Blue Raiders split Florida trip

Blue Raiders split Florida trip

You hear that sound? That's the sound of a deep sigh of relief coming from Blue Raider fans. After two very sloppy road outings against MEAC favorite Savannah State and the 10th ranked Florida Gators, Tuesday night, Kermit Davis' team played the way we expected to see them perform this season.

Not only did the Blue Raiders snap UCF's 22 game non-conference winning streak, but they added a solid win to their NCAA Tournament resume. The team we saw last night looked like a completely different group than the one that played the two previous games. This could be a trend we'll see for the rest of the season for teams to have a shot at beating the Blue Raiders. Here's three glaring stats that will make the difference for Middle going forward.

Numbers of Players Scoring Double Digits
Against UCF, the Blue Raiders had five players score in double digits (Shawn Jones, Neiko Hunter, James Gallman, Marcos Knight, Raymond Cintron), that's 2 more than in the previous two games combined. Middle Tennessee doesn't have a go-to scoring threat that they can count on for 20 or more points a game. Plus, when you consider the deep rotation they run, it will be difficult to count on any one player consistently taking over a game. This team is at its best when there are multiple players on the court who can knock down shots, and that was the case against UCF.

Shooting 15+ Three-Pointers
You've always heard, "You live by the 3, and die by the three". In Middle's case, this is definitely true. Against Savannah State, the Blue Raiders only attempted 2 shots from behind the arc, but in their impressive performance against UCF they shot 17. This team is built around driving into the basket, and dishing to spot up shooters. If the Blue Raiders are getting open looks from the outside, they'll have a tough time putting up points because they don't have an imposing inside threat to consistently keep teams honest.

Finishing +5 In Turnovers
This one seems like a simple guideline for any sport, but especially the way this team is built. The Blue Raiders must force teams to turn the ball over, and more importantly, they have to take care of the ball. Through four games this season, Middle is averaging a decent 12 turnovers a game. While that stat isn't too bad, 33 of the Blue Raiders' 48 turnovers came in two games. With the measured possession game that this team plays, limiting their turnovers is essential for success.

Overall, the Blue Raiders have a nice start at 3-1 this season, but there are a number of problems that need solutions before they begin a tough stretch of play starting in December.

Follow Kurt on Twitter - @KurtKnowsBest

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