MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Shawn Jones had 15 points and Middle Tennessee bounced back from its first loss in eleven games to lead wire-to-wire in a 65-41 blowout of Rice on Saturday.
Middle Tennessee (22-8, 12-3 Conference USA) opened the game with an 11-3 run, led 33-19 at halftime and extended to 63-38 for their largest lead.
Kerry Hammonds II had 14 points and six rebounds, and Neiko Hunter had 12 points and seven rebounds. The Blue Raiders broke the game open with 13 straight points in the early part of the second half to go ahead 49-25 on Tavarres Jefferson's 3-pointer with 10:30 left.
The win moved Middle Tennessee alone into first place in the conference. But Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech and Tulsa play Sunday, each with a chance to pull even in the standings with the Raiders.
Ross Wilson had eight points and seven rebounds, leading Rice (7-21, 2-13) in both categories.
No. 23 Middle Tennessee rallies to beat UAB 68-58
The Lady Raider’s Ebony Rowe, kept in check most of the game, scored nine-straight points in a late 12-0 run and finished with 22 as No. 23 Middle Tennessee rallied to defeat Alabama-Birmingham 68-58 on Saturday.
Their seventh-straight win gave the Blue Riders (25-4, 14-1) their sixth-straight Conference USA title outright. KeKe Stewart added 15 points and Shanice Cason 12.
Behind Karisma Chapman, the Blazers (15-12, 7-7) led until Rowe took over. Chapman had 15 points and 13 rebounds but her only bucket of the second half came with 14:05 to play. Chelsee Black led UAB with 16 points.
Middle Tennessee, down by 11 with 11:30 to play, was behind 53-49 at the 4:33 mark before the critical surge. Rowe had a three-point play, two free throws and two layups with Cason capping the run with a 3 with 1:35 left.
The Blue Raiders needed the hot finish to shoot 41 percent.