- LOUIS, Mo. – In perhaps the biggest win in Middle Tennessee history, head coach Kermit Davisand the Blue Raiders showed the nation just what they were capable of by defeating No. 2 seeded Michigan State, 90-81.
All five Middle Tennessee starters recorded double figures in the game, led by Reggie Upshaw‘s 21 points. Giddy Potts (19), Darnell Harris (15), Perrin Buford (15) and Jaqawn Raymond (11) each joined Upshaw in the double-digit scoring party.
The Blue Raiders (25-9) shot the highest field goal percentage (.559) and three-point percentage (.579) the Spartans (29-6) have allowed all season.
Middle Tennessee jumped on the Spartans early, playing a more physical and energetic game while also hitting their first six shots of the game to take a 15-2 lead through the first four and a half minutes.
Michigan State got their second basket of the game a couple of possessions later, but the Blue Raiders answered right back to keep the lead at 13.
MSU reeled off a couple of three-pointers in a row before the Blue Raiders got one of their own courtesy of Raymond to bring the score to 20-10.
Michigan State then made an 8-0 run to get back within two, but Middle fought off the run to maintain the lead with the second Potts three-pointer of the game.
The Raiders and Spartans began to trade blows for the remainder of the second half, with each team answering nearly every basket by the other.
Middle Tennessee went into the locker room with a 41-35 advantage over the Spartans without having trailed the entire 20 minutes.
The Blue Raiders shot 8-of-12 from long range in the first half to help their cause, but were also able to battle down low, outrebounding the Spartans 13-12.
Middle Tennessee maintained their energy coming out of the break as Raymond opened the second half scoring with a jumper.
Michigan State was able to close the gap to two points before the Raiders put up a 6-0 run that included a strong baseline dunk by Buford.
The Blue Raiders opened up a nine-point lead at the 12:07 mark when Harris drained a three-pointer, but Michigan State continued to battle.
MSU went on a 7-0 run to come back to within a point just before the under-eight media timeout, but the Raiders refused to allow the Spartans to take a hold of the lead.
The two began swapping baskets again before Middle began to pull away in the final minutes.
Upshaw put the exclamation point on the game with a pulverizing slam on Michigan State post man Colby Wollenman, extending the Blue Raider lead to 83-76 with 40 seconds remaining in the contest.
Michigan State wouldn’t go quietly after the dunk, but failed to capitalize on offense and allowed the Raiders to get a run out, forcing the Spartans to foul.
After Buford sank both free throws, Potts got a block on the Michigan State end and was fouled, hitting both free throws to make the score 87-81.
Middle Tennessee will take on No. 10 seeded Syracuse (20-13) Sunday in St. Louis.