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Middle Tennessee earns 3rd straight win over Vanderbilt

The Commodores shot 29% from the floor in the second half as a 32-28 halftime lead dissolved.

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Middle Tennessee earns 3rd straight win over Vanderbilt

Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts (20) dives for the ball with Vanderbilt guard Riley LaChance in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Middle Tennessee guard Edward Simpson (11) watches. Middle Tennessee won 66-63. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts (20) dives for the ball with Vanderbilt guard Riley LaChance in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Middle Tennessee guard Edward Simpson (11) watches. Middle Tennessee won 66-63. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts (20) dives for the ball with Vanderbilt guard Riley LaChance in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Middle Tennessee guard Edward Simpson (11) watches. Middle Tennessee won 66-63. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Middle Tennessee guard Giddy Potts (20) dives for the ball with Vanderbilt guard Riley LaChance in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Middle Tennessee guard Edward Simpson (11) watches. Middle Tennessee won 66-63. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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Middle Tennessee forward Nick King (5) drives between Vanderbilt center Djery Baptiste (12) and guard Saben Lee (0) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Middle Tennessee won 66-63. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — In a series that was once a gimme for Vanderbilt and a character building moment for MTSU, the last three match-ups have taken a spin for the toward the interesting as Middle Tennessee gets its third straight win over the Commodores winning Wednesday night 66-63.

Middle Tennessee’s Nick King, one of the nation’s top scorers,  enjoyed leading his team to another big game, scoring 23 points in their third straight win.

MTSU improved to 6-0 against the SEC and Big 10 since 2015. “That’s a great stat for the brand at Middle Tennessee and we’re trying to build it.””

— Kermit Davis, MTSU Head Basketball Coach

King is king when it comes to leadership. “He’s just a guy that can score at all three levels,” Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis said. “He can drive the ball, he’s shooting 50 percent from 3 and he’s got a really good post-up game.”

King, a transfer from Alabama, was a top 50 prospect coming out of Memphis East High School. The 6-foot-7 senior forward also played at Memphis for two seasons.

Brandon Walters and Giddy Potts both added 16 points for MTSU (6-1), whose only loss was to Belmont earlier this year.

“It’s great playing with Nick King because he’s pick-and-pop big,” Walters said. “So he’s versatile. His game can go inside-out, so if he goes inside I can pop out and get him the inside paint where he can go one on one because he’s a very good offensive scorer.”

King has earned the respect of his opponents who was sent to the charity stripe 11 times. King went 9 of 11 from the foul line and grabbed six rebounds. “He’s talented, especially offensively and he’s aggressive and he attacks,” Vanderbilt forward Jeff Roberson said. “So it’s about being able to play without fouling and it’s hard sometimes. So once he got rolling he got lots of points at the free-throw line and that didn’t help either.”

MTSU improved to 6-0 against the SEC and Big 10 since 2015. “That’s a great stat for the brand at Middle Tennessee and we’re trying to build it,” Davis said.

Vanderbilt kept it close and led at the half by 4 points. The ‘Dore’s Matthew Fisher-Davis came off the bench to score 17 points, including five 3-pointers, for Vanderbilt (3-6). Roberson added 13 points for the Commodores, who have lost five of their last six games.

“That’s the third one we’ve gotten the short stick here at the end,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t shoot the ball well. We missed some key shots and you’ve got to credit Middle.”

Vanderbilt’s Riley LaChance missed a 3-point attempt with two seconds left that could have tied the game. LaChance was 0-for-6 from distance. Vanderbilt also lost tight home games to 25th-ranked Southern Cal 93-89 in overtime on Nov. 19 and to Kansas State 84-79 on Sunday.

The Commodores shot only 29 percent from the floor in the second half as a 32-28 halftime lead dissolved.

UP NEXT
Middle Tennessee hosts Ole Miss (4-3) on Saturday before visiting another SEC team, Auburn, on Dec. 16. Ole Miss has lost two straight overtime games.

Vanderbilt visits 16th-ranked Arizona State (7-0) on Dec. 17 after an 11-day break for final exams. ASU’s explosive offense ranks fifth nationally (92.7 ppg).

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Middle Tennessee earns 3rd straight win over Vanderbilt