Freshman Kerry Hammonds’ career day ignited the Blue Raiders dominant second half in an 85-62 rout of the South Alabama Jaguars Saturday afternoon.
South Alabama kept things close in the first half, shooting 60 percent from the field, including 80 percent from three.
The Jaguars’ Augustine Rubit was a big reason for his team’s first half performance. Rubit scored 13 points and grabbed seven boards before the break, six of his rebounds came in the game’s first 10 minutes.
Outside of Rubit’s performance, finishing with 26 points and 13 rebounds, South Alabama did little to bother the Raiders throughout the game.
After tying the game with 7:11 remaining in the first half, the Raiders never trailed again throughout the game.
Middle led 43-36 at the half, forcing 12 turnovers and outscoring South Alabama 22-12 in the paint. After the break, it would be all MTSU.
The Raiders started the second half on a 9-0 run, stretching the lead to 15, and they would continue to pile on the offense throughout the game.
Kerry Hammonds entered the game in the second half at the 17:16 mark having already scored seven on 3-4 shooting in the first half.
From that point on Hammonds wouldn’t miss a shot from the field, hitting all six second half field goals, four of them from three, finishing the game with 28 points. The total shattered his previous career high of 12.
“I knew it would come eventually,” Raider senior James Washington said of Hammonds’ performance. “I mess with, I say ‘man you haven’t hit a three since the Auburn tournament.’ I knew it was eventually going to come, I was going to stay on him.”
In addition to a career high, Hammonds’ 28 points marks the highest scored in a single game by a freshman in school history.
“I’m glad we won,” Hammonds said when asked what he thought about the record after the game. “I think this is a game I needed to get my confidence back”
The one thing that did excite Hammonds about his point total was the knowledge that his father, a former player at MTSU, never scored as much in a single game.
“I’m going to hold that over his head,” he said.
Hammonds helped propel Middle’s lead over the 20-point mark, where they remained for the final 9:38 of the game.
“It was a complete game,” Raider coach Kermit Davis said. “We out-rebounded a good rebounding team. This team came in here playing great. We were playing a team that came in with a lot of confidence, not a lot of fault with the team today.”
Middle’s next game is Thursday night on the road against rival Western Kentucky.
“It’s a big game for them and it’s a big game for us,” Washington said. “We feel like they’re in our way right now. We’re going to go in Thursday and we’re going to take care of business. Since I’ve been here they haven’t beat me.”
The Raiders have now won five of their last six game, climbing to 7-4 in conference play.
“Our assists have really shot up,” Davis said. “The ball is moving, I think our zones have gotten more effective and have helped us stretch some leads out and helped us get some good Sun Belt wins.”