The MTSU men’s basketball team celebrated Mardi Gras tonight at the Murphy Center against Conference USA foe, Tulane. The Blue Raiders (18-7,8-2) made it six wins in a row with a 71-44 victory over the Green Wave (13-12, 5-5) on Thursday night. It sets up a huge home matchup on Saturday against C-USA leader Southern Mississippi.
After Tulane went on a 7-0 run to tie the score at 13, the Blue Raiders went on an 11-0 run to break the game wide open midway through the opening half. It five points from MTSU senior forward, Neiko Hunter and a three-pointer by freshman forward Reggie Upshaw. The Blue Raiders accomplish it without the services of leading scorer Shawn Jones, who was on the bench at the time.
By the end of the half, MTSU was able to expand the lead to 18 points, 35-17, which included a long distance shot by sophomore guard Jaqawn Raymond. It was the lowest number of points, the Blue Raiders have allowed in the first half this season. The 44 points were the least amount of points MTSU has allowed in a game this season.
“Coming in we knew Tulane was a good offensively team,” Jones said. “We just put an emphasis on playing defense, and contesting and blocking shots.”
The halftime entertainment was special on this night as former Siegel golfer and current MTSU freshman student G Rollins nailed a half court shot for 10,000 dollars, and then as part of the Mardi Gras celebration several MTSU students threw out beads to the huge crowd in attendance.
The Blue Raiders were led by Hammonds 18 points including four threes, while Jones added 17, and Hunter had 13. Tulane freshman guard Jonathan Stark had 15.
MTSU finished the game holding Tulane to 30 percent shooting. The Blue Raiders also outscored the Green Wave in the points off turnovers category 14 to 11. Another key stat in the win for MTSU was the points in the paint as it outscored them 24 to 16. The Blue Raiders also held the Green Waves leading scorer sophomore guard Louis Dabney to only nine points. Dabney had been averaging 16.8 points per game.
The victory made it six in a row this season and at home for the Blue Raiders. It also improved MTSU impressive home record to 12-2 this season, and 43-4 over the last three season which is one of the best marks in the nation. Also, MTSU improved to 41-5 in conference games during the last three seasons.
Now, it sets up a huge matchup on Saturday afternoon against C-USA leader, Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles comes into the game at 1 p.m. on CSS. USM, led by former MTSU assistant under current head coach Kermit Davis, Donnie Tynell, comes into the game on a long eight game winning streak on its own after playing UAB on Thursday. The final of that game was unavailable when this article went online.
Right now, both teams have a Top 100 RPI; USM has the C-USA lowest RPI at 34, while the Blue Raiders are at 90. The Blue Raiders are really looking forward to challenge of facing the best team in C-USA.
“We prepare ourselves all throughout the year for games like this,” Hunter said. “We are going to make it a fun game and play hard and defend. We are going to play to the best of our ability.”