Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
After a dominating regular season and a decisive victory over UTSA in the Conference USA quarterfinal, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (28-4) are another step closer to their goals to repeat as conference champions.
While they relied on their version of the “big three” in JaCorey Williams, Reggie Upshaw and Giddy Potts during the regular season, they know they will need all hands on deck during the month of March if they want to be successful.
They got a big contribution from junior guard Ed Simpson against the Roadrunners as he made three shots from long-range and scored 11 points for the Blue Raiders. After a tough stretch in February that saw Simpson average less than one point a game, it was a good sign to his teammates to see him step up when it was all on the line.
“It was great to see Ed shoot like that…we keep telling him to shoot the ball. That’s what got him to where he is,” Senior Reggie Upshaw said. “We just stay in his ear and give him that confidence. It showed today.”
Confidence has never been a problem for Simpson as even while he struggled, he continued to shoot the ball. For head coach Kermit Davis, it was a game that he had been waiting for from Simpson.
“He missed one early and I got right on him. I said ‘Ed, it’s about time you start making shots,'” Davis said. “He said ‘I got you’ and I said ‘well get me in the tournament’ , so he did so that was [a good sign].”
Even after a good win like the one over UTSA, the team knows that guys like Simpson will have to continue stepping up if the team wants to go far.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that can play basketball.When everybody’s right, we’re a dangerous team because we are so deep,” JaCorey Williams said. “We can put anybody into the game and they can make an impact. Today [was a great example of that].”
The Blue Raiders will be back in action tomorrow morning against the winner of the UTEP-Rice game. Tip-off will be at 11:30 a.m.