MTSU capped off an early, but key, Conference USA sweep on Saturday afternoon by defeating North Texas 79-68.
The Blue Raiders (13-3, 3-0) built a 10-point first-half lead, never looking back as they stretched the lead to 22 before the Mean Green trimmed the advantage late.
"Any time you go on the road and get plus-two is good," head coach Kermit Davis said. "We had great preparation and were ready to play, but I don't think we guarded early. We went to our bench, got some better energy and really settled into the game."
The bench indeed gave the Blue Raiders some spark as Ed Simpson scored nine points, while Brandon Walters added eight and five rebounds in just nine minutes of play.
Junior guard Giddy Potts led MTSU with 18 points and six rebounds, senior JaCorey Williams had a double-double with 16 points and 10 boards and senior forward Reggie Upshaw had 14 points and five rebounds.
North Texas (6-10, 0-4) shot 47 percent from the field, including 59 percent in the second half, but the Blue Raiders had only five turnovers and outrebounded the Mean Green 40-30.
"I thought we came out with the perfect game plan," Williams said. "We started a little slow but we got into a rhythm after a little bit and were able to get the scout into the game."
"North Texas came out and had a lot of pop and a lot of energy, but I think in time our depth won out," Davis added.
MTSU returns home this week with key games against Marshall on Thursday (7 p.m.) and Western Kentucky on Saturday (5 p.m.).
MTSU 80, Rice 77
The Blue Raiders notched a key road win over the Owls on Thursday with hot shooting and outstanding play by its big three players.
MTSU shot 50 percent from the field and 52.9 percent from three. The Raiders had 21 assists on the night to just nine turnovers and forced 14 Rice turnovers.
Upshaw had another huge game with 20 points and seven rebounds, Williams tallied 19 points and Potts netted 17 points.
"This was a really good road win for us," Davis said. "Rice is going to win a lot of ball games here and already have 11 wins this season. (Head coach) Mike (Rhoades) has done a great job with this Rice basketball program."
MTSU trailed 38-34 at halftime, but the Blue Raiders continued their hot shooting in the second half and finished at 50 percent for the game and 53 percent from 3-point range.
The Blue Raiders led 59-46 at one point in the second have before thwarting the Owls' comeback late in the game.
"The first 12 or 13 minutes of the second half were about as good as we can play," Davis said. "We ended up with 21 assists on 30 baskets tonight and then were able to get into our 13 (defense) and put some pressure on them."
Reach sports editor Monte Hale Jr. at email@example.com