Middle Tennessee (18-9, 10-5 C-USA) battled, but, ultimately, was physically outplayed by Western Kentucky (14-14, 6-9 C-USA), losing 78-72. This was the Blue Raiders’ second straight conference loss, as they fell to UAB at home earlier this week.
The score is not an adequate representation of how much Middle Tennessee struggled throughout the game in the paint, as they allowed 40 points in the paint and were out rebounded 40-29.
“Their team played with toughness,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “They beat us on the boards 40 to 29. Shot over 50 percent. Got us on 50/50 balls…Good win for Western.”
The defense struggled all over the floor. Middle Tennessee allowed Western Kentucky to shoot a blistering 53 percent from three and 51 percent overall from the field.
With Jacob Ivory’s absence, Giddy Potts posted his second double-double of his career. The sophomore guard had both a team-high 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Davis noted Ivory’s injury and how much it hurts this roster. He said Giddy is going to have to run point more often, which is something he hasn’t had to do all season long.
Senior Perrin Buford chipped in 11 points including a monstrous put-back dunk late in the fourth quarter, which gave the Blue Raiders a monstrous amount of momentum, but the team was unable to capitalize.
Junior forward Reggie Upshaw scored 17 points but struggled mightily from the free throw line going 4-for-11.
“You go in thinking every shot is going to go in…They weren’t bad misses or anything, they were all right there. They just didn’t fall,” Upshaw said about his free throw shooting.
Davis noted Upshaw’s struggles from the charity stripe, and said he is going to have to get out of this funk he is in.
“Reggie’s really struggling….Reggie’s at the line all the time and right now he’s struggling. He’s doing a good job getting there but we’re just leaving a lot of points there,” Davis said.
Middle Tennessee will look to rebound against Marshall (15-12, 11-3 C-USA) at the Murphy Center on Feb. 27. The last time these teams met, the Blue Raiders lost 66-82. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.
To contact Sports Editor Connor Grott, email firstname.lastname@example.org.