Middle Tennessee defeats Rice 65-41

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) Shawn Jones had 15 points and Middle Tennessee bounced back from its first loss in eleven games to lead wire-to-wire in a 65-41 blowout of Rice on Saturday.

Middle Tennessee (22-8, 12-3 Conference USA) opened the game with an 11-3 run, led 33-19 at halftime and extended to 63-38 for their largest lead.

Kerry Hammonds II had 14 points and six rebounds, and Neiko Hunter had 12 points and seven rebounds. The Blue Raiders broke the game open with 13 straight points in the early part of the second half to go ahead 49-25 on Tavarres Jefferson’s 3-pointer with 10:30 left.

The win moved Middle Tennessee alone into first place in the conference. But Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech and Tulsa play Sunday, each with a chance to pull even in the standings with the Raiders.

Ross Wilson had eight points and seven rebounds, leading Rice (7-21, 2-13) in both categories.