Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
After a runaway 102-64 win over Milligan College, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders return to action Tuesday to face the Murray State Racers in a matchup of two former Ohio Valley Conference rivals.
Murray State has dominated the overall series, leading 103-35 all-time. In the last 30 matchups at the Murphy Center, the Blue Raiders hold a slim edge at 16-14.
Even with the edge, the Racers have had MTSU’s number the last two years, winning the last game in Murfreesboro 68-49. Murray State’s defense was the story in that game, as they held the Raiders to 18 percent shooting. MT also struggled from the perimeter, making only one of their 22 three-point attempts.
Last season’s game was much closer, but the result stayed the same with Murray State taking a 76-65 victory. While MTSU shot much better in this game, they still couldn’t break 40 percent from the floor (39.6).
Head coach Kermit Davis thought that his team played well against Milligan but understands that they will have to step it up against better competition.
“We’ve won a lot of games around here, but Murray State has had their way with us,” said Davis. “This is a proud program, they’re going to be good. They’ll be right in the middle of that Ohio Valley championship race.”
The players also understand that even with their dominant win on Friday, they will have to clean up the mistakes on the defensive end to be successful.
“[We have to] just follow the gameplan, and that’s pretty much it,” Guard Antwain Johnson said.
Senior Reggie Upshaw has played in each of the last two games against the Racers and realizes they have to do the little things right if they want to beat Murray State on his third try.
“We have to play physical first … we have to crash the boards,” Upshaw said, “Any time you have a team who thrives in the paint, getting into the paint and making open shots that way, it’s hard to guard but we will do a great job trying to key on them.”
The game will take place in the Murphy Center Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
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