Bluejays and Blue Raiders meet in Emerald Coast Classic

Nov 29, 2014 - 3:51 PM Niceville, FL ( - The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders and the Creighton Bluejays will close out their stays in the Emerald Coast Classic on Saturday afternoon with a fourth-round matchup at The Arena.

Middle Tennessee won its preliminary round games of this event against Southern University (66-48) and Northern Arizona (65-53) but was no match for Cincinnati in the third round as it suffered a 69-51 loss. The setback dropped the Blue Raiders to 3-2 on the season.

Creighton worked its way into the Top-25 following a hot 5-0 start to the season, with each win coming at home. But hitting the road for the first time did not fare well on Friday in its third-round matchup with Ole Miss, as it fell 75-68.

This marks the first-ever meeting between the Bluejays and the Blue Raiders.

The Blue Raiders never had much of a shot in the third round, as they fell behind 12-0 in the opening eight minutes and could never recover en route to the 18-point loss. They were a victim of Cincinnati's suffocating defense, as they shot a mere 34.7 percent from the field, and the game would have been even more lopsided if they did not put together a strong showing from 3-point range (9-of-20). Darnell Harris transcended the struggles of most of his teammates by draining 5-of-9 from beyond the arc in his way to 15 points. Jacquez Rozier was also solid with 10 points.

On the season, Middle Tennessee has not been able to get much going offensively, as they shoot just 36.2 percent from the field for 61.6 ppg. Its lackluster offensive effort has nearly spoiled an outstanding defensive showing (59.6 ppg, +2.6 turnover margin). No one scores in double figures, but Reggie Upshaw (9.6 ppg), Rozier (9.6 ppg) and Marc Tarrance (9.2 ppg) are all on the doorstep. Upshaw and Rozier also help out on the glass with at least 6.0 rpg apiece.

The Bluejays took control of their third-round contest early by claiming a six-point lead at the half and they continued to lead by two with under two minutes remaining before allowing Ole Miss to finish the game on a 12-3 run. They shot a respectable 44 percent from the field on the evening, which included 13 3-pointers, but they could not stop the Rebels on the other end (.521). Isaiah Zierden did all he could off the bench, knocking down 5-of-8 from beyond the arc en route to a team-high 18 points. Austin Chatman stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, six assists and five rebounds, while Devin Brooks scored 14.

Creighton's offense in the early going this season has kept pace with the potent 2013-14 squad (78.7 ppg), as it shoots 44 percent from the field and 75.9 percent at the foul line for 76.8 ppg, which is more than enough to support a stellar scoring defense (63.2 ppg). Zierden is an excellent 3-point shooter (19-of-40), which has helped him on his way to a team-best 14.5 ppg. Chatman (10.5 ppg) is the only other player in double figures but seven others score at least 4.5 ppg.

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!