NORFOLK, Va. (ODUSports.com) – In the 2020-21 home finale, the Old Dominion men's basketball team (14-6, 10-4 C-USA) was too much for Middle Tennessee (5-15, 3-11 C-USA) in a 73-60 victory on Saturday night at Chartway Arena. Jaylin Hunter poured in a career high 17 points, a career high six assists to compliment four rebounds, while Mekhi Long also turned in a career high 16 points. ODU has now won five of its last six games, as well as 12 of its last 16.
Old Dominion ends the 2020-21 season with an 9-1 record at home. Since 2014-15, the Monarchs are 86-17 when playing at Chartway Arena. Old Dominion has won its last four contests against the Blue Raiders.
After trailing by 14 at halftime, Middle Tennessee cut its deficit down to 10, 41-31, at the 18:02 mark of the second half. The Monarchs responded right back scoring 16 of the game's next 20 points, ballooning its lead to 22, 57-35, capped off by an A.J. Oliver II trey with 11:02 to play. The Blue Raiders utilized a 7-0 run to pull with 15, 57-42, with 9:08 remaining in regulation.
The closest Middle Tennessee would get the rest of the way was the final score.
"I thought tonight was the complete game that we didn't play last night," said ODU head coach Jeff Jones. "We had terrific energy, our defense was outstanding, and we had a lot of different guys contribute at different times. So to finish the game in a positive manner, I thought was a good sign and left us feeling good about ourselves after this series."
Austin Trice went for 11 points and a game high eight rebounds. Also in double-figures for ODU was Malik Curry, who scored 10 points in 13 minutes.
For the contest, Old Dominion held advantages for points in the paint (44-18) and bench points (32-21). ODU's defense held the Blue Raiders to 33.3% (20-60) shooting from the floor and 30.0% (9-30) from three-point range. For the game, the Monarchs connected on 51.6% (32-62) from floor. Old Dominion only turned the ball over eight times on Saturday night and led for a total of 34:46 of the total 40 minutes.
Over a 5:46 span, ODU went on a 13-2 run to take an early 17-11 advantage in the first half. Old Dominion ended the opening frame outscoring the Blue Raiders 32-13, claiming a 36-22 lead heading into the locker rooms at halftime.
The Monarchs defense held Middle Tennessee to 9.1% (1-11) shooting from deep and 32.1% (9-28) in the opening 20 minutes. Malik Curry scored a half-high 10 points. For the half, ODU held advantages for bench points (17-7), points in the paint (22-14) and fast break points (7-0).
Old Dominion will return to action for its final two games of the regular season, when the Monarchs travel to Bowling Green, Kentucky for a pair of games against Western Kentucky on Friday, March 5 at 8 p.m. EST and Saturday, March 6 at 5 p.m. EST.
The Hilltoppers currently sit in first place in the Conference USA East division, while ODU sits alone in second place. Western Kentucky (15-5, 8-2 C-USA) received votes in the most recent AP Top 25 poll.
The top two teams from each division receive byes in the 2021 Conference USA Tournament held in Frisco on March 9-14.
To view the C-USA standings, please CLICK HERE [conferenceusa.com].
"To have an opportunity to play the number one team in our league next weekend should be the definition of fun," Jones concluded. "If you're a competitor, these are the opportunities you look forward to and dream about."