FIU MBB Makes it Three Straight and Upsets MTSU

Photo by FIU Athletics

After a big win against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Thursday, FIU (11-11) handled business on Saturday night and defeated the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (13-9) to a final score of 82-74.

Highlighted by a 21-point game of Denver Jones, Arturo Deans’ seven assists night, and Mohamed Sanogo coming in clutch with two blocks, FIU held the lead throughout most of the game, and even when it was close, the Panthers played some of the best basketball of the season and won this game convincingly.

Full Court Press gets the Job Done

Although MTSU won the turnover battle, 16 turnovers are still way too many to have in one game, so when I asked coach Ballard about FIU running a full-court press, he said that they wanted to play “FIU Basketball. FIU ball is trying to make it the toughest 40 minutes in the country.”

The Panthers did exactly that as MTSU struggled to get the ball down the court and as you can see on the box score, Arturo Dean had four steals, Mohamed Sanogo had two steals, and Denver Jones, Javaunte Hawkings, Nick Guadarrama, and John Wilson Jr. all had one steal each.

As I mentioned, FIU did lose the turnover battle, which is something that coach Ballard acknowledged in his opening statement after the game. Silly mistakes were made and some really needed passes were also made throughout the course of the game. The Panthers ended the game with 19 turnovers as seven of them came from Arturo Dean as well as three from Hawkins and Dashon Gittens.

Arturo Dean Making an Impact on Both Ends

Arturo Dean didn’t score his usual points per game, but he filled up the stat sheet in many other impactful ways. With seven assists, six rebounds, and four steals, he played a big role on the team and coach Ballard mentioned Dean being “ahead of the curve, but still a lot to learn.” Dean this season has averaged 11.6 points per game, 4.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and is leading the team in rebounds, assists, and steals.

What’s next for FIU?

With the win against Middle Tennessee, the Panthers now find themselves at 11-11 with a 5-6 record in the conference. FIU now heads over to Charlotte to face the 49ers who they beat earlier in the season and then travels to Birmingham to take on the UAB Blazers, who they also beat earlier in the season.

Although FIU has this momentum going into these games against Charlotte and UAB, the Panthers have struggled on the road only winning one game so far, that coming against UTEP just last week. FIU is currently seventh in Conference USA with these next two games being extremely crucial.

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