MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Middle Tennessee men’s basketball team (7-2) used a dominating team-performance against Fisk University (6-7) Monday night to claim its largest margin of victory this season with a 115-65 win.
The Blue Raiders had seven players score in double-figures with Shawn Jonesleading the way with 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting. Fellow big man, Neiko Hunter scored 14, while Reggie Upshaw, Jr. narrowly missed his second career double-double, recording a career-high 14 points to go along with nine rebounds.
“We’re right in the middle of exams so it’s nice to have a game like this now,” said head coach Kermit Davis. “A lot of guys got some more playing time and hopefully gained some more confidence. It’s also good to see guys like Reggie Upshaw get going. Josh Phillips played well tonight too. We held them to 30-percent shooting; we shot 60-percent and I really thought we played unselfishly. Obviously our level of competition will pick up on Saturday, but I’m really proud of our guys and how they played tonight.”
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 14-12 lead with 14:13 on the clock after two made free throws by Austin Watkins. That mark was the last time Fisk would have the lead as the Blue Raiders stormed out of the gates with a 27-6 run. During the 8:16 stretch, Jones scored 10 of his 18 points and finished tied with Watkins for the game-high.
Middle Tennessee took a 56-34 lead into the locker room at halftime. The last time the Blue Raiders scored 50 points in the first half was against UL-Lafayette Jan. 8, 2011. The program record for points in a half is 77, which was posted against Tennessee Wesleyan Dec. 8, 1988.
The second half was much like the first for the Blue Raiders, opening up the difference to 53 before settling on the 50 points advantage. Marcus Tarranceposted 10 second-half points for MT, while nine of Upshaw’s 14 came during the second frame.
Tarrance finished the contest with 13 points in his first start since the Nov. 16 game against Arkon. Joshua Phillips also added 13 points, hitting 9-of-14 from the free throw line on the way to career-highs for the freshman forward. Phillips also snagged a career-best eight boards.
Tweety Knight kicked in 12 points for MT, going a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe. Fellow senior Kerry Hammonds II also added 12 points, while handing out a game-high seven assists. Hammonds’ seven helpers tie his career-best mark, which he last recorded at UALR Feb. 16, 2013.
The Blue Raiders were led on the boards by Jacquez Rozier, collecting a game-best 10 rebounds. The 10 boards match the career-high he grabbed at Murray State earlier this season.
Middle Tennessee shot a season-high 61.8 percent from the floor, while recording 31 assists on 42 made baskets. MT put up 100 points for the first time since defeating Houston Baptist 109-79 Feb. 13, 2010.
The Blue Raiders return to action Dec. 14, traveling to Ole Miss for a 7 p.m. nonconference contest airing on CSS.