Middle Tennessee State Hosts South Alabama Looking for 13th Straight Win

By Ryan Darcy
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Harlem Shake is finally making its way to Murfreesboro tonight as the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders host the South Alabama Jaguars in a Sun Belt Conference matchup.

The Blue Raiders (15-1 Sun Belt) have won 12 consecutive games and come in with a 23-4 record while the Jags (15-9, 12-4 Sun Belt) are on their own winning streak–albeit much shorter–of four games.

USA is hoping to rain on the party as they enter the game as one of the best in the country at getting to the free throw line (24th in FTM, 25th in FTA) and are extremely reliant on points from the stripe. Over 25 percent (4th in Division I) of their points come at the stripe, so MTSU needs to correct their habit of fouling. The Blue Raiders are 20th in the country in fouls per game, with 20.1.

The Jags are led by Augustine Rubit‘s 19.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Last time these teams met (a 60-56 win for the Blue Raiders), Rubit pulled down 14 boards and scored 10 points. South Alabama mounted a furious charge in the final four minutes by ending the game on a 9-2 run, but couldn’t get the win.

For the Blue Raiders, an up-tempo offense is what they thrive on. Ten different players average at least 10 minutes a game, so fresh legs are always an option for head coach Kermit Davis. Another advantage the Blue Raiders have is the ability to spread the ball around–their leading scorer (Marcos Knight) averages only 12.7 ppg, the only player in double-figures.

Guard Raymond Cintron is also key in this one, as Middle Tennessee relies on him for a spark off the bench. Cintron has averaged 13.4 ppg over the past five games and has made 4 or more threes in three of them. For the season, he’s shooting 43.3% from deep.

It’ll be a tall order for the Jags to come in and interrupt the Blue Raiders winning streaks (they’re also 13-0 at home). The Murphy Center will be rocking all night in the second-t0-last home game of the season in front of the Blue Zoo. Not only will the Harlem Shake be performed, but it’s also beach bash night. I’ll never go against the USA, but tonight, USA is in trouble.

Party time in Murfreesboro.


Follow Ryan Darcy on Twitter: @Ryan_D_Rants

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