Both the MTSU men’s and women’s basketball teams know they have huge conference road games tonight at North Texas.
The Lady Raiders, are hoping not to make the same mistake and take the Mean Green lightly unlike the first meeting on Dec. 27 when MTSU escaped with a 66-64 win at the Murphy Center. MTSU forward Icelyn Elie nailed a 3-pointer with 15 seconds remaining in the game to win the game. This time, the Lady Raiders will not look past their opponent tonight.
“I do not think our girls gave them the respect they deserved coming in here,” MTSU women's Coach Rick Insell said. "We will not make that same mistake going there. Everybody plays better on their home court, so we will be a little more focused and show a little more intensity. I think we are getting better as a team.”
MTSU senior guard Kortni Jones believes the team has a better game plan to handle UNT tonight.
“I know they have done something most teams have not and that play zone and press us the entire game,” Jones said on Tuesday. “Our main focus is to try to figure out how to break that 2-3 zone and handle their pressure.”
This Sunday, the Lady Raiders welcome the Lady Hilltoppers to the Murphy Center. MTSU will be looking for its 10th consecutive win against its hated rival. Also, Insell is 14-3 all-time against Western Kentucky University. It will be a meeting between the top two teams in the Sun Belt Conference Eastern Division.
Heading into this weekend’s action, the Lady Raiders are 13-5, 6-1, while North Texas is 8-11, 6-3. Before traveling to Murfreesboro on Sunday, Western faces South Alabama tonight.
While the men are hoping to sweep the season series against the Mean Green later tonight inside the Super Pit, earlier this season, the Blue Raiders knocked them off 75-57 on Dec. 31.
“You can take a lot from it, but you also know going to their home floor now they are going to play a lot better and faster,” Blue Raider senior guard Bruce Massey said on Tuesday. “This game can help their season with a big win.”
However, long time Blue Raider head coach Kermit Davis prides his teams on winning conference games on the road. This season is no different with its only conference loss on the road a couple of weeks ago against Arkansas State.
“Playing in big environments does not bother us, but we know it gives the home team an advantage to have the crowd behind them,” Massey said. “Of course, we have been road tested: so we should be ready going into this game.”
Currently, the Blue Raiders are 16-4, 8-1 on the season, while leading the SBC Eastern Division.
A couple of days later, Western comes into the Murphy Center as MTSU wants to get payback from a loss on the road late last season which knocked the Blue Raiders from getting an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament. This year, the Blue Raiders are looking for revenge.
“It’s a lot of movaition because they got the last laugh last year,” Massey said. “They feel like they are the top dog when they come in here, but we got to throw the first punch.”
Tonight’s doubleheader at UNT starts at 5 p.m. with the women game. The men’s game is scheduled for 30 minutes after the conclusion of the women’s game.