MTSU MEN OVER FIU IN ROUND BALL 69-52
By Joe Shivak
Photos by Shaun Foster
Murfreesboro, TN ( 12/29)……….With snow flurries and cold temperatures outside the Glass House, the MTSU Blue Raiders sent the FIU Panthers back to Miami, FL with a 69-52 loss. Marcos Knight and Shawn Jones led all scoring with 15 points each. Jones had 13 rebounds for a double-double. Jerome Frink and Malik Smith had 10 points each to lead FIU.
The win tonight gives head coach Kermit Davis his 100th Sun Belt Conference win in 11 seasons as the MTSU leader.
Middle played a total of 13 players. Their bench accounted for 23 points while FIU had only 15. The Blue Raiders never trailed in the contest.
After a slow start and back to back charging fouls against the Blue Raiders, Middle was the first to score with a jumper from the right side by Neiko Hunter. Hunter followed that up with a 3 pointer. Kerry Hammonds matched the 3 pointer with one of his own and Middle Tennessee would lead 8-0 going into the media timeout.
It took the Panthers until the 14:38 mark to score their first points. Middle had built up a 10-3 lead.
With 11:22 left to play until the half, FIU committed their 6th team foul. Panther Gaby Belardo made a layup off a steal making the score 14-5.
JT Sulton scored his first points giving Middle a 16-8 advantage. Raymond Cintron hit on a 3 pointer and Middle now leads 19-8.
Back to back buckets by Deric Hill helps FIU climb back to a 22-14 difference.
Sulton makes 2 free throws giving Middle a 10 point lead again.
Malik Smith hits on a 3 pointer for FIU making it 24-17.
Sulton commits his second personal foul in a heated exchange under the Panther basket with just under 2:00 until the half. Jerome Frink puts in 1 of 2 free throws making the score 28-18. Frink’s 3 pointer cuts the Middle lead to 28-21, the closest margin of the first half. Hunter draws a charge foul on Belardo setting up the last shot of the half for Middle. An outside shot from the right side corner was a missed 3 point shot by Cintron. Middle leads at the half 28-21.
Middle has a problem setting the offense in the early seconds of the second half and Coach Davis calls a time out. Sulton misses on a shot but FIU answers cutting the lead to 5 points.
The teams exchange baskets and the Blue Raiders are on top 30-25.
Sulton goes to the foul line and sinks two attempts giving him 8 points total so far and is shooting 100% from the charity stripe.
Hunter dunks it on a lobe pass from Knight putting Middle up by 10 points again.
Knight converts on a 3 point play after being fouled with under 15:00 left in the game.
At 12:36 left, Belardo commits his 3rd personal foul on a charging call.
Knight scores the next two Middle baskets, giving him 12 points total and leading all scorers.
FIU puts on a full court press for the second time in the game as Torin Walker enters the contest for his first playing minutes. Knight goes to the foul line where he makes 1 of 2 attempts. Middle has a 45-36 lead.
Tweety Knight goes to the foul line where he makes his first 2 points of the game. At 10:30 Middle has a 47-38 margin. Cintron hits on a 3 pointer but Sulton commits his 3rd personal foul with a check under the offensive basket. Marcos Knight is called for his first personal foul on a offensive charge under the Middle basket.
FIU continues the full court press in hopes of forcing Middle turnovers, but Marcos Knight answers with his 15th point. Jones continues to dominate under the boards and is sent to the free throw line and scores his 11th point. The Blue Raiders are unfazed by the full court pressure and Massey makes good on a free throw giving Middle a 56-44 lead. FIU starter Tola Akomolaff is the first player to foul out.
Two straight misses under the basket for FIU as they continue to struggle against Middle on their home court. With 2:56 left in the game, Middle is comfortably in front, 64-51. FIU shooting goes cold as they continue to miss from very close range. Cintron hits his 4th, 3 point basket, giving him a total of 12 points.
Knight goes down under the FIU basket with an ankle sprain. He leaves the game and heads to the Middle bench. A wide open Shawn Jones dunks the ball, giving him 15 points for the game.
Zane Gibson sees his first playing minutes of the game as Middle decides to hold on the ball for the last 15 seconds.
The win gives Middle a 2-0 record in the Sun Belt Conference as they start a 19 straight game conference schedule.
Middle next hosts North Texas on New Year’s Eve. See more photos click here….