The Murray State Racers turned in a gutsy performance in an 87-81 victory over the Morehead State Eagles at the CFSB Center in Murray, Kentucky.
The win moved the Racers (15-5) to 7-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference and kept them in second place, one game off the lead, as Murray State welcomes Eastern Kentucky to the CFSB Center Saturday.
Jonathan Stark overcame a slow shooting night with a 12-of-12 effort from the free throw line to score a game-high 23 points as part of five MSU players in double-figure scoring. Terrell Miller added a double-double on 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Ja Morant tossed in 17 points with Shaq Buchanan adding 14 and Jalen Dupree 10.
The Racers got out of the gate in good fashion in taking a 19-9 lead at the 10:25 mark on a bucket by Morant and they led again by 10 points when it was 25-15 on a basket by Miller with 5:20 before half. When Morant tipped in a shot with 2:19 left, the lead had grown to 33-18 for the Racers, but the Eagles dug in and cut it to 36-26 at the intermission.
Once Morehead State battled back to get the game close with 10:45 left when the Racers lead was 60-58, the game had the feeling that the Eagles were in it until the end. They in fact took a brief lead when the score was 68-67 with 6:08 remaining. The Racers hit some big shots down the stretch including Morant’s 3-pointer to make it a 77-72 MSU lead with 2:47 left. Stark scored the Racers’ final six points from the free throw line to seal it.
Stark’s 12-of-12 effort from the free throw line meant he took a run at the 14-of-14 record is already tied this season in the SEMO game (Jan. 4). Stark is one of four MSU players that have hit 14-of-14 in one game. The others are Jeffery Moss (2014 vs UTM), Jeffery McClain (2008 vs St. Catharine) and Don Duncan (1966 vs Oglethorpe).
The Racers were 22-of-23 from the line to night for a percentage of .957. They came close to breaking the MSU single-game mark of 24-of-24 against Austin Peay in 1966.
MSU has five players in double-figure scoring tonight, their fourth game of the season. In the season opener, MSU had six get to 10 points against Brescia.
Part of the fan experience tonight was the unveiling of the new center video scoreboard. The project was completed over the last two weeks while the Racers were away for four games. As the old scoreboard did for 20 seasons, the new one is sure to be a big part of Racer basketball over the next 20.
The Racers have won their last five at home in the CFSB Center since a loss (Dec. 19) to Auburn. The Racers are now 240-44 (.845) in their 20 seasons at The Bank and 142-27 (.840) in OVC games. They’ve won 11 in a row over the Eagles since the last loss in 2003.
Coach Matt McMahon, in his third season with the Racers, is 48-36 (.571) overall and 25-16 (.609) in OVC games.
Dave Winder – Department of Athletics – Murray State State University
Associate AD – Media Relations