GAME NOTES: Middle Tennessee is hoping to recover from just its second home loss of the season, as the team is set to host the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners in a Conference USA duel on Saturday evening.
The Roadrunners have won three of their last five games, although they suffered a 78-65 setback against UAB in the opener of their three-game road trip. They are now 6-10 overall, with just one win in six tries away from home. They finish off the trek next Saturday against Texas-El Paso.
UTEP was the team that handed Middle Tennessee a 63-54 loss on its home floor on Thursday. The loss ended a three-game win streak for the Blue Raiders, who are 9-2 as hosts this season, part of an 11-6 overall effort. They will visit Tulsa in their next bout.
Both of these teams are new to C-USA and also new to one another, with Saturday's matchup the first ever between them.
Poor overall shooting doomed UTSA against UAB. The Roadrunners only connected on 32.4 percent of their field goal attempts, which wiped out the benefits of a 25-15 scoring advantage in second-chance points. Jordan Sims tallied a team- high 14 points to go with seven rebounds in the losing effort.
UTSA can rarely afford to shoot so inefficiently. The Roadrunners have allowed their opposition to shoot 47.7 percent from the field and score 78.6 ppg, which has outdone their own production (71.5 ppg, .443 FG percentage). Keon Lewis (15.2 ppg) is the team's leading scorer, although he has come off the bench six times, including the matchup with UAB. Lewis is joined in double figures by three other players, with Devon Agusi (11.8 ppg) the second option. Providing additional depth are Hyjii Thomas (11.4 ppg) and Sims (11.1 ppg), although none has made much impact on the boards, an area of weakness for the Roadrunners (34.3 rpg).
Middle Tennessee also let itself down in terms of shooting last time out, connecting on only 32.2 percent of its field goal attempts in the loss to UTEP. The Blue Raiders got 13 points from Neiko Hunter, who was the only player to score in double figures in the setback.
The Blue Raiders can often survive offensive stumbles due to their defensive pressure. They are letting up just 68.2 ppg on 42 percent shooting to their opponents. On the offensive side of things, they net 75.4 ppg and hit 45 percent from the floor. Hunter (13.5 ppg) is one of three players on the team averaging in double figures. Shawn Jones (14.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg) is the top contributor in that area, while also leading the team on the glass. However, he had only nine points on 4-of-11 shooting against UTEP. Kerry Hammonds (12.1 ppg) leads the team in minutes played (31.6 mpg), but he shoots just 36.4 percent from the floor.
Other than a few hiccups here and there, Middle Tennessee has been an impressive team at home this season. Expect the Blue Raiders to be more effective at the offensive end against the defensively-deficient Roadrunners, leading to a 10th win at the Murphy Center.
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