KeKe Stewart

Blue Raiders seek first C-USA Championship title

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Saturday's Conference USA Championship final features a showdown of the league's top-two regular season teams, as Middle Tennessee (28-4) takes on Southern Miss (26-5). The Blue Raiders are seeking a 14th conference tournament title. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CT / 6 p.m. MT inside the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas. The contest will air nationally on the CBS Sports Network.


Matchup: No. 20/22 Middle Tennessee vs. Southern Miss (C-USA Championship Final)
Date: Saturday, March 15, 2014
Time: 7 p.m. CT / 6 p.m. MT
Location: El Paso, Texas
Arena: Don Haskins Center (12,222)


Overall: Southern Miss leads series, 2-1
Under Rick Insell: MT trails, 0-1
At Neutral Site: MT leads, 1-0
Last Meeting: USM 68, MT 56 - Feb. 5, 2014 - Hattiesburg, Miss.


Radio: WMOT (89.5 FM) / WGNS (1450 AM/100.5 FM)
Play-by-Play: Dick Palmer
Color: Kyle Turnham
Television: CBS Sports Network
Play-by-Play: Ed Cohen
Color: Julianne Viani
Live Video - Live Audio - Live Stats

Quick Hitters

• No. 20/22 Middle Tennessee (28-4) picked up its 10th straight win with a 64-57 decision over FIU on Friday. The Raiders were paced by Ebony Rowe, who posted 25 points and 14 rebounds.
• Saturday's Conference USA Championship title game features a rematch of the Feb. 5 contest, which Southern Miss (26-5) gave MT its only blemish of the season.
• Both teams have double-digit win streaks coming in to Saturday's game. The Golden Eagles' 13-game win streak is fifth nationally, while MT's 10-game trend is sixth in the NCAA.
• The Blue Raiders are making their 21st conference tournament title game appearance and the 11th in the past 12 years. The Blue Raiders are seeking a 14th conference tournament championship. MT is 13-7 all-time and 4-2 under Rick Insell.
• A victory on Saturday would give this year's squad the second most wins in program history, surpassing the 28-win season from the 2008-09 squad.
• In nine seasons, Rick Insell's teams have only lost twice to an opponent (WKU) one time in 2007-08.

Conference Tournament Tidbits

• MT owns a 53-19 all-time mark in conference tournaments that spans the team's tenure in the OVC, Sun Belt and now C-USA.
• The Raiders are 21-3 all-time under Coach Rick Insell, which includes five conference tournament titles.
• Middle Tennessee has appeared in the conference tournament championship game in 11 out of the last 12 years. The Raiders are 7-3 in championship games during that stretch.
• The Blue Raiders are making their seventh under Insell. MT is 4-2 under his watch in championship games.
• MT is making its 21st overall title game appearance.

Tournament Records

• With 29 rebounds in this tournament, Ebony Rowe set the school record with 113 career boards in tournament games.
• Rowe has amassed 173 points in 10 tournament games. The career record for points is Chrissy Given's 237 set from 2004 to 2007.

The Southern Miss Series

• Southern Miss and MT meet for the fourth time in program history. USM leads the series, 2-1.
• The two squads first met on Dec. 15, 1977 when the Raiders edged the Golden Eagles 82-75 in overtime in the Blue Mountain (Miss.) Tournament. USM later returned the favor with a 77-65 win in Hattiesburg on Dec. 17, 1979.
• USM won the regular season meeting, 68-56, in Hattiesburg. The Golden Eagles held MT to 35.1 percent shooting. Ebony Rowe paces the Raiders with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
• Coach Joye Lee-McNelis, who coached at Memphis 1991-2004, is 4-4 all-time against the Blue Raiders.

Scouting the Golden Eagles

• No. 2 seed Southern Miss (26-5) puts its 13-game win streak, which ranks fifth nationally, on the line when the Golden Eagles play MT on Saturday. USM ranks in the top-3 in eight statistical categories in Conference USA. The Golden Eagles are tops in the league with assist/turnover ratio (1.14), assists per game (18.8), field goal percentage (46.9), scoring margin (+12.3), and scoring offense (79.2). Three Eagles are in double figures. Defensive Player of the Year, Jamierra Faulkner averages 17.3 points per game, with a nation-leading 8.5 assists per game. Tamara Jones, Newcomer of the Year, is boasting 14.5 points, while Jerontay Clemons is averaging 11.3 ppg. Coach Joye Lee-McNelis was tabbed the C-USA Coach of the Year.

Rematches under Insell

• Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Insell has only lost two a program twice during the same season during his nine-year tenure. His 2007-08 squad fell to Western Kentucky two times.

Reaching the Win Plateau

• Middle Tennessee's victory over FIU, tied the 2008-09 squad, for the second most wins in a single season. The 2008-09 team produced a 28-6 mark.
• The school record of 30 was set under Rick Insell in 2006-07.
• The Raiders have won 25 or more games six times in Insell's nine years.

Seniority Matters

• Middle Tennessee's 2014 senior class has 102 victories for a winning percentage of .791.
• MT matched the Class of 2012 with 102 wins for second most all-time. A program record 105 wins were collected by the Class of 2010.

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