MT seeks regular season title at UAB Thursday
Raiders closeout C-USA play on the roadMarch 5, 2014 · @MTAthletics
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee men's basketball team (22-8, 12-3 C-USA) heads to UAB (18-11, 7-8 C-USA) Thursday for a high-stakes matchup to close out regular season play as the Blue Raiders eye a share of the regular season Conference USA title and a top-four seed in the conference tournament.
Date: Thursday, March 6
Tip-Off: 7 p.m. CT
Teams: Middle Tennessee at UAB
Location: Birmingham, Ala.
Arena: Bartow Arena (8,500)
Television: Web stream
Radio: WGNS (100.5 FM, 101.9 FM, 1450 AM) / WMOT (89.5 FM) / The Game (102.5 FM, 97.5 FM)
Play-by-Play: Chip Walters
Color Analyst: Kyle Turnham
Live Audio | Live Stats | Live Video
This will be the eighth meeting between Middle Tennessee and UAB. The Blazers lead the all-time series 5-2, including a 2-0 mark at home. Earlier this season, MT claimed an 89-84 overtime victory at home over UAB to open C-USA play Jan. 11.
In the last contest, four Blue Raiders scored double-figures, while five Blazers posted double-digits. Shawn Jones led MT with 22 points and a game-high nine rebounds, while Reggie Upshaw, Jr., also had nine boards to go along with 15 points. Kerry Hammonds II and Neiko Hunter posted 17 and 12 points, respectively for the Raiders. Chad Frazier paced UAB with a game-best 28 points, while C.J. Washington had 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Rod Rucker, Robert Williams and Tosin Mehinti all recorded 10 points each for the Blazers.
The Blazers are 18-11 overall and are currently in seventh place in the Conference USA standings with a 7-8 record in league play. UAB is 12-4 at home this season and 3-4 in C-USA games, while MT is 7-5 on the road this season and 5-2 in conference play. The Blazers had a three-game winning streak snapped March 2, dropping a 67-58 loss at home to LA Tech.
In the team's last outing against the Bulldogs, the Blazers were led by a pair of double-doubles. Fahro Alihodzic led the team with 13 points, while pulling down 10 rebounds. Rucker put up 12 points and snagged a game-best 10 boards, while Frazier added 10 points.
On the season, three UAB players are averaging double-digits as Frazier leads the way with 17.7 points per game and ranks third in the league. Washington is second on the team with 13.0 points an outing, while Rucker is averaging 10.8 points a contest. Rucker leads the team on the boards, grabbing 7.0 rebounds per game, while Washington is a close second, pulling down 6.9 a contest.
BLUE RAIDER BULLETS
• Middle Tennessee looks for a share of the C-USA regular season title with a win at UAB Thursday. The Blazers are 12-4 at home this season and 3-4 in conference play at home, while MT is 7-5 on the road and 5-2 in league road games.
• The Blue Raiders returned to their winning ways, defeating Rice 65-41 March 1 for Senior Day. All seven seniors landed in the scoring column by the end of the game.
• Against the Owls, the Raiders were led by a trio of seniors with double-figures as Shawn Jones led the way with 15 points. Kerry Hammonds II tallied 14 points, going 7-for-8 from the line. Neiko Hunter posted 12 points to go along with a team-high seven rebounds.
• MT improved to 12-3 in C-USA play with the win over Rice Saturday to remain atop of the conference standings. The Raiders are currently in a four-way tie for first-place alongside Southern Miss, LA Tech and Tulsa. All four teams will close out regular season conference play on the road Thursday.
• With the 24-point victory against the Owls Saturday, MT moved to 14-2 at home this season. The Raiders are 45-4 inside the Murphy Center over the last three seasons and 25-1 in home conference games.
• Conference USA men's basketball is currently in the closest league race in all of Division-I. C-USA is the only D-I league with five teams within one game of each other in the conference standings. This is the closest C-USA regular-season race in 10 years. In 2003-04, five teams tied for first for the C-USA regular season title.
• The Raiders slipped one spot to 67 in the NCAA RPI rankings released March 3. Three other C-USA teams rank in the top 100: Southern Miss (40), LA Tech (65) and UTEP (100). Tulsa narrowly missed the top 100 at 101.
• Middle Tennessee ranks second in the country with a 45-6 record in conference games over the last three seasons, just behind Davidson (48-4). The Blue Raiders are 20-5 over the last three seasons in conference road games to be tied for sixth in the nation with a winning percentage of .800.
• Five of MT's nonconference opponents from this season are currently leading or tied for first-place in their respective conferences - No. 11/12 Cincinnati (American), No. 1/1 Florida (SEC), Murray State and Belmont (OVC) and Southern (SWAC).
• MT was projected as a 12-seed in the USA Today NCAA tournament Bracketology released Feb. 24. The Raiders were a 14-seed in ESPN Bracketology by Joe Lunardi as of Feb. 24.
• After wins at Charlotte and Marshall, four Blue Raider seniors (Kerry Hammonds II, Shawn Jones, Zane Gibson and Torin Walker) have had a hand in becoming the winningest class in program history with 93 wins over the last four years. Last year's seniors posted a 90-43 record over their four years.
• The Blue Raiders dropped a 55-39 decision on the road at LA Tech Feb. 27, snapping a nine game winning streak. The win-streak was the longest for MT this season. The 39 points marked a season-low for the Raiders this season; MT recorded 48 points at Cincinnati Dec. 21.
• With a 22-point victory at Charlotte Feb. 20, MT recorded its 20th win of the season, marking the Raiders' third-straight 20-win season. The last time MT recorded three-straight 20-win seasons was 1986-89 (1986-87, 1987-88, 1988-89).
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
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