Western Kentucky proved to be too much for MTSU's men on Saturday as the Hilltoppers walked away with an easy 69-53 win over the Blue Raiders at Murphy Center.
“We had defensive breakdowns that put massive amounts of pressure on our offense and (WKU) has great players that will make plays when we have breakdowns,” MTSU coach Nick McDevitt said. “It is frustrating because I know we are better than we are playing, and at some point we have to win games.”
The Blue Raiders played competitive basketball in the first eight minutes, trimming the Hilltoppers lead to 13-12 after five consecutive points from CJ Jones. That would be the last glimmer of hope from then as WKU outscored MTSU 29-12 over the last 12 minutes of the half.
“We were out of sorts on offense and the turnovers ended up hurting us,” McDevitt said. “When we are not scoring we cannot change up defenses and they capitalized on that.”
During that span, WKU constructed a 21-2 run, shooting a perfect 8-of-8 from the floor while hold the Raiders for nine minutes with just one point.
MTSU sophomore Jayce Johnson played inspired basketball out of the break, scoring the first six Blue Raider points in the second half. Johnson finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.
“I have not played well in conference and I needed to be more aggressive and get to the free-throw line and fight back,” Johnson said.
The Blue Raiders defense played a better second half, cooling WKU to 32 percent shooting. Nonetheless, MTSU’s offensive struggles continuedd as it shot 36 percent for the game while gifting Western Kentucky 25 points off 18 turnovers.
In addition to Johnson, Reggie Scurry and CJ Jones finished in double figures. Scurry scored a team-high 15 points on 5 of 6 shooting, while Jones contributed 13 and five boards.
“I need to build off it because I am still not playing my best ball,” Scurry said after his best performance since his return from transfer ineligibility.
McDevitt and company look ahead to the C-USA road trip to south Florida to face conference leader Florida Atlantic and an improved Florida International squad.
“We are getting closer to who we are and working well together,” Scurry said. “I feel if we can find that, we can turn this season around.”
Western Kentucky (69): Taveion Hollingsworth 18, Josh Anderson 15, Carson Williams 14, Jared Savage 9, Jeremiah Grambell 7, Jordan Rawls 4, Isaiah Cozart 2
MTSU (53): Reggie Scurry 15, Jayce Johnson 13, CJ Jones 13, Eli Lawrence 5, Donovan Sims 3, Jo’Vontae Millner 2, Antonio Green 2