The Blue Raiders have fallen in love with comebacks and their home court. On Wednesday night, they showed off both once again.
MTSU (2-0) defeated North Florida 77-70 at Murphy Center for its 30th consecutive regular-season home win, tied for the longest in the nation.
“That’s pretty cool,” MTSU coach Kermit Davis said. “I have been part of some really good teams, but I can’t remember winning that many in a row. Our guys just feel really good at home. Hopefully, we will play a more complete 40 minutes moving forward.”
Like in its opening win over Southern University, MTSU had to rally from a 12-point deficit for the victory to keep its streak alive.
South Dakota State also has 30 straight home wins heading into its home opener against Montana tonight. The Blue Raiders have not lost a regular-season game at Murphy Center since falling to Belmont on Nov. 20, 2011.
“That matters to me, just because it tells you what the past two teams have done here,” said freshman Reggie Upshaw, a former Baylor High standout. “They brought this program a long way, and we don’t want to let them down.”
MTSU was led by three newcomers. Junior college transfer Marcus Tarrance and North Carolina State transfer Jaqawn Raymond had 14 points apiece. Upshaw had his first double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Shawn Jones also had 12 points and six rebounds despite foul trouble.
Upshaw and Raymond were both scoreless in their debuts in Sunday’s win over Southern University.
MTSU rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half in its opening win. On Wednesday night, it fell behind in the first half.
MTSU’s uphill climb began when trailing 27-15 with 6:45 remaining in the first half. A quick 16-8 spurt — capped by Jones’ dunk off a Kerry Hammonds pass — trimmed UNF’s lead to 35-31 at halftime.
The Blue Raiders then came out shooting. Hammonds buried a 3-pointer from the corner shortly after the halftime break. Tarrance added another trey 90 seconds later, and Raymond’s 3-pointer off a Hammonds drive cut UNF’s lead to 45-44.
Tarrance made a pair of foul shots to put MTSU ahead 46-45 with 15:09 remaining. After another UNF basket, freshman Joshua Phillips nailed an 18-foot baseline jumper for the first points of his career. It gave MTSU a 48-47 advantage, and the Blue Raiders never trailed again in the final 14 minutes.