|All around the country, college basketball teams are near the halfway portion of the conference schedule.
For both Middle Tennessee men’s and women’s basketball teams, the season has been so far with both teams notching a perfect record in league play after sweeping Arkansas State last week at the Murphy Center. Currently, both teams are 7-0 in the Sun Belt Conference.
It is the second time in the last four seasons that both Blue Raider teams have started league play 5-0 or better. The other time came in 2008-09. The last time a current SBC team achieved that feat was hated rival Western Kentucky during the 1992-93 season.
On Wednesday night, the women knocked off the Red Wolves 71-62, thanks in part to a perfect night shooting by MTSU sophomore Ebony Rowe.
Rowe finished the game 13-for-13 for career high 29 points.
The mark broke the school record, previously held by Kristi Brown back in a 1992 match up against Tennessee Tech.
On that night, Brown connected a perfect 12-for-12 from the floor.
Rowe did not know about breaking the record until after the game.
“I did not know until the guy on the radio said something about it. I give credit to our guards and the other post players. They were making amazing passes, just where it was easy for me to go up and get it and put it in,” Rowe said in the post game press conference. “They made it easy for me, so I give credit to my teammates for that.”
Since head coach Rick Insell took the helm of the women’s program before the 2005-06 season, the Blue Raiders have an impressive 57-1 SBC record at home, which includes a 33-game SBC home game-winning streak.
As for the men, the Blue Raiders made their conference record 7-0 with a win over the Red Wolves, 59-46, Thursday night at the Murphy Center.
All season, the Blue Raiders have relied on pressure defense during this winning streak. Thursday night was no different as it held the Red Wolves to 21 percent shooting from the field in the second half.
“I think Arkansas State got a little bit tired and I think our bench players contributed to that,” MTSU men’s head coach Kermit Davis said in the post game press conference.
Also, the Blue Raider bench outscored the Red Wolves 28-0 led by junior Kerry Hammonds 13 points off the bench. He nailed three key three-pointers to lead MTSU in scoring.
“The bench was a critical factor tonight like it has been in many games that we have won this season,” Davis said.
The win equals the school’s best start in school history at 18-2, which was originally set during the 1974-75 season. The Blue Raiders ended that season 23-5, and won its first ever Ohio Valley Conference regular season and tournament title. Also, MTSU made its first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, which it fell to Oregon State in the first round.
“It feels nice, but we are not satisfied,” MTSU junior guard Marcos Knight said after the game. “We work hard everyday. They say that if you work hard in practice, it pays off during games. We are going to continue to stay hungry and continue to work hard.”
This year’s Blue Raiders extended its winning streak to 10 in a row, and 14 out of the last 15. Member of the national media and fellow coaches around the nation are starting to take notice. In the latest ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll that came out on Monday, the Blue Raiders are inching closer and closer to the Top 25, but not quite there yet. Instead, MTSU is ranked in the others receiving votes category.
Davis added, “We have been a very good practice team. It has been competitive in practice because guys want to play in games. When you have lots of depth, it forces them to be competitive during practice.”
On Saturday night, both squads head to South Alabama for a doubleheader with the Jaguars. So far this season, the Blue Raiders have played in five doubleheaders, and each team is a perfect 5-0. Including the double dip with USA, MTSU has five more remaining on its schedule this season.
The next home game for both teams is against Troy. The women meet on Wednesday at 7 p.m., while the men face off the following night also at 7 p.m.