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Murphy Center set for top-tier matchup Saturday

Raiders look for seventh-straight win against Southern Miss

February 14, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Two of the top teams in Conference USA are set to duke it out Saturday inside the Murphy Center as the Middle Tennessee men's basketball team (18-7, 8-2 C-USA) hosts Southern Miss (21-4, 8-2 C-USA) for a 1 p.m. tip-off on CSS as the Blue Raiders and Golden Eagles are in four-way tie to first in the league standings.

GAME INFORMATION

Date: Saturday, Feb. 15
Tip-Off: 1 p.m. CT
Teams: Southern Miss at Middle Tennessee
Location: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Arena: Murphy Center (11,520)
Television: CSS
Play-by-Play: George Plaster
Color Analyst: Brian Oliver
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 Audio | Live Stats | Live Video

VIDEO
Men's Basketball vs. Southern Miss
THE SERIES

This will be the third meeting between Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss, but the first match up in 55 years. The series is tied 1-1 with the Golden Eagles winning the last meeting 80-60 Jan. 26, 1959. The Blue Raiders claimed a 6864 victory Dec. 11, 1958 in Murfreesboro.

SCOUTING SOUTHERN MISS

PHOTOS
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The Golden Eagles are 21-4 overall and 8-2 in C-USA play. Southern Miss' seven-game winning streak came to an end Feb. 13, dropping an 84-60 decision on the road at UAB. The Golden Eagles' only other C-USA loss this season has come at the hands of Tulsa Jan. 12 via a 75-71 decision.

In the team's last outing against the Blazers, Southern Miss had just two players reach double-figures as Michael Craig led the way with 14 points, while Jeremiah Eason tallied 12. Daveon Boardingham led the team on the boards, pulling down eight rebounds to go along with eight points.

On the season, three Southern Miss players are averaging double-figures in scoring as Craig and Neil Watson pace the team with 11.6 points each per game. Boardingham is next on the squad, putting up 10.6 points a contest. Jerrold Brooks and Aaron Brown are close behind, recording 9.6 and 9.0 points an outing. Craig also leads the Golden Eagles on the boards, collecting 7.8 rebounds a game.

Southern Miss and Middle Tennessee are currently in a four-way tie for first in the C-USA standings with an 8-2 record in league play. In the conference statistical rankings, the Golden Eagles rank second in scoring margin at +10.3, while the Blue Raiders are third with an +8.5 mark. The teams also sit second and third in rebounding margin as USM is +7.3 and MT is +5.5. Southern Miss is second in C-USA in field goal percentage, shooting 46.4-percent from the floor, while Middle Tennessee is fourth with a 45.8-field goal percentage.

BLUE RAIDER BULLETS

• The Blue Raiders look to extend their winning-streak to seven games at home Saturday against Southern Miss. MT is currently enjoying its longest winning-streak of the season, after opening the 2013-14 campaign with four-straight home wins.

• Middle Tennessee picked up its sixth-straight win Feb. 13, rolling over Tulane 71-44 as MT moved to 12-2 at home this season. The Raiders are 43-4 inside the Murphy Center over the last three seasons and 23-1 in home conference games. MT is 14-3 this season when playing in the state of Tennessee, including a 1-1 record in neutral site games.

Shawn Jones collected his ninth double-double of the season against the Green Wave and ranks third in C-USA and 32nd in the NCAA statistical rankings. He posted 17 points and 10 rebounds, going 9-for-10 from the line.

Kerry Hammonds II led the team against Tulane, putting up 18 points, while netting four three-pointers.

• In the NCAA statistical rankings released Feb. 14, two MT seniors landed in the top 25 in two different categories. Jones ranks 18th in the NCAA and leads C-USA in field goal percentage, shooting 58.7-percent from the floor, while point guard Tweety Knight is 20th in the nation and second in the league in total steals, swiping 53. Knight is 34th in the country and third in C-USA in steals per game with 2.12.

• 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).

• Four C-USA teams rank in the top 100 of the NCAA RPI released Feb. 10 - Southern Miss (34), Louisiana Tech (72), UTEP (77), MT (90).

• MT ranks third in the nation over the last three seasons (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14) with a 41-5 record in conference games, just behind Davidson (43-4) and Gonzaga (41-4). MT is tied for fifth over the last three seasons in conference road wins with Stephen F. Austin at 18-4, behind Norfolk State (19-2), Memphis (19-2), Davison (20-3) and Akron (18-3).

• The seven Blue Raider seniors are looking to become the winningest class in program history. Last year's seniors posted a 90-43 record. With 89 wins, this year's class is just two victories away from passing that mark.

• MT picked up a 70-68 victory at FIU Feb. 8 as seniors Neiko Hunter and Jones led the team with career performances. Hunter recorded a career-high 25 points, going 11-for-16 from the floor, while pulling down a career-best nine rebounds against the Panthers.

• Jones notched his 1,000th career-point off of a dunk with 10:24 to go in the first half at FIU. With 1,035 career-points, 578 career-rebounds and 148 career-blocks, he is just the third player in program history to amass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks. He is the 16th Blue Raider to post 1,000 points and 500 rebounds and is the 31st member of the Middle Tennessee 1,000 point club.

• At FIU, Jones went on to post 23 points and nine rebounds, going 9-for-10 from the line. This marked his eighth 20-point performance of the season and fourth-straight.

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