Middle Tennessee dropped an 83-71 decision to Belmont Tuesday night as the Bruins used crisp offense to keep the Raiders at arm's length despite numerous MT threats.
GoMiddle.com breaks down three aspects of the game.
1) DEFENSE PICKED APART- The final stat sheet tells an ugly story for the Blue Raider defense. Belmont's precision offensive attack hit nearly 60 percent from the floor and 56 percent from 3-point range. The Bruins were nearly perfectly symmetrical in their attack. They hit 61.5 percent of their first half field goal attempts and 57.1 percent in the second half. Their halfcourt execution resulted in 16 assists of their 28 made baskets. In the final 10 minutes of the game, MT's defense only stopped Belmont on consecutive possessions one time. MT did do a good job forcing Belmont into 19 turnovers, but of the possessions that Belmont got a shot attempt, the Bruins made a basket on 52 percent of them. In MT's last two games against Belmont, the Bruins have hit 56 of 99 shot attempts.
2) THE BOOGIE FACTOR- Desmond Yates had a successful debut performance in the scoring column after missing the first eight games recovering from preseason knee surgery. Yates poured in 20 pounts on 9 of 17 shooting to the lead the team. The senior played with a brace on his knee, but he said after the game that he hopes he will only have to wear it temporarily. Yates did some impressive things, but it was clear at times that he was trying to chip some rust off. He missed a couple of late shots that normally go down for him and he didn't seem to be moving very fluidly on the defensive end for much of the night. He pulled down four rebounds in 25 minutes, a ratio that the coaching staff would like to see a little higher. Yates' return is a boost for the offense, but the Raiders can't count on him to single handedly carry them through a dry spell yet. If it weren't for freshman guard James Gallman hitting 7 of 10 shots against Belmont, Yates would have been almost on his own offensively. Discounting Gallman and Yates, the rest of the team hit just 13 of 40 shot attempts.
3) ON THE SPOT: WASHINGTON AND EMANUEL- Junior guards James Washington and Rod Emanuel are slumping. The two combined for just six points and hit just 2 of 16 shots together against Belmont. Though Emanuel hit three 3-pointers in four attempts at UAB last week, he is still just 9 of 26 from the floor in his last five games with a significantly negative assist-to-turnover ratio. Washington has hit just 6 of 29 shot attempts in his last three games, though he has managed a very good assist-to-turnover ratio during that span. Washington's shot selection was inconsistent against Belmont, but even his good looks didn't find the net. Gallman's 18 point performance off the bench may very well earn him a start against Tennessee on Friday night at Sommet Center. His instant offense sparked MT to a big first half run and the Raiders grabbed the lead. His strong play definitely puts Washington and Emanuel on the spot over the next two days as the Blue Raiders prepare for the Vols.