Middle Tennessee defeathers Rice to open C-USA Play

MURFREESBORO, Tennessee – Middle Tennessee men’s basketball flashed Rice at both ends of the court Tuesday night, choking the Owls with their defense and raining down long-range shots to dominate the C-USA opener 2022-23 81-46 at the Murphy Center.

After losing the first media timeout of the first half 0-2, MTSU went on a 14-point run, eventually leading by as much as 30 points in the first half and going into the game with a 44-18 advantage dressing room the break. After MTSU missed the first five shots from the field, including three from beyond the arc, MTSU made the remainder of half 17 of 24 shots, including a 9-for-11 clip for three.

The Blue Raiders (2:1, 1:0 C-USA) dominated defensively all night and kept the Owls (1:2, 0:1 C-USA) over the arch with only 14.3 percent (2:14). out , outbound rice 35-25. Rice turned the ball 18 times, earning 24 points for MTSU.

Eli Lawrence led all scorers with 16 points and missed just one shot all night to finish the evening 6-for-7, including 4-for-5 for three. The junior guard also added four rebounds and three assists. TreVon Smith was key off the bench and scored 14 points with five rebounds on guard. Christian Fussel and Teafale Lenard strode past MTSU in passing and eclipsed four assists each in the win, a career-high for each.

Through the numbers

81.8 percent: After the U16 media timeout in the first half at 3:59 p.m., MTSU was 0-3 from three. In the last 16 minutes of the half, the Blue Raiders shot 81.8 percent from beyond the arc to give the team a 26-point halftime lead.

35: The 36-point lead in the 81-46 is the largest margin MTSU has gained in a conference game since beating Marshall by 39 points (90-51) on Feb. 19, 2015 at the Murphy Center.

20:10: The 2-for-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is the best for the Blue Raiders since MTSU won the 2022 C-USA East Division title against Western Kentucky 69-52. The Blue Raiders also gave out 20 assists with just 10 turnovers against the Hilltoppers.

Blue Raider Notes

  • Middle Tennessee won his 19thth direct home game.
  • The Blue Raiders’ 35-point winning margin was the widest in a conference opener since the 1986-87 season, when they defeated Tennessee Tech 114-79.
  • MTSU won its 12thth straight game played on a Tuesday, dating back to the 2015-16 season.
  • Tre Von Smiths 14 points was a career high.

Thoughts from the head coach Nick McDevitt

“I was really proud of our team. It was a damn good performance, really on both sides of the ball. And I thought we stayed firm and disciplined once we got a working lead in the game. You can tend to get really sloppy in those moments. Try to go for steals, try to go for blocks, make ill-advised shots. It may not cost you this game, but it may cost you the next. I was really happy with how tight we stayed together from start to finish.

“Terrific on the defensive end guarding the three-point line. They’ve got a lot of guys who can really shoot. They’ve made 70 three-pointers in two games. We were able to hold them down to just 14 tries with two. That’s really where we are were trapped at that end. Anytime you can assist nearly 70 percent of your baskets, 20 assists on 29 shots made, the ball moves.

player perspective – Eli Lawrence

“When we played on Saturday, the distance was a problem. So the last few days we’ve just been working on keeping the distance, really checking bodies and opening people up.


The Blue Raiders will tour again this weekend, heading to Missouri State for an out-of-conference matchup on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. on ESPN+ and the Blue Raider Radio Network.

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