Middle Tennessee's men ended the first half on a hot streak, going on a 20-4 run across the final 7:27 of the opening period, to roll over Florida Atlantic and earn its first C-USA win of the season on Thursday night at the Murphy Center.
The Blue Raiders (10-6, 1-2 C-USA) assisted on 17 of their 28 made baskets in the 70-57 victory, while scoring 25 points off of 19 Owl turnovers, leading by as many as 28 points as they rolled to their seventh home win of the season and preserved their perfect record at home this season. FAU (8-7, 1-1 C-USA) was limited to just five assists for a miniscule 0.26-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
"I was really happy with the way we played for almost the entirety of the game," Middle Tennessee coach Nick McDevitt said. "We started a little sluggish, but when Josh [Jefferson] made a couple of shots, it kind of sparked our team. And then for the next 35 minutes off the clock, I thought we were really playing hard and connected."
Jefferson led all scorers with 19 points, including a 5-for-10 clip from beyond the arc. Camryn Weston added 13 points off the bench, leading a bench unit that dropped 32 points on their own, including nine from Tyler Millin and seven from Teafale Lenard.
"Our team is just so deep, you can't really focus on one player," Jefferson said of his wide-open, first-half looks. "If they're all focused on me, one of my teammates is going to get open. I just thought it was just a good team effort. They helped me get open, and I just had to knock down the shots."
Weston and Lenard combined for the highlight play of the night in the second half, when Weston took the ball up court on the fast break off a Christian Fussell block and capitalized on a 5-on-4 break, finding the freshman forward in mid-air for the salacious slam on the alley-oop.
"In practice, we play around with throwing lobs to each other," Weston said with a smile after the game. "I just knew if I threw that lob right there, he was going to get it."
The Blue Raiders rode hot shooting to a dominant first half lead, heading into the locker room at halftime with a 40-24 advantage. Middle Tennessee at one point made seven shots from the field in a row during their run to end the half, spending most of the half hovering around a 50-percent shooting percentage from both beyond the arc and from the floor.
FAU, meanwhile, was ice cold shooting in the first half, going just 6-for-21 from the field and 1-for-9 from three, needing an 11-of-15 clip from the free throw to even stick around in the game.
DeAndre Dishman remains undefeated on his birthday as a collegiate player, adding five points, five rebounds and three assists to his team's efforts on Thursday night. With Eastern Kentucky, Dishman defeated SEMO 91-86 on January 13, 2018.
Middle Tennessee will look to continue to defend the Murphy Center, where they've won nine straight games dating back to last season, on Saturday, against. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.