Blue Raiders run FAU out of the gym on Senior Night


Antwain Johnson on a fast break slam dunk during a game against FAU on Saturday, March 4, 2017. (MTSU Sidelines/Darwin Moore)

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

Giddy Potts hangs in the air for a basket against FAU on Saturday, March 4, 2017. (Darwin Moore/MTSU Sidelines)

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

JaCorey Williams goes up for a shot against FAU on Saturday, March 4, 2017. (Darwin Moore/MTSU Sidelines)

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.

Giddy Potts goes up for the score against FAU on Saturday, March 4, 2017. (Darwin Moore/MTSU Sidelines)

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.

“When you can have the game like that in front of that kind of crowd and have Reggie kiss the MT Sidelines , 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.”

Box score

What’s next?

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.

Follow MTSU Men’s Basketball beat writers Tyler Lamb (@Tlamb35) and Rusty Ellis (@RustyEllis13) on Twitter for more coverage.

For more sports stories, follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter and Periscope at @Sidelines_Sport.

To contact Sports Editor Tyler Lamb (@Tlamb35), email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

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