|A hot Middle Tennessee basketball team will take its play on the road this week for a pair of games against Troy and Arkansas-Little Rock.
The Blue Raiders have won five straight and seven of their last eight games. Coincidently, the current run started against Troy on Jan. 20 at Murphy Center.
Senior James Washington is averaging 14.8 points per game and has missed just six of 39 free throw opportunities during the impressive run by the Blue Raiders. R-sophomore Jason Jones has also aided Middle Tennessee’s offense as he is averaging 13.8 points per game. The pair are also averaging double figure scoring on the season.
In Sun Belt action, senior Trevor Ottley is averaging 5.7 rebounds per game while J. Jones has been adding 5.2 per game. Ottley also leads the team in blocks with 18 while r-junior Jimmy Oden has 26 steals.
Troy has won two of its last three games with its only loss coming at home in overtime to FIU. Middle Tennessee leads the all-time series 8-6 and is 2-4 on the road at Sartain Hall.
Three players are averaging double figure scoring led by Vernon Taylor with 15.5 points per game. Bernard Toombs leads the team in rebounds with 9.4 per game. In Sun Belt action, Will Weathers leads the team in scoring with his 15.4 points per game. Toombs is averaging almost a double-double with 10.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in league play.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and Chip Walters will call the action at Troy on the Blue Raider Network. Then Middle Tennessee travels to Little Rock, Ark., for a weekend matchup with the Trojans on Sat., Feb. 19 at 3 p.m. The game with UALR has been designated the Sun Belt Game of the Week and will air locally on CSS.
The Sun Belt Championships will be held in Hot Springs, Ark., March 4-8. Tickets for all sessions are $83 and on sale through the Blue Raider Ticket Office by contacting 1-888-YES-MTSU or by visiting goblueraiders.com.
NOTES AND HIGHLIGHTS
Picking up the pace...
After getting off to a sluggish 2-3 start in Sun Belt Conference action, the Blue Raiders have won seven of their last eight games. This includes five home wins and a road win over Western Kentucky. Middle Tennessee’s average margin of victory during the current stretch is 11.6, with its closest point margin begin six against ULM. The last time the Blue Raiders went on a streak like this was last season on their way to winning the SBC East Division Title. Middle Tennessee went 7-1 between Jan. 18 and Feb. 11 and won 11 of their last 13 games to end the regular season.
With the win over Western Kentucky (2/10/11), Middle Tennessee recorded its 40th Sun Belt road win since the 2002-03 season. The Blue Raiders are first in Sun Belt road wins during the span. Middle Tennessee had the best Sun Belt road record in 2009-10 at 7-2 and is 3-3 this season.
On the road again...
Middle Tennessee will travel 2,568 miles for its next three games. The Blue Raiders will bus round trip 1,232 from Murfreesboro to Troy, Ala., to Little Rock, Ark., and back to Murfreesboro. Then Middle Tennessee will fly 668 air miles to Houston, Texas for its game with Houston Baptist on Tuesday, Feb. 22.
Middle Tennessee will have just 42 hours from when it finishes its game with Troy to prepare for UALR. This time period includes an 8 and a half hour bus trip between the two cities. It will be the sixth time this season the Blue Raiders have had such a quick turnaround between games and just the second time both of those games have been on the road. The last time both contests were on the road there was just 30 minutes separating each team as it fell against Florida Atlantic and FIU.