Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (8-1) traveled to Mobile to take on the South Alabama Jaguars (6-2) Saturday night. Though they got off to a slow start, the Blue Raider offense came to life in the middle of the first half and stormed their way to a 67-55 victory, their fifth consecutive win on the road and sixth straight overall.
The Jaguars built a 7-2 lead in the first four minutes of the game. A steal by Xavier Habersham and a layup by JaCorey Williams started a 24-2 run by MTSU, giving them a 26-9 lead with just over six minutes left in the half. Sharpshooter Giddy Potts capped the run by making two consecutive threes.
South Alabama broke their seven-and-a-half minute drought with a basket and began to get their offense on track. Their defense couldn’t stop the Blue Raiders, however, as they would shoot 50 percent from the field on the night, making eight of their twenty three-point attempts.
MTSU also controlled the defensive end, holding South Alabama to 41.9 percent shooting, and out-rebounding the Jaguars 36-20. South Alabama won the turnover battle 17-16 however, recording 10 steals to the Blue Raiders’ nine. MT didn’t let these turnovers hurt them and went into the halftime break with a 31-24 lead.
Even with their struggles, South Alabama cut the lead to four early in the second half, but Ed Simpson and Potts made back-to-back threes to push the lead back to ten. South Alabama never got within more than eight points and the Blue Raiders sank all four of their free throws in the final minute to ice the win, 67-55
Williams led the way for the Blue Raiders with 16 points and tied Reggie Upshaw for the lead in rebounds with seven. Upshaw added 13 points of his own, making five of his ten shots. Potts ended the night with 13 points, four assists and five rebounds, making three of his seven three-point attempts.
With the win, the Blue Raiders are off their best nine-game start since 2011, the last time they started 8-1.
Middle Tennessee will have three days of practice before they welcome in-state rival Vanderbilt to the Murphy Center on Thursday; tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
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