Photo by Devin P. Grimes / MTSU Sidelines
Story by Carl Coates / Sports Reporter
The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (2-0) traveled to the CFSB Center to face the Murray State Racers for their first road matchup of the season. Although it came down to the wire, the Blue Raiders managed to hold on for a 72-67 victory.
Middle Tennessee was challenged throughout the entire first half, especially on the defensive end. With aggressive drives to the basket, Murray State managed to draw contact and consistently make their way to the free throw line where they connected on eleven straight attempts. This caused Blue Raiders to fall behind quickly in the opening stages of the game.
Despite the hot start from the Racers, Middle Tennessee managed to keep pace for the remainder of the first half. Transfer forward Nick King provided a much-needed spark for the squad, totaling 20 first half points. With a mixture of close, mid-range jumpers and three-point shooting, he helped cut the deficit to 44-42 at the half.
To begin the second half, Middle Tennessee picked up the defensive intensity. The length and size of the Blue Raiders sealed the driving lanes that led to easy buckets for the Racers in the first half.
Senior leader Giddy Potts had a quiet game for the Blue Raiders. After picking up his fourth foul in the second half, Potts remained a non-factor in this contest by finishing with seven points on 2-10 shooting and eight rebounds. The team rallied together to come up with some crucial hustle plays that helped capture the lead when it mattered most.
With 28 seconds remaining, King connected on a jumper from the top of the key to push the lead to 70-67.
After a desperation three fell short for the Racers, guard David Simmons swished two clutch free throws with two seconds on the clock to end the game.
King was the highlight of the big win, finishing with 31 points on 12 of 16 from the field and five rebounds.
Middle Tennessee’s free throw shooting was a major strength in the victory. The Blue Raiders connected on 21 of 22 for an impressive 95.5 percent.
Although it is very early in the season, the Raiders were not as sharp as usual from deep. For the entire matchup, Middle Tennessee only made one of their three-point attempts.
Coach Kermit Davis and the Blue Raiders will be expected to make a quick turnaround, as they travel back to Murfreesboro to face the Belmont Bruins. Tip-off is set for Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m.