MURFREESBORO – Sitting at .500 on the season, Kermit Davis’s Blue Raiders have put together an up-and-down season. At 13-13, Middle Tennessee has dropped five of their last six games. With five games left until conference tournament play begins, the Blue Raiders will look to tighten up in a few areas. Here is a look at their stock up, stock down.
- Reggie Upshaw – The sophomore forward has been on fire as of late. He leads the team in scoring with 10.3 points and rebounding with 6.6 boards per game. Upshaw has especially elevated his game since conference play has started. He’s averaging 11.5 points on 49 percent shooting, while also knocking down 80 percent of his free throws. The Chattanooga native has been a model of consistency since the conference slate began.
- Three-point shooting – In the last four games, the Blue Raiders are connecting on 35 percent of their triples. Much of it can be attributed to the sharpshooting of Giddy Potts and Marcus Tarrance. The duo have provided Middle Tennessee with an outside shooting presence for nearly all of conference play. The pair have hit 33 percent of their shots from beyond the arc since entering conference play.
- The Freshmen – Coach Davis has put a lot of faith into his young guards. Ed Simpson Jr., Potts, Jacob Ivory and JaQuel Richmond have combined to start 20 games since conference play started. Only one of the four averages more than four points per game, but the group contributes in more ways than just on the scoreboard. The group has perfected running Davis’s defense, making it a hassle for opposing wing players to shoot from outside. The four are certainly the future for the Blue Raiders.
- Jacquez Rozier – The senior came into the season as the only real veteran leader on the team. However, recently, his play has declined. The senior forward has failed to score in the past two games, and has only averaged 4.5 points over the last six games. The undersized post player has also struggled defensively against his larger C-USA competition. Rozier will have to step his game up with conference play nearing the end.
- Ball handling – Playing without a premiere ball handler has hurt Middle Tennessee several times this season. The Blue Raiders have turned the ball over 77 times in the last six games, compared to only 61 assists. Richmond is likely the point guard of the future, but he needs more time to learn Coach Davis’s system, as the freshman is responsible for 12 of the 77 turnovers.
- The Defense – To say the defense has been shaky the last few games would be an understatement. The Blue Raiders have managed to squander leads against North Texas and Rice over their past two games, losing within the final minute in each game. MT has also committed 17 or more fouls in four of their last five games. The team needs to tighten up on the defensive end with the conference tournament on the horizon.
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