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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 3, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Murphy Center (11.520) -- Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Television: MyTv 30. Home Record: Belmont 3-1, Middle Tennessee 5-0. Away Record: Belmont 2-1, Middle Tennessee 1-1. Neutral Record: Belmont 2-0, Middle Tennessee 0-0. Conference Record: Belmont 0-0, Middle Tennessee 0-0. Series Record: Middle Tennessee leads, 20-13.
GAME NOTES: Mid-major powers will come face-to-face at the Murphy Center on Tuesday when the Belmont Bruins go up against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in non-conference play.
Last time out Belmont had a six-game win streak come to an end with an 81-68 setback against Virginia Commonwealth. The loss was just the second in nine games for the Bruins, who have had some success on the road (2-1), including an 83-80 win over then No. 12 North Carolina. Belmont hosts Fairfield next.
Middle Tennessee has recovered from a loss to No. 15 Florida with wins in back-to-back games. On Saturday, the Blue Raiders opened up a three-game homestand with a 65-55 triumph over South Alabama. The loss to the Gators is the only on the season for Middle Tennessee.
These teams have met in each of the last nine seasons. Last year the Bruins took a 64-49 victory at home for their fifth win in the last six meetings. Middle Tennessee still leads the series, 20-13.
Belmont became just another victim of VCU's patented defensive pressure in the loss to the Rams. The Bruins turned the ball over 21 times in the contest, which led to 21 points for the victorious Rams. Belmont did hit 11-of-27 3- point tries during the contest as it attempted to shoot itself into contention.
Shooting from beyond the arc is a key component of Belmont's offensive game plan. The Bruins have made the second most 3-pointers (84) in the country this season and are shooting just shy of 40 percent from that distance. Overall they are averaging 84.1 points per game and netting 51 percent of their shots from the field. J.J. Mann (17.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg. 3 apg) really stuffs that stat sheet for the Bruins, with team highs in points, rebounds and steals. The 6-foot-6 swingman is one of the team's most productive 3-point shooters as well. Drew Windler (13.8 ppg), Craig Bradshaw (11.4 ppg) and Reece Chamberlain (10.9 ppg) also serve as important pieces for Belmont.
Despite shooting below 40 percent from the floor, Middle Tennessee was able to defeat South Alabama thanks to some tight defense. The Blue Raiders held the Jaguars to just a 27.1 percent success rate from the field and also had a 45-37 edge on the boards. A 32-12 advantage on points in the paint helped as well.
Middle Tennessee has three double-figure scorers. Leading the way is Kerry Hammonds (13.1 ppg). Though he has scored the most points for Middle Tennessee, he has still struggled to hit shots at a consistent pace, getting only 37.9 percent of his field-goal tries into the basket. Shawn Jones (12.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg) is a more reliable scorer, hitting 55 percent from the field, while doing most of the work on the glass. Neiko Hunter (11.7 ppg) is also scoring in double figures, despite playing just over 23 minutes per game.
Playing on the road hasn't been a major problem for the Bruins. Still, it is difficult to trust a team so reliant on the 3-point shot in a hostile environment. Playing at home will be the difference for the Blue Raiders in a close game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Middle Tennessee 72, Belmont 70
12/03 10:38:47 ET