MTSU continues winning ways over SEC, beats Vanderbilt 71-48
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) Beating Southeastern Conference teams has almost become routine for Middle Tennessee.
Giddy Potts scored a season-high 27 points and MTSU won its third straight over an SEC opponent with a 71-48 win over Vanderbilt on Thursday night.
MTSU (9-1) has won seven of its last 12 against the SEC, including a 77-62 win at Ole Miss on Nov. 30.
''I think the culture of our program is about toughness,'' MTSU coach Kermit Davis said. ''Not in an arrogant way at all, but I talk to our team a lot about trying to become a national program and we've been doing that for the last three or four or five years, and I think they look forward to these games.''
Middle Tennessee earned national attention with an upset of Michigan State in last season's NCAA tournament.
Potts made four 3-pointers and grabbed nine rebounds in the Blue Raiders' seventh straight win.
''We just came out and played our game and really locked up on defense,'' Potts said. ''We played really hard on both sides of the ball.''
MTSU's Reggie Upshaw added 14 points, six rebounds and five assists going against 7-foot-1 Luke Kornet.
''That's probably the biggest person I've ever played against or one of them,'' said Upshaw, shaking his head. ''All week in practice coach Davis just kept telling us that he kind of struggles if you get him off his sweet spot and if you don't let him catch the ball too deep in the post.''
The Blue Raiders, ranked fifth in the RPI ratings, are off to their fourth-best start in school history and the best since opening 12-1 in 1980-81.
Arkansas transfer JaCorey Williams had 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
Matthew Fisher-Davis led Vanderbilt (5-5) with 13 points and Jeff Roberson scored 11.
The Commodores struggled offensively, hitting 32 percent from the floor on 17-of-53 shooting while being held to a season low in points against MTSU's 1-3-1 zone defense.
''We never really got that stretch in the second half where we could string together a couple of stops and a couple scores to ever get it close,'' Commodores coach Bryce Drew said. ''And credit them. They continued to play good defense and continued to attack the rim on the other side.''
Two nights after breaking a school record with 19 3-pointers in a win over High Point, Vanderbilt made 5 of 19 from beyond the arc.
MTSU went 7 of 24 from 3-point range.
''It's frustrating,'' Roberson said. ''We knew (for them to be) playing a home game they'd be making a lot of runs and stuff and it was on us to bounce back and we never really did that.''
Vanderbilt: Still searching for consistency during the Commodores' up-and-down start.
Middle Tennessee: The Blue Raiders' only blemish is a 74-63 loss to Tennessee State on Nov. 19 and Williams has given the team a big lift.
Vanderbilt's first-year coach Bryce Drew, a former Valparaiso coach, seemed surprised to inherit a road game at MTSU. ''I can tell you up North schedules like this don't happen very often,'' Drew said. ''Nobody would ever come into our gym in Valpo, never a Big 10 team. So this is a great treat for Middle Tennessee to get an SEC team in their building and credit them, they took full advantage of it and played a great game.''
Vanderbilt trailed by eight early in the second half when Middle Tennessee made an 18-6 run to stretch its lead to 51-31 on Upshaw's exclamation-point dunk with 12:52 left. The Commodores never got closer than 18 the rest of the way.
Vanderbilt takes a nine-day break before hosting Chattanooga on Dec. 17.
Middle Tennessee visits Belmont, another Nashville team, on Wednesday before traveling to VCU on Dec. 17.
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|Min. Per Game|
|Pts. Per Game|
|Ast. Per Game|
|Reb. Per Game|
|Field Goal %|
|Three Point %|
|Free Throw %|
|Defensive rebound by Brandon Walters||2.0|
|Field Goals||17-53 (32.1%)||28-61 (45.9%)|
|3-Pointers||5-19 (26.3%)||7-24 (29.2%)|
|Free Throws||9-13 (69.2%)||8-13 (61.5%)|