Middle Tennessee Men's Basketball 2012 NIT Capsule

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Sun Belt (25-6, 14-2)

Middle Tennessee has had a lot of success in the Sun Belt conference, but this is a team with a history of starting off very slow in non-conference play. It became apparent very early that this group of Blue Raiders was different. They began by beating Loyola Marymount and UCLA on a west coast road swing. They went on to defeat Akron, Belmont and Mississippi. That paved the way for Coach Kermit Davis and company to dominate the Sun Belt.

Big Wins: 12/4 Akron (77-53), 12/13 Belmont (65-62), 12/21 vs Mississippi (68-56)
Bad Losses: 12/7 at UAB (56-66), 2/4 at Denver (60-75), 3/4 vs Arkansas State (61-64)
Coach: Kermit Davis (10 seasons at Middle Tennessee)

Why They Can Surprise:
The Blue Raiders have one of the best field goal percentages in the nation. They are a frontcourt heavy team and have been extremely efficient on the offensive end. That is in large part due to Iowa State transfer LaRon Dendy. The 6-9 senior leads the team in scoring, rebounding and blocks and his play has opened up space on the perimeter for the rest of the team. However, the rest of the team does not shoot too often, but even fellow interior scores like JT Sulton and Shawn Jones benefit from Dendy’s dominance in the paint. Sulton and Jones, like Dendy, shoot over 50 percent from the floor. Jones will not do too much scoring, but he can knock down the mid-range jumper and does a lot on the defensive end. Sulton is a much more effective scorer and can even hang with Dendy in the scoring column. Point guard Bruce Massey has done a great job running the show after heading to Murfreesboro from the junior college ranks. He will keep the turnovers down and almost always finds a way to get the ball into the big guys.

Why They Can Disappoint:
As a team it is much easier to shoot a high percentage when you do not take many three-pointers. This team ranks near by the bottom of the NCAA in three-pointers made per contest. That has not bothered the Blue Raiders too much since they are usually ahead and do not need to start hoisting up a lot of long balls. Raymond Cintron, who has moved into the sixth man role, is the most prolific outside shooter on the team and he can consistently knock them down and provide a nice spark off of the bench. Kerry Hammonds is a capable shooter as well. Yet, this is a bad shooting team. They are awful at free-throws and do not have a lot of options on the perimeter. Marcos Knight is a great scorer, but the 6-2 guard is not much of a shooter. When Middle Tennessee runs into a team that finds a way to stop the big guys in the paint and the slashers on the wing, they will be in big trouble.

Probable Starters:
Bruce Massey, Junior, Guard, 5.5 ppg, 3.9 apg
Marcos Knight, Junior, Guard, 11.8 ppg, 2.8 apg, 5.1 rpg
Raymond Cintron, Junior, Guard, 8.2 ppg, 1.1 apg
JT Sulton, Junior, Forward, 10.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg
LaRon Dendy, Senior, Forward, 14.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg

Key Roleplayers:
James Gallman, Junior, Guard, 3.8 ppg
Kerry Hammonds, Sophomore, Guard, 4.8 ppg, 1.9 apg
Jason Jones, Junior, Forward, 5.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Shawn Jones, Sophomore, Forward, 7.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.1 bpg
Jimmy Oden, Senior, Guard, 1.5 ppg, 1.4 apg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 80.6 (18th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.5 (46, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.6 (4, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.2 (24, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.9 (290, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: N/A
Free-Throw Percentage: 63.0 (313, 12)
Rebound Margin: 2.3 (104, 5)
Assists Per Game: 15.5 (26, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.9 (208, 7)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
Middle Tennessee    2010    CIT        First Round loss to Missouri State
Middle Tennessee    1989    NCAA     Round of 64 win over Florida State
Middle Tennessee    1989    NCAA     Round of 32 loss to Virginia
Middle Tennessee    1988    NIT        First round win over Tennessee
Middle Tennessee    1988    NIT        Second round win over Georgia
Middle Tennessee    1988    NIT        Quarterfinal loss to Boston College
Middle Tennessee    1987    NCAA     Round of 64 loss to Notre Dame
Middle Tennessee    1986    NIT        First Round loss to Clemson

*all team stats through 3/4

See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules