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Raiders look for 20th win at Charlotte

MT eyes its eighth-straight victory on the road

February 19, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee men's basketball team (19-7, 9-2 C-USA) looks for its 20th win of the season on the road Thursday at Charlotte (14-10, 5-6 C-USA) in Conference USA action at the Raiders eye their eighth-straight victory.

GAME INFORMATION

Date: Thursday, Feb. 20
Tip-Off: 6 p.m. CT
Teams: Middle Tennessee at Charlotte
Location: Charlotte, N.C.
Arena: Halton Arena (9,105)
Television: Web stream (Charlotte49ers.com)
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. Charlotte
THE SERIES

This will be the second meeting between Middle Tennessee and Charlotte, but the first match up in 26 years. The 49ers claimed a 78-63 neutral site decision Dec. 18, 1987.

SCOUTING CHARLOTTE

The 49ers are 14-10 overall and are currently tied for eighth in the league standings with a 5-6 mark in C-USA play. Charlotte is on a three-game skid, dropping decisions on the road at Tulane and Southern Miss before falling at home to Marshall. The 49ers had success early in nonconference play, defeating Kansas State 68-61 and then-No. 13/14 Michigan 63-61 at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

In the team's last outing against the Herd, Charlotte had four players post double-figures as Shawn Lester led the way offensively with 16 points, while Terrence Williams tallied 14 points. Willie Clayton snagged a game-best 16 rebounds, while Pierria Henry dished out a game-high 10 assists to go along with nine boards.

On the season, four Charlotte players are averaging double-figures in scoring as Lester paces the team with 13.2 points per game. Henry and Clayton are next on the squad, putting up 11.9 and 11.5 points a contest, respectively. Williams rounds out the double-digit averages, tallying 10.5 points an outing, while Clayton leads the team on the boards with 9.2 rebounds a game.

BLUE RAIDER BULLETS

• The Blue Raiders extended their conference-best winning streak to seven games with a 27-point win over Tulane Feb. 13 and a 17-point victory against Southern Miss Feb. 15. MT's 81-64 win over Southern Miss came when the Golden Eagles were receiving votes in both the AP Top 25 Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll and were ranked 40th in the NCAA RPI to lead all C-USA teams.

• The Blue Raiders drained nine threes in the opening half against Southern Miss Feb. 15, tying a program record for treys in a half set at UT-Martin Jan. 31, 1998 and done again at FIU Jan. 5, 2002.

• Senior Kerry Hammonds II was named C-USA Player of the Week Feb. 17, after averaging 22.0 points per game, shooting 58.8-percent from three-point range. He connected on 10-of-17 threes for the week, including a 6-for-10 performance against Southern Miss. The six treys tied his career-best mark set against Louisiana Jan. 19, 2013. He led the Blue Raiders against Southern Miss with 26 points.

• With a 9-2 mark in Conference USA, Middle Tennessee is in a three-way tie atop of the league standings alongside Louisiana Tech and UTEP. LA Tech is currently receiving votes in the AP Top 25 Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll.

• The Raiders jumped 16 spots in the NCAA RPI to No. 74 after beating Tulane and Southern Miss. Three other C-USA teams rank in the 100 of the NCAA RPI released Feb. 17: Southern Miss (42), LA Tech (80) and UTEP (100).

• ESPN Bracketology by Joe Lunardi released Feb. 17 had the Blue Raiders as a No. 14 seed.

• Over the last three years, MT has a mark of 17-2 in the month of February and has won 12-straight, dating back to the 2011-12 season.

• MT is 13-2 at home this season. The Raiders are 44-4 inside the Murphy Center over the last three seasons and 24-1 in home conference games.

• Middle Tennessee ranks third in the nation over the last three seasons (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14) with a 42-5 record in conference games, just behind Davidson (44-4) and Gonzaga (42-4). MT is fifth in the country over the last three seasons in conference road wins with an 18-4 record (.818), behind Norfolk State (19-2), Davison (22-3), Memphis (19-3) and Stephen F. Austin (20-4).

• Six of MT's nonconference opponents from this season are currently leading or tied for first-place in their respective conferences - No. 7/9 Cincinnati (American), No. 2/2 Florida (SEC), Murray State and Belmont (OVC), Akron (Mid-American) and Southern (SWAC).

• With a 19-7 record this year, Middle Tennessee eyes its third-straight 20-win season. The last time MT recorded three-straight 20-win seasons was 1986-89 (1986-87, 1987-88, 1988-89).

• Seven Blue Raider seniors are looking to become the winningest class in program history. Last year's seniors posted a 90-43 record and with 90 wins this year's class is just one victory away from passing that mark.

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