Jones, Green make key buckets to lead MTSU men past Lipscomb

MTSU's CJ Jones led the Blue Raiders with 23 points in a 73-70 road win at Lipscomb on Saturday. MTSU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

MTSU's men hadn't played on the Lipscomb University campus since 1961 before Saturday. The Blue Raiders might want go ahead and schedule that next trip.

After a tough few minutes offensively down the stretch in the second half, MTSU (2-0) got a couple of clutch plays from junior C.J. Jones and senior Antonio Green and held on to beat the Bisons (1-1) 73-70 at Allen Arena.

"We were able to gut one out here on the road," MTSU coach Nick McDevitt said. "I like the fact that we stuck together, executed down the stretch and were able to come out of here with a great road win."

Both defenses dominated for stretches of the second half, and the critical run came from Lipscomb.

The Bisons trailed by as many as nine after halftime but held MTSU scoreless for a stretch of more than five minutes as it crept back into the game then took a three-point lead with 4:33 left at 63-60.

Lipscomb's lead would last all the way until the 2:51 mark, when Jones came up big, hitting a midrange jumper while getting fouled. He sank the free throw to tie the game and end the scoreless drought.

"(Jones) was terrific on both sides of the floor," McDevitt said. "He made a big and-one to tie the game, a big three at the top of the key and had a deflection in our zone late in the game. Those are big-time plays."

Jones wasn't done being clutch.

After Green hit a 3-pointer to again tie the game, Lipscomb got a bucket with 39 seconds left to go up two. On the ensuing possession, Jones came around a screen at the top of the key, caught the pass and unloaded a dagger three that was nothing but net.

MTSU then got four free throws from Green, and on the defensive end, Jones got his hand on a pass for a steal to ice it.

"We were locked in all week," Jones said. "Coach talked the whole week about getting into a defensive stance, and even if your player doesn't have the ball, you can make a steal on back screens and backdoor cuts. We had to make plays late to get this win."

The Blue Raiders didn't exactly light the gym on fire in the first nine minutes of the contest, making just three of their first 14 shots and turning the ball five times.

They trailed 16-12 after a Lipscomb 3-pointer with 10:21 left in the half, but when Jones responded with a trey of his own 11 seconds later, the flood gates opened in a big way.

MTSU made its next six shots over a five-minute stretch, five of them from distance, turning the four-point deficit into a lead of as many as 13 in the half. It eventually went to the locker room with a 37-31 halftime advantage.

"At times we didn't execute some plays, but we just found a way to win," McDevitt said. "We had some guys who didn't play particularly well at times tonight, but you still have to find a way to win. We did that tonight."

Jones led MTSU with 23 points, hitting 8-of-13 shots, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range. He also had six rebounds.

Green also stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals. Freshmen Tyler Millin and Tyson Jackson were also in double-figure scoring with 11 and 10, respectively.

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