The start of the 2014-2015 season for the Blue Raider men’s basketball team was a bit sluggish out of the gate, but has slowly changed course over the duration of the season.
Middle Tennessee started out its regular season with a strong showing at home, defeating Ohio Valley 77-60. Just four days later, however, in a highly touted home game against non-conference rival Murray State, the Blue Raiders would suffer a 68-49 loss following a dominating effort by the Racers.
The Blue Raiders would follow the two openers up by taking part in the Emerald Coast Classic. Their first two games in the tourney were home games, both wins, against Southern University and Northern Arizona. The Blue Raiders faced Cincinnati in the tournament semi-finals, falling 69-51 after a strong second half. Following Cincinnati, Middle Tennessee played Creighton, but continued to struggle in the first half and lost 32-21.
The Blue Raiders sat at that point of the season at 3-3, with tough contests against Belmont and Oklahoma State waiting for them over the next two weeks. The Blue Raiders continued playing strongly in the second half after struggling through the opening frame. Against Belmont, they would fall behind at halftime only to rebound in the second half, but still fell short with a final score of 63-59.
The Blue Raiders would recover and fight off a feisty South Alabama team in overtime 68-67, and earn an impressive win against Akron on the road. Middle Tennessee would wrap up their winter road trip with a trip to Stillwater, Oklahoma to take on a ranked Oklahoma State team, but fell 68-44 to the Cowboys.
Though the first weeks of the season were full of ups and downs, the Blue Raiders would rebound to win two straight home games against non-conference opponents Chattanooga and Tennessee State. However, the Blue Raiders would fail to capitalize against SEC opponent Auburn 64-48.
With a new year came a round of conference match-ups for the Blue Raiders. Though the conference games started slow, with a 54-49 loss to University of Alabama-Birmingham, Middle Tennessee bounced back to win three consecutive conference games against Florida International, Florida Atlantic and Souther Mississippi.
Late last week, the Blue Raiders suffered their next loss against Louisiana Tech. The 75-68 loss put the Blue Raiders at 10-8 overall and 3-2 in Conference-USA.
The Blue Raiders currently sit at sixth in the conference with their 3-2 record in CUSA. They sit behind league leading Louisiana Tech and also WKU, Old Dominion, UTEP, and UAB.
Statistically for the Blue Raiders at the halfway mark, Reggie Upshaw is leading the charge in his sophomore campaign. The forward is averaging 9.7 points per game along with an average of six rebounds per game. Senior Jacquez Rozier is having a strong year offensively as well, averaging 8.5 points per game and five rebounds per game. Rozier is also top of the team in shooting percentage, and is at a solid 51.5 percent from the field in 18 games this season.
Freshman Giddy Potts has been a nice addition to the roster and has started in nine of the Blue Raiders 18 games so far this season. Potts is averaging 4.7 points per game and is shooting 89 percent from the free-throw line to date on 17 of 19 shooting. Transfers Darnell Harris and Perrin Buford are following suit, with Harris averaging around six points per game and three rebounds. Buford is averaging 5.4 points per game.
The Blue Raiders have struggled to find consistency so far this season. The team has had bright spots and good wins, but only time will tell if the conference schedule will be good to Coach Kermit Davis and his squad.
The Blue Raiders host Old Dominion on Thursday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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To contact sports editor Connor Grott, email firstname.lastname@example.org