Blue Raiders eye 20th win on Wednesday at FIU
Tip-off set for 5 p.m. CT in MiamiFebruary 11, 2014 · @MTAthletics
Middle Tennessee women's basketball (19-4, 8-1 Conference USA) returns to Florida for the fourth time this season. The Blue Raiders open the two-game road swing at FIU (11-11, 5-4 C-USA) on Wednesday in a 5 p.m. CT matchup in Miami.
Matchup: Middle Tennessee at FIU
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014
Time: 5:00 p.m. CT
Location: Miami, Fla.
Arena: U.S. Century Bank Arena (5,000)
Overall: MT leads series, 19-9
Under Rick Insell: MT leads, 14-4
In Miami: FIU leads, 7-6
Last Meeting: MT 68, FIU 59 - 3/10/13 - Hot Springs, Ark.
• Middle Tennessee (19-4, 8-1 C-USA) visits a familiar foe in FIU (11-11, 5-4 C-USA) on Wednesday. MT is coming of a 65-54 win over Rice during the program's annual Play 4Kay Power of Pink game.
• Senior Laken Leonard led the Raiders with 13 points, while All-America candidate Ebony Rowe chipped in 12 points and 12 rebounds. Rowe is third nationally with 19 double-doubles this season. Meanwhile, Leonard is averaging 9.2 ppg in her last five games.
• The Raiders and FIU meet for the 29th time on Wednesday with MT holding a 19-9 edge.
• A win on Wednesday would give Middle Tennessee its 11th consecutive 20-win season and the ninth under Rick Insell. It would also mark the 22nd time in 39 seasons that the Blue Raider program has achieved that mark.
• For the fourth time this season, the Raiders visit the Sunshine State. MT holds 6-0 record in Florida with wins at Miami, UCF and USF coupled with a tournament victory at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Naples.
What Happened against Rice
• No. 21/25 Middle Tennessee built up a 21-point lead and defeated Rice 65-54 for the program's 19th consecutive victory. Laken Leonard led the team with 13 points, while Ebony Rowe earned her 19th double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Caroline Warden added 10 points in the victory.
Raising Goals for Play 4Kay
• MT drew a crowd of 4,209 for the annual Play 4Kay Power of Pink game against Rice on Feb. 8. The Raiders raised nearly $11,000 in jersey auction sells and online donations. All of those proceeds will benefit the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and the Saint Thomas Rutherford Power of Pink.
Series with the Panthers
• Middle Tennessee and old Sun Belt foe FIU meet for the 29th time on Wednesday. The Raiders hold a distinct 19-9 edge in the series.
• The Raiders have won six out of the last seven meetings with its only loss coming on Dec. 21, 2012 in Murfreesboro, 58-51.
• MT last played FIU in the Sun Belt Championship semfinals, where the Raiders came out victorious 68-59. Rick Insell is 14-4 all-time against FIU.
• The Raiders are visiting Florida for the fourth time this season. MT is 6-0 in the Sunshine State. The Raiders have road wins at Miami, UCF and USF. Additionally, MT won three consecutive games to claim the Gulf Coast Showcase.
• The Panthers (11-11, 5-4 Conference USA) have won three out of their last four games. That three-game win streak was snapped with an 83-62 loss at UTEP on Saturday. FIU is averaging 68.5 points per game and shooting 38.9 percent (532-of-1368). The Panthers are the nation's 16th best and league leader with a 76.4 free throw percentage (344-of-450). All-America candidate Jerrica Coley ranks second nationally behind Baylor's Odyssey Sims with 28.9 points per game. Tynia McKinzie is FIU's top rebounder with 7.2 boards per game. FIU opponents are averaging 67.2 percent, while shooting 41.7 percent (539-of-1293) from the field.
A Tradition of 20
• In 39 seasons, Middle Tennessee is on the verge of recording its 22nd 20-plus win season. With a win on Wednesday, the Raiders will have recorded 11 consecutive 20-win seasons, including nine straight under the watch of Rick Insell.
Who's Stepping Up?
• During the last five games, the Blue Raiders have seen different players average 5.4 points or more. Ebony Rowe leads the way with 19 points a contest, while senior guard Laken Leonard is boasting 9.2 points per game. KeKe Stewart (7.6 ppg), China Dow (5.8 ppg), Olivia Jones (5.8 ppg), Shanice Cason (5.4 ppg) and Caroline Warden (5.4 ppg) are all major contributing factors.
• With her 13 point game against Rice, Leonard has a career-high five double-figure games this season. Leonard's Jackson County classmate Warden also set a new career-high for double-digit games in a season to three with her 10-point performance against the Owls.
Raiders in the Polls
• MT earned 32 votes in this week's AP poll (26th), while garnering 18 votes in the Coaches poll (28th).
• Middle Tennessee reached No. 21 in the Associated Press poll released on Feb. 3 and reached the USA Today Coaches poll for the first time this season at No. 25 on Feb. 4.
• The AP ranking was the highest for MT since ranking 17th in the final 2007 poll.
• The Blue Raiders are in both polls for the first time since 2007.
In the Rankings
• Middle Tennessee's Ebony Rowe ranks 24th nationally with 21.3 points per game and 10th with 11.8 rebounds per game.
• Rowe's 19 double-doubles ranks third nationally.
• Rowe leads the league with 4.61 offensive rebounds per game. She is second in scoring, rebounding and minutes played.
• Olivia Jones' 2.48 steals per game is third in C-USA and 40th in the NCAA.
Raiders' RPI Rating
• Middle Tennessee has an RPI rating of 28 in the latest NCAA report. Other top-100 C-USA teams include Southern Miss (50), UTEP (51), East Carolina (62) and Tulane (90).
• C-USA's RPI is 10th out 32 leagues.
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
More Women's Basketball NewsApr 16, 2014: Insell announces return of Tom Hodges as assistant coach
Apr 10, 2014: Rowe named TSHF Female Amateur Athlete of the Year
Apr 9, 2014: Laken Leonard earns C-USA Spirit of Service Award
Apr 5, 2014: Rowe named WBCA All-America Honorable Mention
Apr 3, 2014: Raiders featured in Women's Final Four festivities
Apr 2, 2014: Rowe tabbed AP All-America Honorable Mention