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January 11, 2013

From the Hardwood - MTSU

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ULM (3-9, 2-4 SBC) begins a tough stretch of games against conference-leading Middle Tennessee (13-4, 5-1 SBC) on Saturday at 4 p.m. inside Fant-Ewing Coliseum. The Warhawks dropped a 64-55 decision at Troy on Thursday while Middle Tennessee is coming off a 62-52 victory at home against Florida Atlantic on Thursday. Saturday's game can be heard locally on KLIP 105.3 FM in Monroe or online at ulmwarhawks.com, with Nick White calling the action.


ULM led by as many as 11 in the first, but struggled after halftime as Troy rallied for a 64-55 victory on Thursday inside Trojan Arena. The Warhawks shot 34.8 percent (8-of-23) and scored just 24 points in the second half. 

Junior guard Amos Olatayo was the lone bright spot for the Warhawks as he registered 17 points and tied his career-high with eight rebounds off the bench. Olatayo finished 7-of-10 from the field and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line in 27 minutes of action.

Junior guard Marcelis Hansberry was the only other ULM player to score in double figures with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting. Sophomore guard Trent Mackey added eight points and four rebounds, but finished 2-of-10 from 3-point range. Junior forward Millaun Brown recorded a career-best nine rebounds.

Junior forward Jayon James entered the game Thursday ranked fifth in the Sun Belt in rebounding, but managed just one board in 25 minutes against the Trojans.

ULM led 21-10 with 8:51 remaining in the first half, but Troy answered with six straight points and cut the Warhawks' lead to 31-28 at halftime. The Trojans took control of the game with runs of 11-0 and 7-0 in the second half.

The Trojans out-rebounded the Warhawks 24-14 in the second half and finished with a 36-32 edge on the boards for the game.


ULM Head Coach Keith Richard has gone with the same starting lineup (McCray, Hansberry, Mackey, James and Brown) in seven straight games after utilizing five different lineups in ULM's first six games. Junior forwards Jayon James and Millaun Brown are the only two Warhawks to start in all 12 games this season.

The Warhawks were averaging 71.8 points over their past four games, but managed just 55 on Thursday at Troy. ULM is still shooting 48.4 percent from the field, 38.8 percent from 3-point range and 62.5 percent from the free-throw line over its last five games.

ULM ranks third in the Sun Belt in assists per game (12.6) and fourth in 3-point percentage (.346). The Warhawks lead the Sun Belt in assists per game (13.3) in Sun Belt games.

Junior Amos Olatayo leads the Warhawks in scoring with 13.4 points per game this season. Olatayo has come off the bench and scored at least 17 points in each of the past three games. The Alief, Texas, native is shooting 47.6 percent (40-of-84) from the field, 34.5 percent (10-of-25) from 3-point range and 56.7 percent (17-of-30) from the free-throw line this season.

Junior Jayon James had season lows in points (2) and rebounds (1) Thursday against Troy, but is still averaging 10.4 points and ranks seventh in the Sun Belt in rebounds per game (7.3), third in assists per game (4.7) and 10th in steals per game (1.5). James has led the Warhawks in assists in 10 of ULM's 12 games this season.

Sophomore Trent Mackey is second on the team in scoring with 11.4 points per game and ranks seventh in the Sun Belt in 3-point percentage (.402) and fifth in 3-point makes per game (2.8). Mackey has made at least two 3-pointers in six straight games.

Junior guard Marcelis Hansberry has scored in double figures in two straight games and is averaging 9.6 points and shooting 57.6 percent (19-of-33) from the field over ULM's last five games.

ULM has had balanced scoring so far this season with five players averaging at least 8.0 points per game. Olatayo leads the team with 13.4 points per game, followed by Mackey (11.4), James (10.4), junior R.J. McCray (8.3) and junior Hansberry (8.0). Seven different ULM players have scored in double figures at least once this season and three different players have registered at least 20 points.

The Warhawks do not have a regular starter back from last season and returned just 28 percent of their scoring and 24 percent of their rebounding from a season ago.



Middle Tennessee has the best record in the Sun Belt with wins over UL-Lafayette (72-58), FIU (69-52), North Texas (72-57), South Alabama (60-56) and Florida Atlantic (62-52). The Blue Raiders' lone loss in conference play came in overtime at Arkansas State (66-60) on Jan. 3.  Middle Tennessee ranks No. 12 in the latest Collegeinsider.com Mid Major Top 25 poll.

Middle Tennessee ranks fifth in the Sun Belt in scoring offense (68.2 ppg) and leads the Sun Belt in scoring defense (58.8 ppg). The Blue Raiders are shooting 43.7 percent (414-of-947) from the field, 34.0 percent (80-of-235) from 3-point range and 66.8 percent (252-of-377) from the free-throw line this season.

Marcos Knight is the only Middle Tennessee player in double figure scoring with 12.5 points per game. Knight is shooting 40.9 percent (79-of-193) from the field, 29 percent (9-of-31) from 3-point range and 67.2 percent (45-of-67) from the free-throw line. The Blue Raiders have six other players that average at least 5.0 points or better.

Kermit Davis is Middle Tennessee's all-time winningest coach with 193 victories in 11 seasons. Davis was named the Sun Belt's Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2012. He coached the Blue Raiders to the Sun Belt Regular Season Championship and a trip to the NIT Quarterfinals last season.


Middle Tennessee has won five straight meetings against ULM and owns a slight 7-6 edge in the all-time series. The Blue Raiders defeated the Warhawks 94-61 last season in Monroe en route to the Sun Belt Regular Season Championship. ULM's last win in the series came in an 82-69 victory in Monroe on Jan. 24, 2008. The Warhawks are 2-4 against the Blue Raiders in games played in Monroe.


Middle Tennessee shot an impressive 58.3 percent from the field en route to a 94-61 victory over ULM in the Warhawks' home finale. Middle Tennessee used a 15-7 run to build a 24-11 advantage with 12:03 to play in the opening half. The Blue Raiders stretched the lead to 39-18 on a 3-pointer from James Gallman at the 3:16 mark and led 46-23 at the break. An 11-3 run early in the second half gave the Blue Raiders a 57-27 lead and put the game away.

Fred Brown paced the Warhawks with 13 points and two assists and Hugh Mingo chipped in 12 points in the final game at Fant-Ewing Coliseum for both players. ULM shot 46.5 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from 3-point range, but struggled from the free-throw line, making just 14 of 27 attempts.

Jason Jones paced the Blue Raiders with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. JT Sulton chipped in 13 points and Shawn Jones added 10 points and six rebounds. Middle Tennessee had 12 players score points in the game.


ULM travels to South Alabama on Thursday (Jan. 17) for the first of two straight games away from home. The Warhawks finish the stretch at Arkansas State on Saturday (Jan. 19). 



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