Middle falls to rival Western Kentucky by 12

Both teams came into Saturdays fixture on a two game losing streak. One would leave with a win, the other a continuing skid. The Hilltoppers played with a faster tempo, and wore down a flat Middle Tennessee team.

Bowling Green, Ky. – Both teams came into Saturdays fixture on a two game losing streak. One would leave with a win, the other a continuing skid. The Hilltoppers played with a faster tempo, and wore down a flat Middle Tennessee team.

Middle Tennessee started the afternoon off on the wrong foot, surrendering the first basket around 30 seconds in, and couldn't equalize until the 17th minute. Despite committing nine first half turnovers, the Raiders kept it close going into half time, a late bucket by Kyle Young cut the lead to 6, 23-29.

Coach Kermit Davis opted to start a smaller lineup against the quick Hilltoppers. Unfortunately, that meant starting three sophomores, and two freshmen. Their lack of experience was obvious, but their heart was unquestioned. The young men soldiered on, putting on a grim face, and did everything they could against a nearly continuous press defense. Western played a lot of traps, double teaming point guard Kevin Kanaskie, forcing him into unfavorable situations, and causing turnovers aplenty. Kanaskie finished the game with 6 turnovers, 5 in the first half. Despite his poor play on this occasion, Kanaskie was labeled by a commentator as "Not a guy with good hops, but he's one smart cookie."

Around the 10 minute mark, Middle appeared to be making good adjustments, and mounted a comeback. They took the lead three times in the opening 20 minutes of play, and unfortunately never saw it again.

The second half held hope for a MT victory, but as the game wore on, those hopes faded. Playing on the road in a hostile environment was to prove insurmountable for the young Raiders. Courtesy of some bad luck, the Blues couldn't pay to have a basket sink, shooting just over 41% from the field at the end of the game. Neither team was very impressive from the free throw line, Middle shot 12-19 for 63%, while Western tallied up 15-22 a whopping 68%.

Tim Blue led Middle in scoring with 12 points and missed a double-double by one rebound. He also tallied two assists and a steal. Kevin Kanaskie dropped 11 points, an assist and three boards. Nigel Johnson and Theryn Hudson tied for third with seven points.

The Raiders fall to 12-14 and 7-8 in the Sun Belt, while Western moved up to 18-9, and 10-5.

Middle Tennessee next faces Florida International in Murfreesboro, Thursday February 15th. Until then, remember how good it feels to leave the Murphy Center as the pep band belts out "Alma Mater", and every blue clad face is smiling.

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