GAME NOTES: The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders shoot for a fourth straight win tonight, as they host the UTEP Miners in Conference USA action at the Murphy Center.
New to the league, the Blue Raiders have come over from the Sun Belt Conference where they were one of the more dominant programs a year ago. At present, the team is off to a 1-0 start to C-USA play thanks to an 89-84 overtime affair versus UAB last Saturday. The win was the third straight for the team, and the eighth in nine opportunities at home in 2013-14.
As for the Miners, they recently suffered a major shake-up to the roster with McKenzie Moore, Justin Crosgile and Jalen Ragland all being dismissed from the team. Nevertheless, UTEP still managed to come out on top against Marshall over the weekend in a 66-56 final. The victory was the sixth in the last seven outings for the squad.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools on the hardwood.
In a game that featured six ties and 10 lead changes, the Miners snapped a 27-27 tie at the break by shooting 56.5 percent from the field and holding the Thundering Herd to just 27.3 percent from the floor, including 1-of-10 behind the 3-point line. John Bohannon delivered 18 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, while Vince Hunter came up a rebound shy of his own double-double with a game-high 20 points. Julian Washburn pitched in 17 points and Cedrick Lang grabbed 10 rebounds before fouling out without scoring a single point.
Bohannon, who was named the C-USA Player of the Week on Monday, is second on the scoring list for the Miners with 11.3 ppg and is tops with 8.5 rpg. Washburn is considered the top scorer among active performers with 12.0 ppg, shooting 38.2 percent behind the 3-point line, while Hunter checks in with 10.5 ppg thanks to 59.2 percent accuracy from the floor and not so much his 59.4 percent at the free-throw line.
Shawn Jones scored 22 points and pulled down nine rebounds as the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders slipped by UAB in overtime, 89-84, in Conference USA play at the Murphy Center. Kerry Hammonds converted 5-of-10 behind the 3-point line as he tallied 17 points for the Blue Raiders, followed by Reggie Upshaw and Neiko Hunter with 15 and 12 points, respectively. Thanks to a layup and a free throw in the final minute of overtime by Upshaw, the hosts managed to come away with the hard-fought victory.
Connecting on an even 60 percent of his field goal chances, Jones is the top scorer for the Blue Raiders at the moment with 14.4 ppg, not to mention leading the way on the glass with 8.8 rpg. Hunter pitches in with 13.5 ppg and Hammonds another 12.5 ppg as the trio spearheads an offensive attack that generates 76.8 ppg and outscores the competition by an average of 8.3 ppg.
As long as the Miners have Bohannon at their disposal, and Hunter is able to produce on offense as well, the team will always be in the hunt for the victory, even tonight at the Murphy Center.
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