Photo by David Chamberlain / MTSU Sidelines
After a disastrous second half versus Belmont earlier in the week, the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (3-1) overcame a slow start and a sloppy second half to put away Charleston Southern (2-2) 76-73 on Friday night at Murphy Center.
MTSU was led by sharpshooter Antonio Green, who had a big night from beyond the arc with 22 points and six rebounds.
A stout defensive showing by the Blue Raiders limited the Buccaneers to only 34 percent shooting from the field.
Green continues explosive scoring performances
It was another high-scoring night for the junior guard from Tupelo, Mississippi. Green helped pull the Blue Raiders out of a slow start with two quick triples. Green was also the best Blue Raider from the charity stripe, going 7-8 from the line.
Head coach Nick McDevitt lumped praise on Green by saying he’ll be at the top of any scouting report on MTSU.
Foul trouble forces different rotations
The Buccaneers and Blue Raiders combined for 51 personal fouls on the night, with the two teams spending the majority of the contest in the bonus and on the free throw line. MTSU narrowly out-shot CSU by one percent on free throws.
However, in crunch time, the Blue Raiders found it difficult to make the crucial shots from the line, allowing the Bucs to tighten the gap.
MTSU got away with the errors on the night but may not be so lucky down the road against tougher competition.
Protection in the paint
After a net-negative outing inside versus Belmont, MTSU cleaned up in the paint against CSU, outscoring them 34-16 down low.
While Charleston Southern is not an elite interior scoring squad, it is a good sign of progress by the Blue Raider bigs such as James Hawthorne and Karl Gamble that the Bucs were not able to pick apart the MT defense like the Bruins did on Monday.
With a challenge against Virginia on the horizon, it’ll be tested to see how much improvement, if any, the Blue Raiders have made in a short period of time against the size of the Cavaliers.
MTSU will embark on its trip to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis where an opening-round date with defending ACC Champion Virginia awaits. The Blue Raiders will play at least two more matches regardless of that result before returning to Murfreesboro.