Photo by Darian Lindsay // Staff Photographer
Middle Tennessee (13-5, 5-1 C-USA) welcomed the University of North Texas (7-12 2-4 C-USA) to Murphy Center as the Blue Raiders continued their conference schedule on Thursday night.
Coming into this game, the Blue Raiders were riding a four-game win streak and were hoping to make it five. At first, MT played sloppy, making simple fundamental mistakes, but they were able to catch fire offensively in the second half.
The Blue Raiders stalled out of the gates, but their offense was ignited by a Giddy Potts three pointer. From that point on both teams traded points back and forth in transition and on fast breaks. During the first nine minutes, both teams combined for a total 13 turnovers, which led to numerous fast break opportunities for both squads.
The North Texas Mean Green played an aggressive brand of basketball, attempting to set the tone on the defensive end of the court. The Blue Raiders began to feed the ball into the post and attacked the paint. MT began to pull away, but North Texas surged offensively, cutting their halftime deficit to only two, thanks to a half-court buzzer beater.
The Mean Green immediately tied the game in the opening seconds of the second half, but Giddy Potts hit a three pointer with a defender in his face and mouthed, “That one was for you,” while wagging his finger toward the North Texas defender. Despite being fouled for his actions, it led to an offensive run by the Blue Raiders, which extended their led by eleven.
From that point on, it was the Blue Raiders’ game to lose. The Mean Green struggled to get there offense back on pace, and their defense couldn’t slow down Middle Tennessee. It wasn’t just Potts that gave the Blue Raiders their boost, as their bench out scored North Texas 30 to six.
Perrin Buford finished with a career night, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 boards, en rout to his first career double-double. Reggie Upshaw also recorded a double-double, dropping 15 points and corralling 10 boards, which marks the first time this season two MT players have recorded a double-double.
The Blue Raiders will continue their conference schedule on Saturday night against Rice (6-12, 1-4 C-USA) at the Glass House at 5 p.m., as the team looks to extend their winning streak to six games.
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