Blue Raiders grind out win over ODU

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MTSU men's basketball coach Kermit Davis wears special Autism Awareness pin during 64-48 win over Old Dominion on Feb. 1. (Photo courtesy Bradley Lambert/MTSU Athletics)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Saturday was a special night for the MTSU men’s basketball team.

Not only did it welcome Old Dominion to the Murphy Center for the first time in school history in its first meeting between the teams since 1986. Also, all of the coaches on both teams wore special pins on its jackets for Autism Awareness Day as the Blue Raiders won 64-48.

According to the Autism Speaks website, one in 88 children and one in 54 boys have been affected by autism. One of those affected by it, includes myself.

As I wrote in an October 2011 column, I was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome a few years ago. Events like tonight’s game have a special meaning for me and all of those who had been touched by it.

So, I am really glad which a lot of the coaches around the nation decided to wear the Autism Awareness pins today. It means a lot to those, including myself who struggle each day with the disease on a daily basis.

Hopefully, events like this will get the word out about autism, and maybe one day enough medical research will done to help find a cure for it. Currently, there is no cure for autism.

However, the support I have received from co-workers, friends and family members since I announced in the column three years ago I have autism has been overwhelming. Today, I do not look at it as a negative, but instead I am very blessed on how everything has turned out in my life.

“I did not really know the stat of one in 54 young males have autism,” MTSU head coach Kermit Davis said. “It was great every game on television in college basketball today, everybody had them on. So, hopefully we can do a small part here with the publicity and bring awareness. We are all touched by autism in one way or another by a friend or relative.”

Coming into tonight’s game, the Blue Raiders were hoping to make it three wins in a row, and also continue its impressive home record of 41-4 in the past three seasons.  However, the Monarchs have showed early on it can win key conference games on the road. ODU won its first three C-USA road games this season, before falling at UAB on Thursday night.

So, this was a big game for both teams hoping to stay in the hunt for a C-USA regular season title as both teams were near the top of the standings with equal 4-2 records inside the conference as both teams are its C-USA debut this season.

As for the game itself, the Blue Raiders had to grind it out over the Monarchs, but it picked up a 64-48 win on Saturday night. Senior forward Shaun Jones led the way for MTSU with 20 points and senior guard and former Siegel star Kerry Hammonds added 14 points in the win.

The Blue Raiders improve to 15-7, 5-2, while the Monarchs dropped to 10-12, 4-3 on the season. Next week, MTSU heads to the Sunshine State for two key road conference games against old foes, Florida Atlantic and Florida International.

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Autism, Basketball, Blue Raiders, Kermit Davis, MTSU, Shaun Jones
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