Saturday, February 4, 2023

Middle Tennessee men’s scouting report: Charlotte 49ers

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Middle Tennessee men’s basketball (11-7, 4-3 C-USA) will take the court at home Thursday night at 6:00 in a rematch against Charlotte (12-6, 3-4 C-USA).

The 49ers enter the Murphy Center seeking to bounce back from a 58-60 loss to UTEP in Charlotte.

The last time the Raiders faced off against Charlotte on Dec. 29, it failed to mount a comeback and fell to the 49ers 82-67. Middle Tennessee, however, was without home court advantage, was playing Charlotte while they were in top form, and kept getting into foul trouble, including two technicals called on MTSU head coach Nick McDevitt.

Thursday night, the Blue Raiders will have the benefit of playing in the Murphy Center, coming off an exciting overtime win against UAB earlier this week. That victory propelled MTSU up in the Conference USA standings and gave it a winning 4-3 record in the league. To hold on to that winning record, Middle Tennessee must exact revenge against the 49ers at home.

Back in their first meeting this season, Charlotte fended off multiple Blue Raider comebacks via a 31-point surprise performance from 49er Brice Williams, who came off the bench averaging 8.9 points per game. At Charlotte’s next game, Williams replicated that display — a career high — against Louisiana Tech. Since then, however, his highest score was 16 against FAU two weeks ago.

Also in that December game, Charlotte benefited from a 13-5 foul differential in their favor, shooting 13-of-17 from the line. The 49ers also went on an impressive 17-2 shooting run over the course of five and a half minutes in the second half.

“That four or five minutes was the difference in the game,” Middle Tennessee head coach Nick McDevitt said. 

Home court advantage and energy from the crowd contributed to the 49ers’ hot hand, he explained.

But come tip-off in Murfreesboro, all those advantages are likely to be gone. 

The Blue Raiders will have a home crowd behind them, energized by the UAB win. They have refined their game and have had time to learn since their foul trouble at Charlotte. And, in view of all of this, Williams and the rest of the 49ers face an uphill battle to repeat their previous scoring antics.

A win would give the Blue Raiders the third best Conference USA record and kick start another home win streak.

Matthew Giffin is the editor-in-chief of MTSU Sidelines. If you have any information for a story, you can contact him at editor@mtsusidelines.com

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