There are hot teams, and then there’s Middle Tennessee.
So far, the switch from the Sun Belt to Conference USA hasn’t bothered the Blue Raiders. They have won seven straight and find themselves in a three-way tie with LA Tech and UTEP atop the C-USA standings (9-2). The Charlotte 49ers have lost three straight and have averaged 61 points during that span.
Good thing games aren’t won on paper, right? Here’s three things you need to know before tonight’s 7pm tilt:
–The Blue Raiders are fifth in the league with an average of 73.9 points an outing. Transfer that to league-only play, and that drops to 71.2, good for sixth. But their true strengths lie in their defense (61,8 points allowed in C-USA games, first; 4.55 blocks per game, second; eight steals a game, also second) and shooting (47.0%, second in league play).
–Shawn Jones leads the way for Middle Tennessee. He averages 15.0 points a game in overall games (eighth), but that rises to 16.4 a contest in C-USA matchups (T-3rd). His 8.2 rebounds puts him .6 behind Charlotte’s Willie Clayton for fourth.
–We’re also interested to see who comes out on top among the two point guards, Tweety Knight and Pierria Henry, . Going into this one, Henry holds the edge in assists per game, but Knight comes out ahead in steals per game.