Story by Jonathan Clark Jr.//Staff Writer | Photo by Brent Beerends // MT Athletics
It was a thriller in the Murphy Center Saturday afternoon as Middle Tennessee (10-5,2-1 C-USA) took on the University of Texas at San Antonio (3-14,1-3 C-USA) in a conference showdown that little thought would be this close. The Blue Raiders edged the Roadrunners 79-71 behind a great game from sophomore guard Giddy Potts.
Potts, who scored 26 points and grabbed 6 rebounds, was playing in his second game back for the Blue Raiders. Potts served a four-game suspension for academic issues but came out on fire in this contest.
“I just wanted to come out here and help my team get a win,” Potts said about his strong performance. “We’ve been struggling while I haven’t been playing so I just came out and set the edge like I got to play hard to get my team a win.”
Middle Tennessee went into halftime trailing in large part to the discrepancy in free throw numbers. UTSA went 19-20 from the line in the first half while Middle Tennessee went 6-11. Head Coach Kermit Davis had an interesting approach to the halftime adjustments.
“I didn’t say a word at halftime. I didn’t say a word. The only thing I said was you got some young men and women fixing to perform at halftime….. I got my mind on some other stuff,” Davis said about his halftime adjustments and referencing the halftime entertainment.
Potts also touched on the approach Coach Davis took into the locker room at halftime. “He didn’t [say anything]. We just had to pick up our energy. We came out flat in the first half that’s why they were up eight.”
Middle Tennessee struggled early on shooting the basketball in the first half against the 2-3 zone that the Roadrunners were playing with, but Darnell Harris sparked the team with two consecutive three-pointers to open the half. He also found space and knocked down a sweet turn-around jumper from the block.
“I noticed in the first half that they were switching on my ball screens so I noticed I had a mismatch and coach told me to start getting it going on the block,” Harris said about his adjustments. “So second half I just worked on the block and my teammates found me.”
The Roadrunners were held scoreless for the last four minutes of the game as the Blue Raiders pulled away late with clutch free throws down the stretch from point guard Jacob Ivory and forward Reggie Upshaw.
The Blue Raiders will have to look into their free throw struggles as they shot only 62.9% from the line. Those struggles were masked by the great pressure on the defensive end. The Blue Raiders caused 18 turnovers and picked up 11 steals in the win.
The Blue Raiders will continue conference play when they travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on the Charlotte 49ers (4-10,1-1 C-USA) on Jan. 14. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
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