Thursday, September 28, 2023

Historically Bad Offensive Night costs Blue Raiders


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A slow, historically bad offensive night doomed the Blue Raiders as the Murray State Racers (1-1) picked up a 68-49 victory over the Blue Raiders.

Middle Tennessee (1-1) shot 18.2 percent (12-of-66) from the floor, the lowest total in the Kermit Davis era of Middle Tennessee basketball.

The previous low was the 26 percent that MTSU shot against Cincinnati last season, a 69-48 defeat for the Blue Raiders.

“(We) shot as poorly as I’ve ever had a team shoot in 32 years of college basketball,” MTSU head coach Kermit Davis said. “I’ve never been associated with that as an assistant coach or a head coach…never shot balls like that.”

Middle Tennessee’s offense, specifically the inside game, was overshadowed by the play of Murray State.

Easy layups and put backs were missed by the Blue Raiders, and it was evident as the Racers outscored MTSU 38 to 18 in the paint.

Overall, MTSU’s starting five of Reggie Upshaw, Jacquez Rozier, Jaqawn Raymond, JaQuel Richmond and Marcus Tarrance shot a combined 6-of-35 from the field.

“It’s just so many breakdowns from a scouting standpoint,” Davis said of his team. “We just have no understanding of the process of winning right now. We’ve got to figure it out.”

The Blue Raiders did execute when it came to free throws. MTSU shot 96 percent from the line, the second highest percentage in school history.

It was the highest percentage for the Blue Raiders since Jan. 9, 1978, in which they converted 95 percent against Eastern Kentucky.

Jacquez Rozier led the way with career-highs of 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Rozier drove the Blue Raiders back from a double-digit deficit, posting five points and four rebounds in a 10-0 run that cut Middle Tennessee’s deficit to nine at the 7:59 mark.

“He competed his tail off the whole game,” Davis said of Rozier. “He had seven offensive rebounds, but we still struggled against their athleticism, which we’re going to face every night. I’m proud of Jacquez though.”

Murray State’s Jarvis Williams had a dominant game, tying his career-high of 28 points on 12-of-19 shooting.

Williams also brought down a game-high 12 rebounds and recorded a game-high three blocks.

Cameron Payne, the Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Player of the Year, tallied 15 points, six rebounds and a game-high six assists.

The opening nine minutes were back-and-forth as the teams traded baskets right out of the gate. With the score at 17-17, the Racers would go on a 15-5 run to take a 33-21 lead late in the first half.

Murray State would enter halftime with a 37-25 advantage, and would not let up following the intermission.

The Racers would go on an 11-4 run in the first five minutes of the second half, giving Murray State a commanding 48-29 lead.

Led by Rozier and Upshaw, the Blue Raiders would battle back to a manageable 56-47 deficit with 6:40 remaining in the game.

It would be too late for MTSU as the Racers would close out the game with a 12-2 run to put away the game.

Middle Tennessee will remain at home as they begin play in the Emerald Coast Classic. Tip off against Southern University is at 3:30 p.m. CT on Nov. 22.

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