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Middle Tennessee to play host to UAB in Conference USA opener

Staff Reports • Updated Jul 20, 2016 at 11:30 AM

MURFREESBORO – Middle Tennessee men’s hoops kicks off the New Year with a bang as the reigning Conference USA champions will play host to last season’s regular season pacesetter, the UAB Blazers.

Head coach Kermit Davis announced the full conference slate on Monday with the Blue Raiders non-conference match-ups still to be released.

“We think that the 2016-17 C-USA season is as complete and competitive it has ever been,” Davis said. “We have eight all-conference players returning in C-USA, as well as a host of great freshmen.

“I don’t think the league has ever recruited as well as it did this past season.”

After the C-USA opener against UAB on Jan. 1, MTSU will hit the road to take on Rice on Jan. 5 and North Texas on Jan. 7 before returning to the Murphy Center to face off against Marshall on Jan. 12 and Western Kentucky on Jan. 14.

“We’re looking forward to a great conference home schedule and what a way to start it with UAB, Marshall and WKU in the first two home weekends,” Davis said.

Middle Tennessee’s second conference road trip will be a Florida swing with a Jan. 19 meeting at FIU before moving just up the road to battle Florida Atlantic on Jan. 21.

Southern Miss on Jan. 26 and Louisiana Tech on Jan. 28 close out January in Murfreesboro after which the Raiders will open up February at UTSA on Feb. 2 and UTEP on Feb. 4.

Old Dominion on Feb. 9 and Charlotte on Feb. 11 are the next challengers to visit the Murphy Center before Middle Tennessee goes on a tough three-game road trip to WKU on Feb. 16, Marshall on Feb. 18 and UAB on Feb. 25.

The Blue Raiders close out the regular season with a homestand against FIU on March 2 and Florida Atlantic on March 4 before preparing for another postseason run.

Middle returns its top two scorers from the 2015-16 squad that went 25-10 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Round of 32.

Junior Giddy Potts (14.9 ppg) and senior Reggie Upshaw (13.7 ppg) both earned all-conference honors a season ago while the latter served as the C-USA Tournament MVP for the Blue Raiders.

Middle Tennessee returns five additional letterwinners and welcomes a host of talented newcomers as it looks to replace three starters lost to graduation and defend its Conference USA title.

“We lost three good seniors that meant a lot to our team, but we return our top two scorers and have seven others back that were a part of our program last year,” Davis stated. “Those guys are going to have to have a real critical role in the ongoing growth of this program.

“We’ve been really impressed with our four newcomers in this class, as well, and I think they can make a big impact on this team.”

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