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Friday, August 10, 2007

Middle Tennessee, Memphis to Battle In Hoops

MTSU, Memphis to battle in hoops
By ADAM SPARKS (Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro, TN)

MTSU men's basketball will share the floor as part of an intriguing foursome this season.

The Blue Raiders and fellow Sun Belt Conference member Western Kentucky will join two of the top-ranked teams in the country, according to preseason polls, in a doubleheader on Saturday, Dec. 15 at Nashville's Sommet Center.

MTSU will play Memphis at 6 p.m. in a nationally televised game on ESPN2. Western Kentucky will face Tennessee in the nightcap, starting 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.

Ticket arrangements have yet to be announced, but the game will count as an MTSU home game and be part of the season ticket package plan. A ticket to the Dec. 15 event is good for both games.

MTSU athletic director Chris Massaro and other sources close to the deal declined comment. The formal announcement will come Wednesday during a news conference at the Sommet Center.

Both Memphis and Tennessee are expected to be ranked among the top five or so teams in the country in preseason polls. Many pundits expect Memphis to be ranked No. 1 in some polls.

MTSU's contest against the Tigers is the last of a three-game contract, which began with two trips to Memphis over the last two seasons. The Blue Raiders lost at Memphis 86-46 on Dec. 23, 2006 and fell 83-50 to the Tigers on Jan. 4, 2006.

Memphis leads 23-15 in its series with MTSU, which began in 1930. MTSU has suffered 11 consecutive losses in the series, last defeating Memphis in the 1952-53 season.

MTSU went 15-17 last season for its first losing season in coach Kermit Davis' five-year tenure and lost in the Sun Belt Tournament semifinal. The Blue Raiders return eight of their top 10 players from last season and add six recruits.

Memphis went 33-4 last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight under coach John Calipari. Tennessee went 24-11 last season under coach Bruce Pearl and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen.

Both Memphis and Tennessee ended last season with losses to Ohio State.

Western Kentucky went 22-11 last season, falling in the Sun Belt Tournament semifinals. The Vols defeated Western Kentucky 93-79 last December.

— Adam Sparks, (615) 278-5167


Men's basketball doubleheader

Saturday, Dec. 15

At Nashville's Sommet Center

Memphis vs. MTSU, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)

Tennessee vs. Western Kentucky

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