for the first time on Saturday.
• The Blue Raiders are 15-1 under Coach Rick Insell against teams from the Lone Star State. MT has defeated North Texas 11 times, Houston twice, UTEP once and UTSA once during that stretch, while 12 of the 15 wins have been by double digits.
• Rice (10-11, 3-5 C-USA) has lost four consecutive games after opening league play with a 3-1 record. Most recently, the Owls fell 75-58 to Southern Miss in Houston. The Owls are averaging 63.6 ppg, while giving up 65.8 per game to opponents. Offensively, Rice is shooting 39.4 percent (496-of-1258) from the floor, as opponents are connecting on 39.2 percent (500-of-1274). Rice is led by Jessica Kuster, who is averaging 20.4 ppg and 13.8 rpg. Kuster joins Ebony Rowe as the only two active seniors who have averaged a double-double in all four seasons. Maya Hawkins is Rice's second leading scoring with 7.5 ppg, while making a team-best 15 three-pointers. The Owls committing 17.3 turnovers per game for a -3.2 turnover margin.
Raiders' RPI Rating
• Middle Tennessee has an RPI rating of 27 in the latest from RealTimeRPI. Other top-100 C-USA teams include UTEP (49), Southern Miss (52), East Carolina (64) and Tulane (90).
• C-USA's RPI is 10th out 32 leagues.
• Middle Tennessee has scored 20 or more points off turnovers in 14 games this season. The Blue Raiders have racked up 20+ points off turnovers in 10 of the last 11 games. MT has reached 30+ points off turnovers in wins over Kennesaw State (32) and North Texas (31).
Laken Back in the Lineup
Senior Laken Leonard has stepped up as of late and has started the last four games. The guard is averaging 9.6 points in her last six contests, including three double-figure games (11 vs. UTEP, 15 at UAB and 11 at USM). Leonard has also grabbed three or more rebounds in four of those six games.
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