Last night in Sun Belt Basketball
MIDDLE TENNESSEE 71, TROY 58
In Murfreesboro, Raymond Cintron and LaRon Dendy each scored 17 points as Middle Tennessee won their twelfth straight game, defeating Troy for the second time this season.
The Blue Raiders, now 20-2 and 9-0 in the Sun Belt reached a couple of milestones last night. The 20 wins are the first time MT has reached that number in 21 seasons. And, the 9-0 conference start matches the best in school history (1974-75).
Will Weathers had a game-high 22 points for Troy (7-12, 2-6). Justin Wright added 13. Troy shot 46 percent for the game, but only 27 percent from three point range, leading Trojans Head Coach Don Maestri to remark “no one’s going to guard us any better, unless it’s an octopus.”
Middle Tennessee puts its winning streak on the line Saturday, stepping out of conference to take on Vanderbilt. The Raiders already have one SEC win this year, defeating Ole Miss in December.
UALR 75, SOUTH ALABAMA 50
In Little Rock, Arkansas-Little Rock made a season-high 10 three pointers and rolled to a 75-50 win over South Alabama. Senior D’Andre Williams led three Trojans in double figures with 14 points. Chuck Guy added ten assists.
UALR jumped out to a 20-9 lead and led 35-22 at the half. The Trojans (9-13, 6-2 Sun Belt) then went on a 17-4 run to start the second half and were never threatened.
Augustine Rubit led South Alabama (10-9, 2-6) with 22 points, the only Jaguar to score in double figures.
The Trojans, who were outrebounded badly in their loss to Louisiana last Saturday, held serve against the best rebounding team in the Sun Belt, with that statistic even at 30 apiece. UALR had just seven turnovers on the night. South Alabama had eighteen.
The Trojans entertain Denver in a battle for first place in the Western Division Saturday night at the Stephens Center.
DENVER 66, ARKANSAS STATE 52
Forward Chris Udofia tied a career high with 21 points as Denver rolled past Arkansas State 66-52, before an announced crowd of 7,075, the third largest crowd in Magness Arena history.
Brian Stafford added fifteen points for the Pioneers (16-5, 6-2 Sun Belt), who kept pace with Arkansas-Little Rock for first place in the Western Division.
Arkansas State led by one late in the first half, when the Pioneers had a rare eight point possession. A flagrant foul was called away from the ball against the Red Wolves (9-13, 3-5) as Brian Stafford nailed a three pointer. Senior Justin Coughlin nailed both free throws and freshman Brett Olson hit another three on the ensuing possession to give Denver a 28-21 lead. The Pioneers led by as many as 20 in the second half.
Malcolm Kirkland led the way for ASU with 19 points and seven rebounds.
Denver’s 16-5 record is their best start as a Divison I program.
FAU 67, WESTERN KENTUCKY 66
In Boca Raton, Florida Atlantic scored 12 of the games final 14 points in a little over four minutes to get the come from behind win over WKU, the Owls first home win over the Hilltoppers.
Jordan McCoy’s layup with ten second left was the game winner as the Owls (9-12, 5-3 Sun Belt) capped the furious rally.
WKU ralled from nine points down to take a nine point lead before the Owls roared back. WKU held preseason first team all-conference players Raymond Taylor and Greg Gantt to a combined 12 points on 4-16 shooting, but senior Shavar Richardson picked up the slack, scoring a game-high 25 points. Richardson hit 10-15 field goal attempts.
Derrick Gordon led WKU (6-15, 2-6 SBC) had sixteen points to lead the Hilltoppers. Freshman George Fant added 13. WKU turned the ball over four times in the final four minutes, allowing the Owls to come back. WKU did not hit a field goal in the last 4:11 of the contest. FAU had 21 points off WKU turnovers in the game.
(Info from Sports Information Departments around the league contributed to this story.)
Arkansas State at North Texas (12 noon), Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt (1:00pm), Louisiana at Louisiana-Monroe (4:00pm), WKU at FIU (6:30pm), Denver at UALR (7pm). Sunday: Troy at South Alabama