Middle Tennessee mauls Grand Canyon in Dr Pepper Classic

Middle Tennessee mauls Grand Canyon in Dr Pepper Classic

December 31st, 2013 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

Middle Tennessee State's Shawn Jones dunks the ball during the Blue Raiders' win over Grand Canyon in the consolation game Monday of the Dr Pepper Classic at McKenzie Arena.

Photo by Maura Friedman/Times Free Press.

Claire Davis gave her dad a huge hug after Middle Tennessee State won the consolation game of the Dr Pepper Classic.

The Blue Raiders' coach deserved it.

Shawn Jones deserved one as well for scoring 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds in their 79-56 whipping of Grand Canyon just 24 hours after the Murfreesboro team lost to Miane 89-85 in overtime.

"We learned yesterday a tough lesson," Kermit Davis said. "We didn't play physical last night. We didn't have a presence and we didn't guard."

So Davis changed the daily plan. He had the MTSU players go through a full 50-minute workout starting at 7:45 a.m. Monday in McKenzie Arena. Perhaps that workout put the Raiders in the right frame of mind to help them start Monday's game with a 12-0 lead.

"It helped us get back our identity," Jones said. "I think it's why we came out with energy."

Former Baylor School star Reggie Upshaw Jr. started and scored 12 points, as did Neiko Hunter. Kerry Hammonds added 11 points for the Raiders (9-5).

Killian Larson powered Grand Canyon (5-8) with 22 ponts and 14 rebounds. Jerome Garrison added 14 points for the Antelopes, who were whipped from the opening tip. MTSU scored on six of its first seven possessions and maintained at least a nine-point lead for the rest of the first half.

Upshaw gave the Blue Raiders a 40-20 lead with a fierce one-hand dunk finishing a fast break with 3:17 to go in the half.

The Antelopes pulled within 42-24 by halftime, but Jones had established his inside dominance with 12 points -- including three putbacks -- and seven rebounds before the break.

MTSU senior point guard Tweety Knight inured his right thigh with 12:14 to play. Davis said after the game that Knight will be fine.

With about two minutes to play, Davis called for time to empty his bench in MTSU's most lopsided win over a Division I team this season.

UTC will return the favor of the Blue Raiders playing in UTC's tournament by playing in Murfreesboro next season.

"I like this series," Davis said. "We played in my early days at Middle. I hate that we're not in the championship game playing Chattanooga."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.