MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – It had been more than a decade since Lipscomb and Middle Tennessee last met on the hardwood. Despite being separated by just 40 miles, the two teams previously played on Nov. 16, 2007, when the Blue Raiders took a 68-62 win at Murphy Center.
“We’ve talked on and off,” Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander said. “I talked to [former Middle Tennessee coach] Kermit [Davis] a few times, and it just didn’t work out one way or another. It’s great for us – it’s a good local game. We’ll see if it continues, but that’s just kind of the way it goes.”
Saturday’s long-awaited battle did not disappoint – at least for Lipscomb fans. The Bisons used four double-digit scorers to pull away from Middle Tennessee in an 84-74 victory.
Lipscomb survives another tough road test
Since dropping to Belmont at home on Nov. 15, the Bisons have now reeled off four-straight road victories. The 6-1 start is Lipscomb’s best since the 2004-05 season.
Middle Tennessee (3-5) did not make things easy. Antonio Green had 21 first-half points, and the Blue Raiders held a narrow 38-37 advantage at the break.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for [Middle Tennessee],” Alexander said. “We had to fight really hard, we had to make a lot of plays, and we just happened to be on the right end of experience.”
Mathews drops 29 points, nearing 2,000 for his career
Lipscomb’s Garrison Mathews is nearing another major statistical milestone. The senior guard scored 29 points on Saturday to move into 10th place on Lipscomb’s all-time leading scoring list with 1,868 career points. He will likely hit the 2,000-point mark later this month.
“You see it here and there, just from people talking,” Mathews said. “But the main focus right now is to just keep pushing forward and enjoying the process to hopefully get that end goal of a championship.”
Lipscomb is the only team in NCAA Division I with three 1,000-point scorers on its active roster. Moran and Marberry both achieved the mark earlier this season to join Mathews on the list.
Asadullah emerging as an important contributor
Ahsan Asadullah made a big splash in his college debut by scoring 26 points against Sewanee in November. Since then, the redshirt freshman has been a bit inconsistent on the offensive end. But the Atlanta native scored 15 points against Morehead State last Sunday and followed that performance up with 10 points against the Blue Raiders.
“It’s huge,” Alexander said of Asadullah’s play. “He gives us 15 good minutes and 10 points in the post off the bench. He and [Rob Marberry]…[that’s] a good one-two punch for us.”
Rose to forego his final season at Lipscomb
Forward Matt Rose will not return next season, despite having a year of eligibility remaining. Lipscomb sports information director Kirk Downs confirmed the news on Saturday.
The Samford transfer sat out the 2016-17 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but he used a redshirt to salvage a fifth year of eligibility. But instead of using his final year, Rose is planning to get married and begin his career in finance.
Greg Jones out with an injury
The Bisons were without the services of Greg Jones against Middle Tennessee. The sophomore guard was seen in street clothes on Lipscomb’s bench and missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Alexander said he expects Jones to “be back soon.”
Lipscomb has already dealt with a few injuries this season. Freshman Jaxon Strates was lost to an ACL injury in late October, and Rob Marberry missed the first two games of the season with a broken hand.