Belmont Holds Down Middle Tennessee

The raid was real from Middle Tennessee.

Despite a 20-2 second half run, the Belmont Bruins captured a 69-63 non-conference road win.

Right before the mid-section of the second half Belmont opened up a sizable 14-point lead thanks to Amanze Egekeze’s shooting (24 points, 6-9 3-pointers).

The Blue Raiders tried to impost some phsyicality.  Belmont really spread the floor well offensively and didn’t let the Raiders get bodies on them much.

Without Austin Luke on the floor, Kevin McClain made a mind-numbing decision to drive into three bodies.  His turnover begat a power layup by the Blue Raiders.

McClain followed that with a horrendous scoop layup.  Two tragic plays.

Head Coach Rick Byrd wisely re-inserted Luke.

Austin Luke returned and his choice was a desperate floater over a bouncy big.   To say it went over is…either ambitious or false.  It was tipped up and out of bounds.  Some would call Luke’s floater effort misguided.

Amanze Egekeze would not.

“I think those are some of the same drives that helped us seal the game on Monday (Vanderbilt),” said Egekeze.  “Even though we might not have finished the drives or maybe they turned it over I think that is a strength of our team.  Continue to be aggressive, especially in those tight game situations.”

“A lot of times when we are in that position we play not to lose,” said Egekeze.  “I actually like Kevin attacking the rim, Austin sometimes breaking people down late shotclock when we need a bucket.  I actually like when we put pressure on the defense a little bit, maybe draw a foul.”

Giddy Potts nailed a three off a baseline OB play.  Belmont trailed for the first time in the second half 54-52.  Another turnover by Belmont lead to a Blue Raider fastbreak.

When Brandon Walters hulked up for a layup with 8:02 to play Middle Tennessee held their largest lead of the game, 56-52.

It looked bleak, if only because the crowd was roaring and enthusiasm permeated the entire Blue Raider squad.

Middle Tennessee defense was buzzing late in the game.  Kevin McClain redeemed himself with a seemingly effortless slash.  He has the physical gifts to be a complete nightmare for mid-major defenders.  He just has to make smarter decisions consistently.

“A lot of times when we are in that position we play not to lose,” said Egekeze.  “I actually like Kevin attacking the rim, Austin sometimes breaking people down late shotclock when we need a bucket.  I actually like when we put pressure on the defense a little bit, maybe draw a foul.”

Fouls were hard to earn, as the officials encouraged very physical play.

Kevin McClain finally drew a foul, after getting bodied the whole night.

He hit both free throws.  Belmont hopped up 60-58 with 5:32 to play.  McClain finished with 14 points in his third start of the young season.

Next Egekeze hit a big three-pointer and Belmont closed out the back-t0-back Conference USA Champions on their home floor.

Middle Tennessee performed a largely ugly game.  There is no avoiding the issue.  The Blue Raiders rode the wave of enthusiasm to mount one big comeback each half, but overall they committed too many turnovers against a relatively passive Belmont backcourt.

Amanze Egekeze is averaging 23 ppg and 6 rpg this week

In all Middle Tennessee committed 12 turnovers and shot a smidgen over 40% for the night.

First Half

Amanze Egekeze paced all scorers with ten points on 3-7 shooting.  The senior dumped two triples for the Bruins.  In all the Bruins hit 5-12 before the break.

Austin Luke continues to struggle to score.  With three new starters this season, Luke’s passes are not finding scorers as often as a year ago.

The real accomplishment of the first frame was holding down Middle Tennessee to 10 made field goals.  A host shooting 38.5% from the field is not common and certainly exists as a recipe for disaster.

Nick King finished with 21 points in the loss.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply