On Saturday evening, head coach Kermit Davis reached another milestone in his 11-year Blue Raider career as the team knocked off Florida International, 69-52 at the Murphy Center.
Davis now has 100 career Sun Belt wins. He became the fourth coach in league history to reach the century mark. Currently, Davis is the winningest active head coach in the SBC. One of the stars in the game, senior guard Marcos Knight, was happy to help his coach achieve this record.
“It’s a great honor for Coach Davis, and we are happy to be a part of it,” Knight said after the win.
The Blue Raiders men’s basketball team was back in action after an eight-day layoff for the holidays, but the coaches and players were happy with the way they played in the game.
“I think we handled it pretty well,” Knight said. “We came out with a lot of energy in the first half. We had a really good win tonight; any win in the Sun Belt is big.”
The first half was a defensive struggle for both teams, as they combined for a total 31 turnovers, and 19 fouls. MTSU held the FIU offensive in check, holding the Panthers to their lowest point total in a half this season with 21. However, FIU pressure defense late in the half forced several mistakes by the Blue Raiders, and FIU finished on a 7-0 run to end the opening 20 minutes.
“We just played together as a team defensively,” Knight said. “They have great players. So we just had to help each other out.”
The Panthers cut the lead down to three, 30-27 after a basket by FIU senior Tola Akomolafe with 17:42 left in the game. MTSU answered with a 10-0 run, including a dunk by MTSU junior Neiko Hunter, and a three-point play by Blue Raider senior Marcos Knight. During the rest of the game, the Panthers were only able to cut the Blue Raider advantage down to seven. However, MTSU answered with three three-pointers by senior guard Raymond Cintron, and several contributions by his teammates.
The Blue Raider defense also held the hot shooting Panthers to only one long distance shot in the second half.
MTSU junior forward Shaun Jones had a double-double in the win with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Knight added 15 points, and Cintron chipped in with 12.
The Blue Raiders continued their undefeated streak at home this season. So far this season, the team is 7-0 at home, including a 56-52 win against Vanderbilt on Dec. 21. While that game was played at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, it counted as a home contest for the Blue Raiders. MTSU is now on a 19-game winning streak inside the Glass House.
MTSU ends 2012 with another conference home matchup against North Texas on Monday night. It will a battle against the two teams picked in the preseason to win their respective divisions, the Blue Raiders in the East and the Mean Green in the West. The game will be shown on ESPNU on New Year’s Eve at 7p.m.
“We are going to take it like any other conference game, no game is more important than the other one,” Knight said. “We got to prepare for them tomorrow since it is a short turnaround. We will watch film and scout them during practice.”