High School Sports

St. Martin’s Ed Simpson, Middle Tennessee pull off upset of Minnesota

Middle Tennessee State's Ed Simpson (11) reacts after making a 3-pointer during the Blue Raiders’ 81-72 upset of Minnesota in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday. Simpson, a former St. Martin standout, finished with six points in the win.
Middle Tennessee State's Ed Simpson (11) reacts after making a 3-pointer during the Blue Raiders’ 81-72 upset of Minnesota in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday. Simpson, a former St. Martin standout, finished with six points in the win. AP

St. Martin’s Ed Simpson made the most of his second shot at the NCAA Tournament.

A year ago an injury prior to the Conference USA Tournament sidelined the former Yellow Jacket for March Madness.

He got another shot Thursday and didn’t disappoint.

Simpson made a couple big 3-pointers to help 12-seed Middle Tennessee upset 5-seed Minnesota 81-72.

On Saturday, MTSU (31-4) will play 4-seed Butler (24-8), which beat Winthrop 76-64 in the first round.

Simpson, who is a junior guard, converted both of his 3-point attempts and finished 2-for-3 from the floor. He also chipped in an assist.

Reggie Upshaw and Giddy Potts led MTSU with 19 and 15 points respectively. JaCorey Williams added 13 and Brandon Walters 10.

Simpson entered the game averaging 3.5 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.

Last year, the Blue Raiders knocked off 2-seed Michigan State, 90-81, before falling to 10-seed Syracuse 75-50.

How it played out

The Blue Raiders played like seasoned NCAA veterans with the way they held off the Gophers’ comeback attempt from a 17-point deficit in front of a loud and large contingent of Minnesota fans.

Upshaw responded with seven straight points, including a 3-pointer and a reverse layup during a 7-3 run to help give Middle Tennessee a 10-point lead with 3:40 left.

Big picture

Middle Tennessee: Walters added punch off the bench in the first half with 8 points, giving the versatile Blue Raiders another scoring threat. Potts said before practice Wednesday his team could keep up with any tempo, and the Blue Raiders proved it after taking advantage of Minnesota when Lynch was on the bench.

Minnesota: It was a bitter ending for a team that bounced back from a five-game losing streak at midseason. But the Gophers program is back on solid footing after returning to the NCAAs for the first time since 2013.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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