The Blue Raiders (17-4, 9-1) tip off against the Hilltoppers (11-10, 5-5) at 3:00 in the Murphy Center and the game will be televised on ESPN2.
There are two key words that come to mind when I look at this game: injuries and depth. Western comes in with 5 players out hurt and one just returning from a shoulder injury:
George Fant - leg
Kevin Kaspar - leg
Nigel Snipes - ACL (out for season)
Caden Dickerson - Shoulder (first game back in two months)
Jamal Crook - broken foot
T.J. Price - ankle
Jamal Crook (14.5 ppg), TJ Price (14 ppg) and George Fant (12 ppg) lead the team in scoring.
It appears the injury that hurts the most for the Toppers is senior guard Jamal Crook. Crook is the team-leading scorer averaging 14.5 per game as well as team leader averaging 4.5 assist. Although Crook is expected to be back by at least early February it is unclear if he will see time against Middle.
The biggest strength for Middle is the ability to rotate 12 players and not miss a step. The Hiltoppers have a hurt and depleted roster that will not be able to keep up with Middle Tennessee and Kermit will take advantage of that. Expect to see constant substituting to keep the legs fresh and outrun Western in the second half.
Middle plays solid defense throughout and keeps it a low scoring game. MT wins 67-53. Marcos Knight leads team with 27 points.