NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senior Desmond Yates and junior James Washington guided the Blue Raiders on Friday night in a 75-54 loss to No. 9 Tennessee.
Yates and Washington combined for 37 of Middle Tennessee’s 54 points as Yates connected on 11 of 19 shots and Washington made six of 10 opportunities. After posting 15 in the first half to keep Middle Tennessee close Yates had nine points in the second half, ending the game with a team high 24.
Middle Tennessee took 17 three-pointers making just three for 17.6 percent from behind the arc. The Blue Raiders shot 36.4 percent from the field after going 20 for 55 but held Tennessee to 50 percent shooting as it went 27 for 54.
“Our overall effort was really good. We ended the first half on a seven nothing run and had our opportunities in the second half,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “We got great looks all night had some guys we really depended on to make shots miss them, but we asked them to keep shooting it. We’re going to be fine, we’re just disappointed. Our guys came into the game expecting to win.”
Each team pulled down 36 rebounds in the game with the Blue Raiders getting more offensive rebounds with 14. Senior Calvin O’Neil led the team with six while junior Trevor Ottley and freshman J.T. Sulton each had five rebounds.
Sulton also added eight points after going 3 for 4 on the offensive side of the ball while Ottley aided the defense with three blocks.
Yates kept the Blue Raiders in the game early scoring their first 11 points of the game, keeping the team within two points, 13-11 with 14:20 on the clock.
Tennessee pulled ahead by 14-points, 34-20, after going on a 19-8 run but the Blue Raiders did not give up.
Middle Tennessee’s last 5 of 7 points at the end of the half were free throws by Washington cutting the lead to seven, 35-28. Middle Tennessee kept it within seven at the half after a jumper by Ottley.
At the half, Yates had 16 of Middle Tennessee’s 30 points with Washington adding eight. Yates was 7 for 12 at the half with three rebounds while Washington was 5 for 8 from the charity stripe.
To begin the second half, Tennessee went on a 7-2 run taking 44-32 lead with 14:58 remaining in the game.
The Blue Raiders went on a 9-5 run of their own to keep Tennessee’s lead within 12, 53-41. Tennessee kept the pace outscoring Middle Tennessee 7-1 to extend its lead to 18-points, 60-42, with 8:30 left in the game.
The Blue Raiders were scoreless except for four points by Yates, a field goal and two free throws for 4:45 seconds as the Volunteers continued to increase their lead. Yates scored six points over a three-minute period to keep Middle Tennessee in the game but the team trailed by 22 at the four-minute media timeout.
Middle Tennessee will be back in action on Sunday, Dec. 13 when it plays host to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at 4 p.m.