Featured Photo by Luke Larkin
Story by Calvin White
Murfreesboro, TN– What started as a defensive disaster slowly turned into a defensive masterclass from Middle Tennessee men’s basketball. The Blue Raiders erased a 24-point first half deficit and limited FIU to just 17 points in the second half for a 69-58 victory Saturday night at the Murphy Center.
The 24-point comeback was the largest comeback by any Division-I team against a Division I opponent in men’s basketball this season.
MTSU (17-11, 10-7 C-USA) started the game shooting an ice-cold 3-for-17 from the floor at the under-8 media timeout of the first half while FIU (13-14, 7-9 C-USA) was shooting 66.7 percent from the floor. The Blue Raiders were able to shrink the Panther’s shooting percentage down to 38.6 percent by the game’s end.
“Nothing, we just started guarding harder,” MTSU head coach Nick McDevitt said of the defensive changes his team made. “We were just soft with our pressure and soft with our voices. We weren’t disrupting what they were trying to do.”
The second half was a tale of big offensive runs by the Blue Raiders. MTSU went on three runs of 9-0 during its comeback while holding the Panthers to just 26.9 percent shooting in the second half.
Middle Tennessee secured 19 offensive rebounds for 20 second chance points while shooting 21-for-26 from the free throw line. MTSU also scored 22 points off of 17 Panther turnovers.
Camryn Weston led Middle Tennessee with 14 points while Deandre Dishman (11 points, five rebounds, three steals) and Elias King (10 points, four rebounds, two blocks) were the only other Blue Raiders in double-figures.
“”If you don’t have a team like how we have, a mature team, and the guys that we have and the love that we have for each other, you quit,” Justin Bufford said. “You quit and you lose by 30 at home. We’re not that team. In the locker room, there wasn’t any panic. I went in and I told them that let’s just stick together. We’re going to make our run and we did at the end of the first half. I knew then we was going to be good, so we just had keep just stacking, just keep stacking. Our run was going to come, we’re going to get the stops.”
Calvin White is the sports editor for MTSU Sidelines. If you have information for a story, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.