Photo by Darwin Moore / MTSU Sidelines
Video by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
Middle Tennessee (27-4, 17-1 C-USA) dominated the second half behind the play of Giddy Potts and a trio of high scoring seniors en route to a 93-59 win over Florida Atlantic University (10-19, 6-12 C-USA).
Raiders start slow once again
After starting the game down 20-1 against Florida International on Thursday night, fans inside Murphy Center saw another slow start on Senior Night.
Despite the electric energy in the air, FAU was the team that jumped out early. Led by Jailyn Ingram, the Owls got out to an 11-5 lead and seemed to be the ones in control of the game. The Owls got up 17-10 before MTSU senior JaCorey Williams and three-point specialist Giddy Potts exploded in the scoring column.
The two led MTSU on a 22-4 run to making it 34-21 with 4:44 left in the half.
Owls come back to make it a game
FAU kept their composure from start to finish Saturday night and no other point in the game showed it more than after MTSU’s big run in the first half. The team didn’t bow out, but instead gave MTSU a game again.
The Owls would go on their own 9-4 run that included a Kermit Davis technical foul at the 2:36 mark in the first half that allowed FAU to gain more momentum. FAU would hold the Raiders on the ensuing possession and close the gap once more, making it 38-32 on an Ingram jumper.
Potts sunk a basket at the buzzer and the Blue Raiders went into halftime up by eight, 44-36.
Blue Raiders put on more steam
Coming out of halftime, it was all MTSU. From Williams and Dixon all the way to Antwain Johnson and Brandon Walters, it seemed as though every Blue Raider was on their game in the final 20 minutes.
After pulling to within four, the Blue Raiders outscored the Owls 49-23 in the second half.
Out of all the Blue Raiders, it was the Potts who shined the brightest. The Athens, AL native scored 16 of his career-high 30 points in half number two. All-in-all, Potts shot from 12-of-18 (67%) the field and 3-0f-3 from deep.
The fact that Potts scored that many on just three connections from deep was something that caught Kermit Davis’ eye.
“Team’s are out on top of him and he drove it straight down hill,” said Davis. “For him to score 30 and only make three three’s, that’s different. Usually when you see 30, you think ‘oh Giddy must have hit eight threes.’ He drove the ball and he finished athletic.
“That’s a good frame of mind for him entering postseason.”
MTSU’s bench play was also a factor as the Blue Raiders outscored FAU 47-16 in that category.
Seniors go out the right way
Honored pre-game to the roar of 8,806 strong, seniors Reggie Upshaw, JaCorey Williams, Xavier Habersham and Aldonis Foote certainly showed out in their Murphy Center finale.
Upshaw, while not tallying a point until 1:36 left in the first half, finished the night with 11 points, 10 rebounds and the sound of thousands chanting his name.
— Tyler Lamb (@Tlamb35) March 5, 2017
“When you can have the game like that in front of that kind of crowd and have Reggie kiss the MT , I mean he did that totally on his own that’s how much this place means to him,” said Davis. “JaCorey Williams, just in a short period of time what it means, and then Aldonis. It was great seeing Aldonis score some buckets at the end at home. And then X.
I don’t know if I’ve ever had a senior group go out any better in a game that we needed for at-large and RPI. And announced a school record for regular season wins (27). A lot of things we on the line, not just senior night.”
Tonight’s final stats: pic.twitter.com/w43vqJZBKf
— Tyler Lamb (@Tlamb35) March 5, 2017
Middle Tennessee will get a much needed rest before traveling to Birmingham for the C-USA Championships next week. The Blue Raiders’ first game will be Thursday morning at 11:30 a.m. against the winner of Western Kentucky vs. UTSA.