Story By Jim Bratton // Staff Writer, Caleb Luketic // Assistant Sports Editor
Photo by Meagan White // Staff Photographer
The Blue Raiders (16-6, 8-2 C-USA) followed up their huge road win over Western Kentucky with a 85-73 win over Florida Atlantic (6-17, 4-6 C-USA) on Thursday night.
“We kind of kept them at bay. It was one of those games you kinda thought we were gonna run it out. I give FAU credit,” head coach Kermit Davis said.
The Blue Raiders began the night on a 12-7 run, after a deep three-point shot from big man Darnell Harris. Harris, one of the four Blue Raiders that put up double-figures, finished with 12 points. The Blue Raiders as a team shot 44% from the field in the first half, with Reggie Upshaw leading the team with 19 points.
“I bet he hasn’t scored that many points since he scored 20 points in our building last year,” FAU head coach Michael Curry said about Raymond.
Jaqawn Raymond had his best game of the season, dropping 15 points and collecting three steals. Raymond hit two momentum-changing three-pointers in the game, after Middle Tennessee struggled to connect from the field. Raymond played tenacious defense, forcing multiple turnovers to go along with his three steals.
“It was so good to see him [Raymond] play. We’ve seen him shoot balls like that, and it came in a timely fashion, too. We needed ‘em when he made ‘em,” Davis said.
Perrin Buford also had a good night on the offensive end, finishing 6-for-11 from the field and connected on both of his trips to the free throw line. Buford dominated on the defensive end, moving into the top 10 in blocks with 49 in MTSU basketball history.
Middle Tennessee played some of the best defense they have played all season long, forcing 15 turnovers from an Owls team that averages 11.8 turnovers per game.
“Our defense is what we stand by. I thought early in the game our defensive pressure was outstanding. With a good defensive team, you’ll be a good rebounding team, which we are.”
The Blue Raiders also blocked seven shots, double that of their 3.5 blocks per game season average.
On the other end of the court, it was a rough night for the Owls of Florida Atlantic. Ronald Delph led the team in scoring with 18 points, while collecting 10 total rebounds. As a team, the Owls finished 42.9% from the field and 41.2% from three-point range.
The win tonight keeps the Blue Raiders in the second spot in the Conference-USA standings behind the UAB Blazers (19-4, 9-1 C-USA), who pulled out a 74-69 win over Florida International (11-12, 5-5 C-USA). The Blue Raiders will take the court against the Golden Panthers at the Murphy Center on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
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