MT continues Florida swing at FIU Saturday

Raiders eye fifth-straight win

February 7, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MIAMI - The Middle Tennessee men's basketball team (16-7, 6-2 C-USA) continues its Sunshine State swing, taking on FIU (12-11, 4-4 C-USA) Saturday for a 1 p.m. CT tip-off in Conference USA action as the Blue Raiders look extend their winning-streak to five games.


Date: Saturday, Feb. 8
Tip-Off: 1 p.m. CT
Teams: Middle Tennessee at FIU
Location: Miami
Arena: U.S. Century Bank Arena (5,000)
Radio: WGNS (100.5 FM, 101.9 FM, 1450 AM) / WMOT (89.5 FM) / The Game (102.5 FM, 97.5)
Play-by-Play: Chip Walters
Live Video | Live Audio | Live Stats

Men's Basketball vs. Florida International

This will be the 31st meeting between Middle Tennessee and FIU. The Blue Raiders hold a 23-7 advantage over the Panthers, including an 11-3 mark in Miami. In the teams' last matchup, FIU knocked off MT 61-57 in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament March 10, 2013. The loss snapped an eight-game series win-streak for the Blue Raiders.


The Panthers are 12-11 overall and 4-4 in C-USA play. FIU snapped a two-game skid with a 78-73 win against UAB Feb. 6. The Panthers dropped an 80-68 decision at Marshall Jan. 30 and then a 73-61 loss at Charlotte Feb. 1.

Against UAB, the Panthers were led by a double-double from Rakeem Buckles, putting up 21 points and snagging 11 rebounds. The double-dip was his 10th of the season, which tied as the most in Conference USA. He also recorded five blocks and three steals. Three other FIU players reached double-figures as Tymell Murphy had 16 points, while Dennis Mavin added 14. Jerome Frink posted 13 points to go along with eight boards.

On the season, three Panthers are averaging double-figures in scoring as Murphy paces FIU with 16.7 points per game, while collecting 8.0 rebounds a contest. Buckles is second the team in scoring and leads the team on the board, registering 13.7 points and 9.0 rebounds an outing. Mavin averages 11.3 points a game.

Middle Tennessee is fourth in the C-USA standings, while FIU is 8th. MT ranks sixth in the league in scoring, while FIU is 12th. On boards, the Blue Raiders are third in C-USA with a +5.1 rebounding margin, while the Panthers are fourth with a +4.2 mark. Two FIU players rank in the C-USA statistical rankings in scoring as Murphy is sixth, while Buckles is 16th. Buckles is fourth in rebounding, while Murphy is tied for seventh. Three Blue Raiders made the C-USA statistical rankings in scoring as Shawn Jones is 10th, while Neiko Hunter is 20th and Kerry Hammonds II is 22nd. Jones also sits fifth in the conference in rebounds per game. In C-USA only play, Murphy is second in scoring with 17.9 points a game and third in rebounding with 9.1 boards a contest, while Jones is third in scoring with 16.6 points an outing and seventh in rebounding with 8.3 boards per game.


• The Blue Raiders look to extend their winning-streak to five games on the road at FIU Saturday. MT matched its longest win-streak of the season with a 67-63 victory at Florida Atlantic Feb. 6. The team opened the 2013-14 campaign, winning four-straight at home from Nov. 10-Nov. 18.

• With a career-high 25 points at FAU, Shawn Jones has recorded 995 career-points, just shy of joining the 1,000-point club. With 559 career rebounds, he is looking to become just the 15th player in program history to amass 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. With 139 career blocks, he will be the third player in MT history to have 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks. His 25 points at FAU marks his seventh 20-point performance of the season and third-straight.

• Against the Owls, Jones shot 11-for-15 from the floor, marking the first time a Blue Raider has made 10 or more field goals since Kerry Hammonds II recorded 10 against Louisiana Jan. 18, 2013.

• Seniors Neiko Hunter and Hammonds also tallied double-figures at FAU, putting up 19 and 11 points, respectively. Hunter also collected six rebounds, while Hammonds dished out a game-best five assists.

• In the NCAA statistical rankings released Feb. 7, two MT seniors landed in the top 25 in two different categories. Jones ranks ninth in the NCAA and leads C-USA in field goal percentage, shooting 60.5-percent from the floor, while point guard Tweety Knight is 20th in the nation and second in the league in total steals, swiping 50. Knight is 28th in the country and third in C-USA in steals per game with 2.17.

• Six 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), Akron (Mid-American) and Southern (SWAC).

• 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.

• Jones, collected his eighth double-double of the season against ODU and ranks sixth in C-USA and 43rd in the NCAA statistical rankings. He posted 20 points and 10 rebounds. Hammonds 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.

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