MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) - JT Sulton scored 17 points as Middle Tennessee defeated Florida International 71-66 Thursday night in the teams' Sun Belt Conference opener.

The victory by the Blue Raiders (12-2) was their fourth in a row and gave coach Kermit Davis the most wins in the history of the program. He has a 165-128 record in his 10th season at Middle Tennessee, surpassing Jimmy Earle's 164 victories from the 1969-70 through 1978-79 seasons.

Sulton's dunk with 13:43 remaining in the first half put Middle Tennessee ahead 11-9, and it never relinquished the lead, although it never led by more than 10 points.

The Golden Panthers (3-10) got within a point, 40-39, with 4:09 gone in the second half, but the Blue Raiders scored the next six points on free throws to lead by seven.

Shawn Jones finished with 15 points for Middle Tennessee.

Phil Taylor led FIU with 22 points.

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