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GAME THREAD: Middle Tennessee vs FAU - 01/14/12 @ 7:00PM

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GAME THREAD: Middle Tennessee vs FAU - 01/14/12 @ 7:00PM




What: Middle Tennessee (16-2, 5-0 SBC) vs FAU (6-11, 2-2 SBC)

When: Saturday, Jan. 14th @ 7:00 PM EST

Where: FAU Arena

TV: None

Live Video: None

Internet Broadcast: Here

Live Stats: Here

Blue Raiders Team Site: Here


Probable Starters:


MTSU

G Marcos Knight 12.4 ppg
G Bruce Massey 5.9 ppg
G Raymond Cintron 7.9 ppg
F JT Sulton 11.3 ppg
F LaRon Dendy 13.9 ppg


FAU

G Alex Tucker 4.4 ppg
G Shavar Richardson 4.2 ppg
G Greg Gantt 14.0 ppg
F Kelvin Penn 2.6 ppg
F Kore White 9.1 ppg


The series:

The Owls are playing catch-up against the Blue Raiders, who own a 4-7 mark in the 11 contest series.

12/21/05  N L 76-90
01/10/07  H L 68-72
02/24/07  A L 59-79
01/09/08  A L 57-61
02/23/08  H W 75-67
01/08/09  A L 57-59
02/21/09  H L 68-74
01/16/10  A W 61-60
02/27/10  H L 57-66
01/13/11  A W 71-61
01/27/11  H W 62-51

Last time out, Florida Atlantic tied a program best eight wins straight - both in and out of conference - behind a 63-51 win at FAU Arena. Ray Taylor had 21 points, 5 steals, and 4 rebounds in a defensive battle from start to finish. The Owls however shot a paltry 18.2% from downtown. The Owls swept the Blue Raiders in 2010-11.


MTSU at a Glance:

Currently ranked #7 in the College Insider Mid Major Top 25, and having won eight games in a row, the Blue Raiders are off to their most successful start in 37 seasons. Of course having the conference's best offensive squad (73.7 ppg) helps in that endeavor, as does the being the stingiest FG percentage defensive unit (38.6%).

Middle Tennessee's 49.1% FG rate is good for the nod at 13th nationally.

On Thursday night MTSU trailed 29-26 at the half to Florida International in Miami, but caught stride in the second frame en route to a 70-59 victory. The win completed a 2-0 sweep over FIU for 2011-12, as the Blue Raiders also came away victorious 71-66 back on December 29th at the Murphy Center.

In a quality 86-66 road win against national power UCLA earlier in the season, the Blue Raiders knocked down 90.1% (10-of-11) of their attempts from downtown. The performance tied for the fourth-best performance in NCAA history (minimum of 10 attempts), and also set both Sun Belt and school records in the process. However, they have since gone cold to the tune of 20.0% (4-of-20, Troy) 9.1% (1-of-11, ULL), and 23.1% (3-of-13) against FIU.

But they do make up for it handsomely in their gritty style of play; especially in the front court.

Anchoring the paint is possible Sun Belt 1st Team candidate LaRon Dendy (13.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg). Dendy sits 7th in the league overall in scoring and 4th in grabs. And he has a very capable accomplice along side him in JT Sulton, who is second on the squad with 11.3 ppg, and 6.0 rpg.

The Blue Raiders were picked to finish second in the Eastern Division in the league's 2011-12 preseason poll, with Jason Jones earning 2nd Team All Sun Belt honors.

James Gallman and Sulton posted six and four points respectively in the last contest versus Florida Atlantic.


FAU at a Glance:

Despite dropping two games in league action, the Owls still have a strong chance at living up to the mark of preseason favorites in the Sun Belt. That is, provided they take care of business at hand, beginning with the Blue Raiders.

"You better win most of your games at home if you're going to have a really good year", said FAU Coach Mike Jarvis. "Middle Tennessee, those guys play so hard, they're always tough."

Fresh off a 58-50 win over Western Division favorite Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic is allowing just 43.3 ppg and a league best 33.1% shooting in Sun Belt play on the year.

The move to a zone set defensively against the Red Wolves proved very effective in the second half on Monday night, with the Owls shutting down ASU's outside game (1-of-8) in the frame. The team tallied a season best 12 steals in the victory, prompting Jarvis to offer that he will likely tap the well again at strategic points in the contest Saturday in order to disrupt the Blue Raider's offensive flow.

Ray Taylor, who suffered a head injury last weekend during practice and was experiencing concussion like symptoms, is listed as questionable for the tilt although Jarvis is hopeful he will garner some time on the floor.

"I am optimistic that Ray Taylor will play tomorrow night, and am looking forward to his return", Jarvis said on Friday.

Should he not make it back in, Alex Tucker will once again see significant time running the Owls' offense. Good timing should that be the case, as Tucker exploded for 16 points, and seven assists last Monday in a season high 36 minutes of action.

"Alex Tucker did an incredible job…really had to play the point guard position all by himself", Jarvis said on the ESPN760 post game show.

Already past the midpoint of the 2011-12 schedule, Florida Atlantic will play at home for just the 6th time this season. The Owls are 4-1 at FAU Arena when including November 8th's 64-53 win over Lynn University in exhibition action.


Latest Line:

MTSU -3


Owl's Nest Prediction

FAU will have it's hands full against the Blue Raider's front court on Saturday. But with a new found nose for on-ball pressure, they should keep matters interesting.

Keys to the game will be limiting the entry pass, and cleaning up on the glass. Transition offense is also a must to take the Blue Raider's half court defense out of the equation. If the Owls go cold, this one could slip away quickly.

On paper within The Four Factors, it comes down to a MTSU win. However, the sixth man should be back in effect at FAU Arena and that adds a few more points Florida Atlantic's way. The Burrow arguably offers the best home court advantage in the league per square inch.

Taking the Owls in a nail biter.

FAU -1
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Re: Game Preview: Middle Tennessee vs FAU - 01/14/12 @ 7:00PM

Since this is the team that is having the season we were supposed to have, Coach J will have them up for this one for sure.  Whether we win or not is a different story.  If we can be physical down low, we have a great shot.

FAU Class of '87
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Re: GAME THREAD: Middle Tennessee vs FAU - 01/14/12 @ 7:00PM

Looks like there is going to be a nice contingency of students on hand tonight at FAU Arena...
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Re: GAME THREAD: Middle Tennessee vs FAU - 01/14/12 @ 7:00PM

Taylor is shooting around by himself...not dressed though, and not looking like he will make it in.
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Re: GAME THREAD: Middle Tennessee vs FAU - 01/14/12 @ 7:00PM

Waiting in line to get tix and they said Ticketmaster is down state-wide and also that all GA tix are sold out. There's a ton of kids around so I'm guessing that has something to do with it.
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Re: GAME THREAD: Middle Tennessee vs FAU - 01/14/12 @ 7:00PM

Starters:


MTSU

G Marcos Knight
G Bruce Massey
G Raymond Cintron
F JT Sulton
F LaRon Dendy


FAU

G Alex Tucker
G Shavar Richardson
G Greg Gantt
F Kelvin Penn
F Kore White
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Re: GAME THREAD: Middle Tennessee vs FAU - 01/14/12 @ 7:00PM

FAUfasho said

Waiting in line to get tix and they said Ticketmaster is down state-wide and also that all GA tix are sold out. There's a ton of kids around so I'm guessing that has something to do with it.

Yeah, and the student section is looking pretty healthy…

The other side, well…….

Still got 10:00 before tip, so let's Hope it fills in!

;D
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Re: GAME THREAD: Middle Tennessee vs FAU - 01/14/12 @ 7:00PM

And, we're underway…

Owls control the tip…
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Re: GAME THREAD: Middle Tennessee vs FAU - 01/14/12 @ 7:00PM

Three trips, 0 points for FAU...2 misses, one TO...
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Re: GAME THREAD: Middle Tennessee vs FAU - 01/14/12 @ 7:00PM

18:18

Blur Raiders strike first blood…

MTSU 2 FAU 0

Owls commit their 2nd TO.
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