Boogie Yates still remembers the disrespect over a decade later. It was his senior year, January 2010. Middle Tennessee had just beaten Western Kentucky in a slog of a game, 47-46. Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field. But a win in the Murphy Center is a win. And with a trip to Bowling Green, Ky. on tap for Saturday, just a little bit of momentum.
Then he heard what Hilltopper head coach Ken McDonald said after the game.
"The Western Kentucky coach at the time was like 'oh it wasn't Middle Tennessee State, they're not a good team, we just had a bad night. We'll get things right on Saturday and we're going to beat them,'" Yates recalled. "Me and Coach Davis talked about it on Wednesday and I said 'Coach, don't worry about it. We're gonna beat Louisiana Monroe. Don't worry about that, we've got that. And we won't lose Saturday.'"
The Blue Raiders did beat Louisiana Monroe on the road on Thursday, then handily beat Western Kentucky in their house that weekend in front of a national audience on ESPN2. Folks these days remember that trip 100 miles north as the game where Yates' 28 points finally catapulted him to the top of the Middle Tennessee all-time scoring list. For Yates, he was just ecstatic he beat the Hilltoppers on their own court, and that he started a run of Blue Raider dominance in the rivalry.
"I made maybe three threes within the first five minutes of the game. I just made a point that we aren't going to lose this game. If I've got to get carted off this court today, we will not lose this game," Yates said. "There was nothing they could do about it that day, because to me, it was a lack of respect. I also had never won in that building my whole career, and that was going to be my last time being there. So all of those things added up.
"Forget the individual school record. Great for me! Congratulations to me for that. But I was more happy that for the next four or five seasons, Western couldn't touch us."
Yates was right, of course. MT had a 6-1 record over the next five seasons against WKU, and went to the postseason three times in that stretch, including Coach Kermit Davis' first NCAA Tournament berth as head coach at Middle Tennessee.
Davis said that Yates, beyond his own personal accolades, was a team-first player, and helped lay the groundwork for the elite teams of the mid 2010s that came after him.
"That's just kind of Boogie, he was always team first," Davis said. "Every day he came to the gym, he came with a smile on his face, one of the first ones there every day. When your very best players are the ones who are the most coachable, it sure makes it fun."
Davis predicts that Yates, the only Blue Raider men's basketball player to be a three-time All-Sun Belt team selection, the all-time leading scorer in MT men's basketball history with 1,775 points, will be the first of many of his former players to get inducted into the Blue Raider Hall of Fame. For Yates, that's exactly the way he wanted it when he played here.
"We wanted to be a winning program," Yates said. "It was never about me as an individual. I always wanted to win. To have that season my senior year, I just felt the tide shifting a certain direction. It felt like it was changing."
Perhaps the most remarkable part of Yates' career was that it could've been even better if not for injuries that slowed him down as an upperclassman. He had three different surgeries the summer between his junior and senior year to help with his knee and back problems. Davis estimates Yates would've easily surpassed 2,000 career points had he stayed fully healthy. But that was never on the front of Yates' mind. He didn't even know setting the scoring record was something within his grasp until before his junior year, when SID Tony Stinnett mentioned he was on pace to take the record.
Mostly though, Yates is humble in his moment. Davis said his love for Middle Tennessee State and Murfreesboro runs deep, continuing to stay in contact with not just the men's basketball program, but the athletic department as a whole. As for Yates, getting the call he had made the Hall of Fame just reinforced that gratefulness he already had for his alma mater.
"I put in a lot of time and effort and blood, sweat and tears into improving things during my time there," Yates said. "To get that call from my man (Director of Athletics Chris) Massaro, to have Coach Davis on the call, to see other people I actually went to school with during the time I was there to see them on the call with us, it was just a sense of gratefulness to know that my work and time there didn't go unnoticed."