Story by Quinterious Mabone / Contributing Writer
Basketball in Murfreesboro is back, and the Blue Raiders men’s basketball team made a statement in their season opener against the Brescia Bearcats on Tuesday.
The Blue Raiders started with pure dominance, taking a 27-point lead at halftime with their pressure defense and motion offense. Fans were ecstatic to be back in the Murphy Center, especially head coach Nick McDevitt.
“It’s great to be back in front of fans,” head coach Nick McDevitt said. “Having people back here in the Murphy Center is really something our players had been waiting on. It’s just different having people out there.”
With their high, pressure, full court press defense, the Blue Raiders forced the Bearcats to turn the ball over 17 times in the first half. In return, they scored 28 points off Brescia turnovers on their way to a 49-22 lead at half. Coach McDevitt’s depth chart was also on display, playing 12 guys in the first half.
The Blue Raiders started slow on the offensive side, shooting 1-11 at the beginning of the game. They picked it up late in the first half with a 5-for-7 clip from beyond the arc while ending on a 16-0 run heading to the locker room.
In the second half, the Blue Raiders dominance continued, jumping out to a lead as large as 44 points. The team got easy buckets at the rim, shooting 19-for-30 from the field, and 7-for-15 from beyond the arc.
A player to watch out for is freshman Josh Jefferson. He scored 16 points while adding four steals to his stat sheet. “It’s exciting,” Jefferson said. “We have length, we have depth, it’s just very exciting, and I can’t wait to keep it going.”
A player to watch for off the bench is sophomore Isiah Turner. He scored 13 points while displaying great touch around the glass. “Most of my life, I was kind of an undersized big man,” Turner said. “But going into playing with teams on the circuit and playing with guys that are bigger, it helped me develop a lot of guard skills, so it worked out very well.
Looking ahead into the season, the Blue Raiders will look to continue putting numbers on the board, something that coach McDevitt has preached to his team. “We’ve talked all summer and all preseason that one of our strengths is going to be in our numbers,” McDevitt said. “The fact that we’re going to have a lot of players that can go into the game and contribute in different ways. That’s going to continue to be something we lean on all year, that wasn’t just a thing tonight.”
The Blue Raiders will look to continue this dominance on Friday as they host the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats at 6 p.m.