Blue Raiders Spoil NT New Year's Eve
Mitchell Scores Double-Double In NYE Loss At MTSU
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – In a nationally televised battle of Sun Belt powers, Middle Tennessee raced out to an early lead and weathered North Texas’ comeback storm in a 75-57 New Year’s Eve wire-to-wire loss.
An ESPNU audience watched Tony Mitchell pick up his 14th career double-double with 13 points and 11 boards, but it wasn’t enough to help North Texas (5-9, 0-3 Sun Belt) overcome a 5-of-27 (18.5 percent) first-half shooting performance.
The Blue Raiders (11-3, 3-0 Sun Belt) were the preseason pick to top the SBC East Division after rolling to the league’s regular-season title in 2012. They were the definition of efficient with a 50-plus percent shooting in both halves and seven players with at least seven points.
Jordan Williams scored his third straight game in doubles figures with a team-best 15 points. Roger Franklin also reached double-figures with 11.
North Texas made just one of its first 15 shots, which helped dig the Mean Green into a 15-4 hole in the game’s first 10:30. NT’s five first-half field goals tied the UT Arlington loss of 2011 and the Kansas State loss in the 2010 NCAA Tournament for the fewest first-half field goals of the last four seasons.
Still, NT trailed by just 13 points at the half, which it would whittle down to six points after a furious rally in the early minutes of the second half.
It took the Mean Green the entire first half to score five field goals, but they equaled that effort after just 4:27 of the second half – a half that saw NT shoot 48.3 percent from the floor. A Mitchell layup with 18:05 on the second half clock narrowed the MTSU edge to 37-31.
But that would be as close as NT would come, as the Blue Raiders would eventually push their advantage to as much as 22 points with just over three minutes to play.
North Texas returns home to face Troy and ULM on Thursday and Saturday at the Super Pit this week. Both tipoffs are slated for 7 p.m.