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November 20, 2012Tweet Follow @GoMiddle Follow @Derrick_Griggs
Tuesday night will mark the end of a tough road trip for the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (2-1) as they travel south once more to the Sunshine State of Florida to take on the undefeated University of Central Florida Knights (3-0). The Blue Raiders will be looking hand the Knights their first loss of the season after MT suffered their first loss just one day ago at the hands of Florida. Tipoff is set for 6:00 PM.
For as bad as the offense has been, the Blue Raiders have been pretty stellar on defense - only allowing an average of 61 points and 44 percent shooting over the last two games. Defense is a big reason why this team was able to compete against Florida early and edge out a good Savannah State team.
However, MT's physical style of play has landed them in some foul trouble, and they will have to improve as they have committed 24 in each of the last two games. This is a double edged sword - it allows teams to get to the free throw line for easy points while also forcing head coach Kermit Davis to sit players for extended time due to foul trouble. This can also be pointed to as a reason for the offensive struggles - players are being forced to sit which could be directly impacting their offensive performance.
When it comes to Central Florida, their offense has scored an average of 71 points in the last two games while shooting 49 percent from the field - a vast improvement from the 32 percent they shot in their season opener. The team might be a good shooting team, but they have been terrible at the charity stripe, connecting on only 60 percent from the line in their last two games.
While the Blue Raiders are good on defense, the Knights might be even better as they have only gave up an average of 53 points in their last two games while holding teams to an average of 39 percent shooting. A big contributor to their stellar defense is their ability to contest shots, which has led to an average of six blocked shots per game. The Knights also like to control the boards - over the last two games they have grabbed a total of 64 rebounds.
It will be interesting to see if the Blue Raiders can find their shooting stroke early to make the defense's life easier on the other end of the court. If Middle Tennessee can find their shooting stroke early in this game, they will have a good chance at getting their third win on the young season. However, if MT suffers another slow start, this one may get away from them before too long.
G Marcos Knight - Coming off a 12 point, five rebound performance against Florida. Has been the Blue Raiders best scoring option in the last two games with an average of 17 points, even though he has been coming off the bench. He is also second on the team in rebounding - averaging almost six boards a game.
G Isaiah Sykes - An exciting player to watch, Sykes put up 14 points, five rebounds, and nabbed two steals against Savannah State. Sykes is the go to player for the Knights. He leads the team in scoring and assists with averages of 21 points and five assists per game. He is also second on the team in rebounds, averaging almost seven a game.
The shooting woes of Middle Tennessee will likely continue against the Knights due to UCF's outstanding defensive prowess, but the output should be better than the Blue Raiders previous outing. Look for Marcos Knight and JT Sulton to pace the way for the Blue Raiders, while others struggle to find a rhythm.
The game will be very physical and could very well come down to who can hit the most free throws at the end of the game - in that case I'd favor the Blue Raiders.
Middle Tennessee NEWS