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February 7, 2009
MT 89, HBU 77: Inside the box
"We had some players step up and play well in this game and they had to because Houston Baptist played well."
The Blue Raiders beat the Huskies for the second time this year and did so with a very efficient offensive performance.
Desmond Yates' career high 32 points and Demetrius Green's 22 points keyed the MT outburst on the offensive end.
HBU held as much as a five point lead in the first half but the Blue Raiders took a 41-38 lead at halftime and slowly extended that margin into double digits in the second half.
MT led the entire second half but the Huskies stayed within striking distance until Kevin Kanaskie hit consecutive 3-pointers with about six minutes remaining to take what was a 73-69 lead and turn it into a 79-69 advantage. A Desmond Yates basket followed to give MT a 8-0 run and an 81-69 lead. HBU never seriously threatened in the final minutes.
F Desmond Yates: Yates played arguably his best offensive game of the year with 32 points on just 18 shots. Yates stayed on the floor for nearly all 40 minutes and was fairly active on the glass with three offensive rebounds.
G Demetrius Green: Green bounced back from a bad game at Denver with a near career high 22 points. Perhaps more impressive was his work on the boards. Green had eight total rebounds, including four offensive caroms.
G Nigel Johnson-Johnson played with good energy on both ends, evidenced by his 13 points and five steals. He could have scored more if not for some struggles finishing drives to the rim.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Kanaskie-Kanaskie hit the two big 3-pointers late and added two more assists to his all time school record.
Season Star Count
Yates (36) Kanaskie (25) Green (25) Haddock (20) Johnson (14) O'Neil (7) Allen (1) Williams (1) Yarbrough (1) Avery (1)
Middle Tennessee head coach Kermit Davis in his postgame radio interview that Demetrius Green approached him after Thursday's loss to Denver to say that he would not allow himself another performance like what he showed in the 12 point loss to the Pioneers.
After lacking energy on Thursday, Green came back with his best effort of the year.
The senior guard attacked the boards to rebound the ball, took great shots from the floor and offered the kind of quality performance MT will need more of in order for the Blue Raiders to get where they want to go.
Green missed the earlier meeting with Houston Baptist while serving the final game of a four game suspension.
It wasn't just Green bouncing back though.
MT's senior trio of Green, Johnson, and Kanaskie had tremendous combined output against the Huskies.
The three veterans combined for 45 points, nine assists, and six steals.
DID THE ROAD WIN COME AT RIGHT TIME?
MT's win at Houston Baptist does nothing for the Blue Raiders in the Sun Belt standings, at least not directly.
Indirectly, it may help them fare better in this week's huge clash at Troy.
After suffering heartbreaking Sun Belt road setbacks to Western Kentucky, Arkansas-Little Rock, New Orleans, and Denver in their last four league road games, MT needed to regain some road confidence before heading to Troy.
For the Blue Raiders to be able to maintain realistic league championship and first round conference tournament bye hopes, a win against the Trojans is imperative.
Had the Raiders stumbled Saturday at HBU, it would be very reasonable to question their current road psyche. With the win over the Huskies, MT now has a chance to regain some confidence away from Murphy Center.
Feb. 12: Middle Tennessee at Troy, 7 p.m.