Middle Tennessee (7-2) at Belmont (6-2)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, December 13, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Curb Event Center (5,000) -- Nashville, Tennessee.
Television: CSS, ESPN3. Home Record: Middle Tennessee 4-0, Belmont 2-0. Away
Record: Middle Tennessee 3-1, Belmont 3-1. Neutral Record: Middle Tennessee
0-1, Belmont 1-1. Conference Record: Middle Tennessee 0-0, Belmont 0-0.
Series Record: Middle Tennessee leads, 20-12.
GAME NOTES: The Belmont Bruins will try to stay perfect at the Curb Events
Center this season when they host the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders for a non-
conference tilt on Thursday.
Kermit Davis and his Blue Raiders won their second consecutive game on
Saturday by defeating Ole Miss, 65-62, in a thriller in Murfreesboro. Middle
Tennessee has picked up impressive decisions over UCF (75-61), Louisiana
(72-58), and UAB (84-64) on the way to its 7-2 overall record. The Blue
Raiders, who have a deeper rotation than most, are generating 72.4 points per
game, which is 11 points more than their opposition is averaging.
The Bruins are coming off of a 100-66 rout of Lipscomb, which improved their
record to 6-2. Belmont has alternated losses with wins since starting out its
2012-13 campaign out with four straight victories. Coach Rick Byrd has his
squad playing very well on both ends of the floor as it is producing 78.4 ppg
on 48.4 percent shooting, including a 43.6 mark on attempts from beyond the
arc. The Bruins have limited their opponents to 64.1 ppg on 39.2 percent
This will be the 33rd meeting in history between these schools on the
hardwood. Middle Tennessee holds a 20-12 edge in the all-time series after its
thrilling 65-62 win in the last encounter on Dec. 13, 2011.
Middle Tennessee stepped up on the defensive end its last time out to keep the
Rebels at bay. It forced Ole Miss into 18 turnovers and held the SEC program
to 5-of-21 shooting from 3-point range to overcome a 35-30 deficit in
rebounding. Senior guard Marcos Knight paced the team with 14 points. After a
pair of 21-point performances this season, Knight is averaging a team-high
13.2 ppg. Junior forward Shawn Jones, who has registered two double-doubles
this year, is a solid role player with 10 points and a team-high 6.2 board per
outing. Swingman Jason Jones has been streaky, but he has shown the ability to
get it going in the past and could be a factor if Belmont allows him to get
into a rhythm early.
There was very little doubt which side was in control the last time Belmont
took the floor. The Bruins knocked down 15-of-35 attempts from 3-point range
to run to the 34-point win over Lipscomb. Senior leadership was apparent in
the backcourt as Ian Clark poured in 30 points and Kerron Johnson tallied 17.
Clark is pacing the team with 19.4 ppg, while Johnson is second with 13.9 ppg.
Senior Trevor Noack (11.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and junior Blake Jenkins (10.4 ppg,
5.0 rpg) form a decent frontcourt for Belmont, which also has a solid
playmaker in swingman J.J. Mann.
This is a huge game for both sides, as each could find themselves in the NCAA
Tournament field. The Blue Raiders will have a tough time overcoming the
homecourt advantage and slowing down Clark. However, Middle Tennessee's five
playing as one philosophy has been nothing but successful since the beginning
of last season. Belmont's perfect home record is going to face a very tough
test in what will be a hard-fought contest.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Belmont 74, Middle Tennessee 72
12/13 10:30:45 ET