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February 5, 2009
Denver 63, MT 51: Inside the box
"(Denver) was certainly better than we were and they deserved to win the game."
MT took a 1-0 lead to open the game but Denver ran off nine straight points and were never seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Denver's three starting guards combined for 41 points as the Blue Raiders struggled to defend the Pioneers' deliberate Princeton style offense.
MT placed just two players in double figures and hit less than 60 percent of its free throws.
The Blue Raiders showed signs of a second half rally when they twice trimmed Denver's lead to six points with less than eight minutes remaining. When two Nigel Johnson free throws made it 51-45, the Pioneers responded with a 10-0 run in the next 3:30 to put the game fully out of reach.
F Montarrio Haddock: Finding standout Blue Raider performances is hard to do for this game, but Haddock deserves credit for handing out five assists without a single turnover in 20 minutes. He was also MT's leading rebounder.
G Kevin Kanaskie: Kanaskie's back injury didn't seem to affect him Thursday. He played 37 minutes and hit two of his five 3-point tries.
G Lindal Yarbrough-Davis turned to the walkon in the second in search of energy. Yarbrough provided that and earned postgame praise from his coach because of it. He scored a basket on a nice move to the rim.
Honorable Mention: Desmond Yates-Yates was disappointing for the most part but he did lead the team in scoring with a dozen points.
Season Star Count
Yates (33) Kanaskie (25) Green (23) Haddock (20) Johnson (13) O'Neil (7) Allen (1) Williams (1) Yarbrough (1) Avery (1)
FREE THROWS COSTLY
Middle Tennessee played poorly in nearly every facet of the game but the Blue Raiders still could have given themselves a chance to win if they had taken advantage of opportunities at the foul line.
MT got to the line 27 times but connected on just 16 shots for a miserable 59.3 percent.
The Raiders hit 8-of-13 in the first half and 8-of-14 in the second half.
There wasn't one culprit at the line.
Demetrius Green hit just five of his 10 attempts at the line. Desmond Yates hit just 2-of-4. The rest of the team hit 9-of-13.
MT's free throw shooting has been a hard to figure mystery this year. The Raiders shot 71 percent as a team from the line last year but that number has dipped to 69 percent this year.
Kevin Kanaskie is the only regular contributor from the last two seasons that has improved his free throw shooting from last year.
DENVER BACKCOURT RULES THE DAY
Denver's backcourt of Rob Lewis, Nate Rohnert, and Kyle Stafford controlled the entire game.
The Pioneer trio combined for 41 points, seven rebounds, and five steals while shooting 56 percent from the floor.
MT's more experienced backcourt combination of Kanaskie, Nigel Johnson, and Demetrius Green combined for 28 points but had 10 turnovers and only one steal.
Feb. 7: Middle Tennessee at Houston Baptist, 7 p.m.