MTSU – 74
UAB – 73
MURFREESBORO Tenn. – The Blue Raiders welcomed conference foe, UAB, to The Glass House Monday night looking to improve their conference record to 4-3 and their overall record to 11-7, as well as revenge for the last meeting between these two teams in last year’s Conference USA tournament in which Middle was sent home after three overtimes. UAB came into the game scoring 85 points per game to MTSU’s 70, but so far, The Blue Raiders had only allowed 65 points on average. Something was going to have to give.
The game was back and forth immediately with both teams setting the tone for how physical this matchup was going to be by going right at each other full speed ahead. By the first media timeout, UAB had a 7-5 lead neither team had established a glaring advantage as both squads were stifling the others offense with physical defense. However, Trey Jemison had made his 6-11 presence felt on the offensive glass with five of UAB’s seven points. Coming out of the timeout, Cam Weston got to the free throw line and found his rhythm, scoring the next six points for Middle.
As we reached the 8:00 mark neither team had built more than a four-point lead as the momentum rocked back and forth with eight lead changes. It seemed like every play inched closer to the breaking point where one team would go on a run. UAB continued to live on the offensive glass, leading Middle in offensive rebounds 8-1. At 5:36 to go In the first UAB grew their lead to the largest by either team at seven points, but in the spirit of the way the game had gone so far Middle was able to take the lead back 31-28 with 1:46 left in the first half. Shortly after, UAB found points at the charity stripe and tied it all up at 31. After a barrage of shots from The Blazers and a near coast-to-coast layup by Jestin Porter, both teams made their way to the locker room tied at 31.
Limiting UAB on the offensive glass was going to be key for Middle in the second half. In the first half The Blazers led The Blue Raiders on offensive rebounds 15-5. Luckily for MTSU that only resulted in nine second chance points but playing with fire against The Blazers doesn’t sound like a great idea. After a rough first half of shooting, Middle started off the second half shooting 8-13 for 17 points, forcing The Blazers to call a timeout after falling behind 48-43 in a hurry. At the 7:18 media break UAB had cut the lead but were still down 52-54. Middle was able to stay in control and grow the lead to 59-54 at 5:49 after a huge three pointer by Justin Bufford.
The last five minutes were going to be a battle of wills. Both teams were gassed. They had been in a war of a basketball game. It had been physical and fast paced all night. Which team was going to overcome the fatigue and take control down the stretch? UAB was able to claw their way back into the game, cutting Middle’s lead to one point with1:35 to play. Right when The Blue Raiders needed a big play Deandre Dishman hit a three to extend the lead to 66-62. With just 56 seconds to play and The Blazers needing a basket a controversial foul was called to give UAB two free throws. Jemison converted both making it a one possession game. Middle ran as much clock as they could and called timeout. The Raiders could end it here. The ball was inbounded and Middle got a look close to the rim but came away with no points. UAB rebounded and called a timeout of their own. you can watch the next play below.
It seemed MTSU had survived until another foul was called on Middle on the inbounds pass, giving UAB a chance to tie it at the line. The Blazers did tie the game, and now middle had a chance to win at the buzzer. You can watch that play below.
Close, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. We were headed to overtime. Could we see another triple overtime thriller? UAB took an early five-point lead with their first two possessions. It was going to be up to MTSU to respond. After finding some points at the fee throw line and a couple of gutsy defensive efforts, Cam Weston darted through the Blazer defense and put MTSU within one with 1:15 to go. UAB extended the lead back to three and once again in the clutch Dishman stepped up with a dunk. After another empty possession for The Blazers, Coach McDevitt called a timeout with his Raiders down by one with 29 seconds to go. The ball went to Dishman, and he earned a trip to the line. Tied with the first, led with the second. UAB down one, called timeout with seven seconds to go. You can watch the final play below.
To the monitor we go. Did he get it off in time?
No! MTSU survives a thriller in The Glass House 74-73
Trey Jemison led all scorers with 18, while Deandre Dishman led MTSU with 15. Jemison led all players with 11 rebounds, and Dishman led MTSU with 8. Eli Lawrence led all players with 5 assists, and Tony Toney led UAB with 3.
This is what Head Coach, Nick McDevitt, had to say post game:
The Blue Raiders’ next game is against Charlotte, at home, at 6:00pm on Thursday.