By: Kane McGuire/Louisiana Tech Athletics
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Mubarak Muhammed put together a career performance on Thursday night to help Louisiana Tech hold off Middle Tennessee, 80-73, inside the Murphy Center.
The senior forward scored a career-high 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the field and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds as LA Tech (14-5, 5-2 C-USA) built as much as a 23-point lead on Middle Tennessee (4-16, 0-7 C-USA) and held on for its third league road win of the season.
“We talked all week in practice about being able to move the ball quickly and then be ready to shoot the ball when you are open,” said head coach Eric Konkol. “It seems so simple, but there are complexities to it especially when you’ve got good teams in this league trying to stop you from doing that. I thought we got good looks early in the game and we were very aggressive.
“Middle Tennessee has shown that they are capable of coming back in games. We kept saying this team is not going to go away. Thankfully, we were able to make just enough plays in the end.”
LA Tech was unstoppable on offense in the first half, making 16 of its 25 shots while hitting six three-pointers. The sixth three-pointer came from DaQuan Bracey who beat the buzzer with a deep triple to give the ‘Dogs a 46-31 edge at halftime.
His fourth three pushed the lead to 71-48 in favor of the Bulldogs with 8:47 to go. From there though, Middle Tennessee kicked it into another gear on both ends and made it a three-point game with 26 seconds remaining.
However, Muhammed closed it out for LA Tech by grabbing three important rebounds and knocking down two clutch free throws to help seal the victory.
“Mo was tenacious in so many different facets from guarding the post to rebounding the basketball to making shots,” said Konkol. “He was dynamic tonight and I’m really proud of him.”
The team, which rebounded from a heartbreaking loss at home, ended up shooting 59 percent from the field (29-49) and 54 percent from beyond the arc (7-13).
“I think being able to rebound from losses says a lot about the leadership on our team,” said Konkol. “To have it not linger and move on. To learn from the past and get better for the future. Our team did that this whole week of practice. I felt food about the way we prepared, knowing this was not going to be an easy place to come and get a win. Certainly happy to come away with one.”
Three other Bulldogs joined Muhammed in double figures. Derric Jean tied a season-high with 15 points, Bracey finished with 14 points to go along with five assists and Kalob Ledoux added 13 points off the bench.
The Blue Raiders were limited to 38 percent shooting. C.J. Jones and Antonio Green each registered 16 points.
LA Tech will now head to Birmingham, Alabama to take on UAB on Saturday, Jan. 25. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. on ESPN+.