ODU men's basketball outlasts Middle Tennessee, 67-61

ODU men's basketball
Posted at 1:55 AM, Feb 27, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. – The Old Dominion men's basketball team (13-6, 9-4 C-USA) outlasted Middle Tennessee (5-14, 3-10 C-USA) by a 67-61 score on Friday night at Chartway Arena. ODU has now won four of its last five games, as well as 11 of its last 15.

After trailing by 14 at the half, the Blue Raiders utilized an 11-6 run to cut their deficit to single digits, 38-29, at the 17:36 mark of the second half. Old Dominion answered right back with a 13-2 run, pushing its lead to 20 (the largest of the contest), 51-31, with 13:03 to play, forcing a Middle Tennessee timeout. The Blue Raiders again chipped away at the lead, engineering a 22-9 run to pull within seven, 60-53, with 1:46 remaining in regulation.

A deep Jaylin Hunter trey with 1:18 to play, pushed the Monarchs lead back to double digits, 63-53. Middle Tennessee mounted one late push, scoring eight of the game's next 10 points to pull within four, 65-61, at the 23 second mark.

On the pursuing possession, Hunter found Kalu Ezikpe, who broke loose from MT's full court pressure for an easy two to seal the deal on ODU's six-point victory on Friday night in Norfolk.

Ezikpe turned in a double-double, finishing with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Malik Curry also scored 14 points, to compliment five rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks. Hunter went for 10 points, three rebounds and three steals. All eight Monarchs that played scored.

"We are very happy to get the win," said ODU head coach Jeff Jones. "We didn't play great, but we played well enough. We had some guys that I thought really competed hard for us. Moving forward, we must all remain on the same page and hopefully play at a higher level. Middle Tennessee pushed us and we had to work for this win tonight. We will need to be better tomorrow night."

For the contest, Old Dominion held advantages for points in the paint (38-22) and points off turnovers (19-13). The Monarchs led for 32:40 of the possible 40 minutes.

Midway through the first half, the game remained deadlocked at 14 apiece. Three Monarch steals helped spark a 12-0 run, as ODU claimed a 26-14 lead at the 3:21 mark. During that run, the Blue Raiders were held without a field goal for a total of 6:56. Ultimately, Old Dominion ended the half on an 18-4 run, claiming a 32-18 lead at halftime.

The Monarchs shot 50% (14-28) from the floor and held advantages for points off turnovers (15-5), as well as points in the paint (20-12) in the opening frame. Old Dominion's defense held MT to 36.4% (8-22) shooting from the floor in the first half.

Curry led the way for ODU in the opening 20 minutes, scoring a half high seven points to go along with a half high three steals.

Old Dominion has won its last three contests against the Blue Raiders.

Xavier Green was honored prior to Friday night's game for surpassing the 1,000-point milestone in ODU's last home game.

Old Dominion will be right back in action tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 26 against Middle Tennessee. Saturday night's game will mark the last home game of the regular season for the Monarchs. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Chartway Arena and the game will be streamed on ESPN+.

Old Dominion enters Saturday night's contest with an 8-1 record at home for the season. Since 2014-15, the Monarchs are 85-17 (83.2%) when playing at Chartway Arena.