Davis Becomes 22nd Head Coach in Program History
A native of Leakesville, Mississippi, Davis guided the Blue Raiders to league titles in seven of his last nine years in Murfreesboro, between Conference USA and the Sun Belt. Middle Tennessee is one of five programs he has led to conference championships in 36 years as an assistant and head coach.
An eight-time conference coach of the year, Davis is 34th among active Division I head coaches with 403 career wins, including stints at MT, Idaho and Texas A&M. He ranks 11th nationally in winning percentage over the last three years and 13th over the last seven.
Under Davis’ watch, Middle Tennessee made the 2013, 2016 and 2017 NCAA tournaments and defeated No. 2 seed Michigan State and No. 5 seed Minnesota in back-to-back seasons. He boasts five NCAA Tournament appearances as a head coach between the Blue Raiders and Vandals.
With a 25-8 record in 2018, Middle Tennessee reached the 24-win mark for the sixth time in the last seven seasons, which in turn led to six postseason appearances during that period. The Blue Raiders won consecutive Conference USA regular season titles in Davis’ final two years, posting a 33-3 mark in C-USA play.
Davis’ Blue Raiders posted a 31-5 record in 2017, including a 17-1 mark in Conference USA play, setting a school record for overall victories and a C-USA record for league wins. Middle Tennessee swept the conference regular season and tourney titles on its way to a second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth that saw them topple No. 5 seed Minnesota, 81-72, in Milwaukee.
The Blue Raiders finished the 2016 season with a 25-10 mark and won their first Conference USA Tournament title just three years into their tenure. In the Big Dance, Davis led the Raiders to St. Louis as a No. 15 seed against Tom Izzo’s No. 2 seed and second-ranked Michigan State Spartans, directing one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history as the Blue Raiders captured a 90-81 win to move into the second round.
Middle Tennessee was a giant killer under Davis, posting a 12-11 record against seven different Power 5 teams from 2012 through 2018. Over the final three seasons, the Blue Raiders boasted a 7-1 record against the SEC and Big Ten, including the two NCAA Tournament wins.
Defense has long been a staple for Davis’ squads, as the Blue Raiders ranked top-two in C-USA in scoring defense in each of his final four seasons. That style of play has correlated to tremendous success on the road, including 23-3 record away from home over his last two campaigns.
With Davis’ emphasis on academics, Middle Tennessee was one of only six teams in 2017 and one of only seven in 2016 with a 100 percent graduation rate and also win an NCAA Tournament game that season – joining Kansas, Villanova, Duke, Notre Dame and Butler in both seasons as well as Iowa in 2016. Davis has graduated 52 consecutive MT student-athletes that exhausted their eligibility.
Davis excelled in ramping up fan support during his tenure as well, frequently surpassing season attendance marks while averaging a home crowd of nearly 7,000 in his final season. A Murphy Center attendance record of 11,807 was set for Western Kentucky in 2004, while 11,802 fans were on hand for the Tennessee game in 2009.
Davis coached 25 all-conference players and five players of the year at Middle Tennessee and signed five top-25 recruiting classes, including the No. 11 class in 2004. He left Murfreesboro as the all-time winningest coach for both the school and the Sun Belt Conference.
Before arriving at Middle Tennessee in 2002, Davis spent five seasons as the associate head coach at LSU under John Brady. With Davis assembling multiple top-five recruiting classes, the Tigers captured the SEC title in 2000 and reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in 13 years.
In two tours of duty as Idaho head coach in 1997 and from 1989-90, Davis compiled a 63-29 record, the best three-year total in the program’s history, and earned NCAA Tournament berths in 1989 and 1990.
Davis took the helm at Idaho before the 1989 season after two years as an assistant coach under Tim Floyd, and at the time, was the youngest Division I head coach in the nation at age 28. It was not the first time Davis had been the country’s youngest head coach. When he was hired as the head coach at Southwest Mississippi Community College in 1984, he became the youngest junior college coach in the nation at age 24. His youth served him well at Southwest Mississippi, as he put together a 39-20 record in two seasons. His 1986 squad won 22 games, posting the school’s first 20-win season in 17 years.
The son of former Mississippi State head coach Kermit Davis Sr., the younger Davis played for the Bulldogs and graduated from MSU in 1982, before beginning his coaching career at his alma mater as a graduate assistant.
He and his wife, Betty, have two daughters, Ally and Claire.
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