Middle Tennessee upsets North Texas 78-71

Murfreesboro, TN (BlueRaiders.com) - Having lost five of its last six games, the MTSU men's basketball team needed a shot in the arm in the worst way.

The Blue Raiders got it in a big way, stunning red-hot North Texas 78-71 at Murphy Center on Wednesday.

Jason Jones scored 16 points and Shawn Jones added 15 as the Blue Raiders played perhaps their best game of the season.

MTSU improved to 6-9 and 1-1 in Sun Belt Conference play, while UNT fell to 13-3 and 2-1. The Blue Raiders are 6-1 all time at home against North Texas.

The Blue Raiders built a 13-point lead, 43-30, with 17:34 left, but UNT cut the gap to 52-51 with 11:20 left and it was a see-saw game afterward.

MTSU put the game away on Jason Jones' banker with less than a minute remaining.

The Blue Raiders out-rebounded UNT 39-25 and held the Mean Green to a 31-percent shooting percentage.

The Blue Raiders missed their first five field goal attempts in the first half and spotted UNT a 9-1 advantage at the first media timeout with 15:31 remaining before halftime.

However, the Blue Raiders made 10 of their next 15 shots and surged ahead 26-19 with 6:19 remaining.

MTSU's inside presence, which has been lacking of late, was a factor in the first half as Shawn Jones, Trevor Charles, Trevor Ottley and J.T. Sulton combined for 17 points and nine rebounds.

UNT got within three points, 26-23, with 5:02 left before intermission, but the Blue Raiders outscored the Mean Green 11-5 down the stretch to take a 37-28 halftime lead.

MTSU was plagued with foul problems in the opening half as Ottley picked up three, while starting guards James Washington and James Gallman, Sulton and Charles each were whistled for two.

UNT managed just six field goals on 29 percent shooting in the first half, but it made 15-of-22 at the free-throw line. The Blue Raiders out-rebounded UNT 25-10 in the first half.

The Mean Green's top offensive threat inside, George Odufuwa, picked up two fouls in less than five minutes.

MTSU returns to Sun Belt action on Saturday night when it plays at Louisiana-Lafayette.