MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – In its last home game before the New Year, the Middle Tennessee men’s basketball team (8-3) surpassed the century mark for the second time this season, dominating Tennessee Temple 102-52.
The Blue Raiders had six players reach double-digits, which included career-high performances by Reggie Upshaw, Jr. and Tharone Chilton. Upshaw paced MT with a game-high 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting, while Chilton scored 11 points in 18 minutes of action.
Senior Neiko Hunter pitched in 16 points with 12 points coming in the first half, moving his double-digit scoring streak to seven-straight games, while fellow senior Shawn Jones reached double-figures for the fourth consecutive game, putting up 11 points. Guard tandem, Marcus Tarrance and Jaqawn Raymond knocked in 10 and 12 points, respectively.
Middle Tennessee and Tennessee Temple battled the first ten minutes as the Crusaders pulled within two at the 9:56 mark with MT holding the 23-21 advantage. The Blue Raiders then called a timeout to settle down. The 30 second break seemed to do the trick as MT used a 19-0 run to take a 42-21 lead with 4:33 left in the opening half. The Blue Raiders went on to close out the first half on a 33-7 run and took a 56-28 lead into the locker room at intermission.
The 28-point halftime lead is the largest for MT this season. The Blue Raiders also posted 56 points in the opening frame against Fisk Dec. 9 as MT went on to beat the Bulldogs 115-65.
Middle Tennessee opened the second half with a 19-2 run to extend the lead to 45 with 13:38 remaining. The Blue Raiders ended up taking a 56-point lead with 6:07 to go, marking the largest lead MT has held over an opponent this season.
MT went on to claim the 102-52 victory as the Blue Raider bench saw plenty of playing time. Joshua Phillips tallied seven points and grabbed six rebounds, while junior Jacquez Rozier put up nine points to go along with seven boards. Sophomore Gavin Gibson nailed a three-pointer to notch MT’s 100th point with 1:31 on the clock.
The Blue Raiders bested Tennessee Temple on the boards 47-28, while only turning the ball over a season-best eight times, compared to the Crusaders’ 19 miscues. The Blue Raiders shot a season-high 82.1-percent from the line, connecting on 23-of-28 freebies.
Middle Tennessee returns to action Saturday, Dec. 21, traveling to Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats at 1 p.m. The game will air on Fox Sports Ohio and ESPN3.