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Raiders face No. 6-seed Monarchs in C-USA Quarterfinal

No. 3-seed MT opens C-USA Tourney Thursday

March 12, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - After receiving a double-bye, the No. 3-seed Middle Tennessee men's basketball team (23-8, 13-3 C-USA) will open the Conference USA Championship Thursday, taking on No. 6-seed Old Dominion (16-16, 9-7 C-USA) in the quarterfinal round at 3:30 p.m. CT.

GAME INFORMATION

Date: Thursday, March 13
Tip-Off: 3:30 p.m. CT
Teams: No. 3-seed Middle Tennessee vs. No. xx-seed
Location: El Paso, Texas
Arena: Don Haskins Center (12,000)
Television: Web stream (C-USA Digital Network)
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

VIDEO
Men's Basketball vs. ODU
Live Audio | Live Stats | Live Video

THE SERIES

This will be the third meeting between Middle Tennessee and Old Dominion. The Blue Raiders lead the all-time series 2-0. Earlier this season, MT claimed a 64-48 victory Feb. 1 at home over ODU as part of the Raiders' season-best nine-game winning streak.

In the last contest, the Blue Raiders were led by a double-double from C-USA Player of the Year Shawn Jones. Jones put up a game-high 20 points and pulled down a game-best 10 rebounds, going 9-for-11 from the floor. Senior Kerry Hammonds II was second on the team, recording 14 points and going 5-for-8 from the line and 3-for-5 from behind the arc.

PHOTOS
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The Monarchs were led by a trio of players reaching double-figures as Dimitri Batten led the way with 14 points. Aaron Bacote added 13 points, while Richard Ross tallied 11 points. Denzell Taylor led ODU on the boards, snagging eight rebounds.

SCOUTING OLD DOMINION

The Monarchs are 16-16 overall and 9-7 in C-USA play. No. 6-seed Old Dominion defeated No. 14-seed Marshall 73-58 in the second round of the C-USA Championship Wednesday afternoon. Bacote led ODU with a game-high 25 points, going 13-for-18 from the line, while collecting a team-best eight rebounds. Batten was second on the team, recording 13 points to go along with seven boards.

On the season, three ODU players are averaging double-digits as Bacote leads the way with 16.3 points per game. Batten is second on the team with 10.8 points an outing, while Keenan Palmore is averaging 10.1 points a contest. Ross leads the team on the boards, grabbing 7.2 rebounds per game, while putting up 9.5 points a contest.

BLUE RAIDER BULLETS

• With a 55-53 victory at UAB March 6, Middle Tennessee won a share of the regular season Conference USA title, marking its third-straight regular season conference crown and fourth in the last five seasons. MT secured a double-bye in the C-USA Championship in El Paso, Texas at the No. 3-seed.

• This marks the fifth-straight year MT has earned a first-round bye in a conference tournament.

• Middle Tennessee is the only school in the country this year to have both its men's and women's programs win a regular season league title in the athletic department's first year in a new conference.

• The No. 3-seeded Raiders shared the 2013-14 C-USA men's basketball regular season crown with No. 1-seed LA Tech, No. 2-seed Tulsa and No. 4-seed Southern Miss. This is the third time in the league's 19-year history that multiple teams have tied for the regular season championship. In each of the previous two instances (2004 and 2001) the No. 3-seed has gone on to win the C-USA Tournament title.

• MT is 16-17 in quarterfinal rounds and 9-16 in semifinal rounds as members of the OVC and Sun Belt Conference. Middle Tennessee holds a 5-4 mark in conference championship games, including a 0-2 record in Sun Belt title games.

• Middle Tennessee is 36-37 all-time in conference tournaments. The Raiders won five league tournament titles and all were as members of the Ohio Valley Conference (1975, 1977, 1982, 1985 and 1989).

• Senior Shawn Jones was named Conference USA Player of the year and was an All-C-USA First Team selection, averaging 15.1 points per game and 8.1 rebounds a contest in league play. He ranks 19th in the country in field goal percentage in the NCAA statistical rankings released March 10, shooting 58.1-percent from the floor.

• Senior point guard Tweety Knight was named to the C-USA All-Defensive Team. He leads the Blue Raiders with 64 steals, ranking 30th in the nation and second in C-USA according to the NCAA statistical rankings released March 10. Knight is 32nd in the country and third in the conference, averaging 2.06 steals per game.

Shawn Jones earned this third C-USA Player of the Week honor this season March 7, after recording 16 points and 18 rebounds at UAB for his 10th double-double of the season.

• Knight scored the winning layup with four seconds to go in MT's 55-53 victory at UAB March 6, marking the Raiders' third win this season that came down to the final possession. Redshirt-sophomore Jaqawn Raymond hit the game-winning three-pointer at Marshall Feb. 22 and the winning layup at FIU Feb. 8.

• The Raiders jumped six spots over the last week to 61 in the NCAA RPI rankings released March 10. Three other C-USA teams rank in the top 100: Southern Miss (35), LA Tech (70) and Tulsa (94). UTEP narrowly missed the top 100 at 102.

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