Men’s Basketball: Blue Raiders claim top spot in standings with win over ODU

Photo by Joi Williams / MTSU Sidelines

Story by Darius Horton / Sports Reporter

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (17-5, 9-1) strolled into Norfolk, Virginia on a three-game winning streak as they prepared to take on the Old Dominion Monarchs (16-5, 7-2). In a game that came down to the wire, the Blue Raiders used a late surge to steal another road win by a final score of 66-59.

With the victory, the Blue Raiders now hold a 9-0 record against the Monarchs in the all-time series.

Middle Tennessee also took over the top spot in the Conference USA standings and currently hold a one-game lead over Western Kentucky for first place.

The Blue Raiders found themselves down late by a score of 51-50, but then embarked on a late, game-winning run they have become known for. Behind the veteran leadership of Giddy Potts and Nick King, MTSU closed the game on a 16-8 run to start the weekend road trip with a win. This included a solid performance from the Blue Raiders at the free throw line (5-7) to seal the deal.

Trio of veterans steps up to lead MTSU to victory

The Blue Raiders had three players in double-digits against the Monarchs, as they were led by Antwain Johnson’s 18 points on 7-12 shooting from the floor.

King added a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds on the strength of 6-12 shooting from the field. Potts was the only other player to end in double figures, as he scored 12 points and made two late jumpers in the closing run to seal the win.

Potts also made the defensive play of the game when he stole a pass with 54 seconds remaining in regulation to lead the Blue Raiders to victory. If these three continue this excellent level of play, it will be hard for any team in the conference to beat them.

Blue Raiders show maturity and poise in win

Though the game was close, the Blue Raiders managed to be in the lead for a majority of the contest. They opened the game on a 12-4 run, and only gave up the lead one time in the first half.

The Monarchs took their last lead with a little under six minutes left in the game, a swing that might break most teams. Middle Tennessee stayed composed and continued to play as a team by going on a big run to end the game and end ODU’s four-game winning steak.

To win this game, they were forced to make shots at the line under pressure, as well as making stops at the defensive end to hold the lead. The Blue Raiders managed to do both, and it led them to the top spot in the conference.

Middle Tennessee held ODU to 36.8 percent shooting from the floor overall, a number that will lead to many wins if this effort is duplicated.

What’s next?

The Blue Raiders will head to Charlotte, North Caroline to take on the Charlotte 49ers on Saturday at 6 p.m.

To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis (@RustyEllis13), email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

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

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