The winning streak is seven for the Murray State Racers after they held off a determined effort from the SIUE Cougars 82-72 Saturday at the Vadalabene Center in Edwardsville, Illinois.
With Ja Morant scoring 40 points and dishing out 11 assists, he also set the OVC single-game consecutive made free throw record on 21-of-21 and kept the Racers undefeated in the Ohio Valley Conference at 6-0. MSU (15-2) has won their last 17 league regular season games and their last 10 away from home.
Morant became the ninth Racer to score 40 points when he hit for 40, with 21 points from the free throw line, while hitting 8-of-17 from the field and dishing out 11 assists for his 11th double-double this season. Shaq Buchanan scored 14 points and Darnell Cowart scored 11 points off the bench.
The win was the hardest to get in the four-game OVC swing that started last week at UT Martin and then Southeast Missouri and into this week with a game Eastern Illinois. Seven minutes into the game, SIUE led by nine points when the score was 23-14. Morant got the Racers back into the lead with three-straight 3-pointers and four free throws to make it 28-27 Racers with 6:23 before half. At the intermission, MSU led the Cougars 40-38. In the second half, SIUE tied it 46-46 only 2:15 into the final stanza and trailed by a point (57-56) with 10:43 remaining. The Racers finally put the game away on a pair of Brion Sanchious free throws with 53 seconds left. MSU got the separation they needed when they held the Cougars to only one field goal in the final four minutes in the game.
Game NotesSuccessfully navigating their longest road swing of the season, the Racers won games at UT Martin, Southeast Missouri, Eastern Illinois and SIUE over the last two weeks by a combined score of 348-277 and had a margin of victory of 17.7 points per game.
Ja Morant is pushing to become the 46th member of the MSU 1000-Point Club. After his 40 points scored at SIUE, Morant has 818 in 49 career games at Murray State. Morant is also taking aim at the all-time assist mark held by hall of famer Don Mann who had 531 assists for the Racers from 1985-89. After 11 against SIUE, Morant has 382 assists at MSU.
Morant is the ninth Racer to reach 40 points in a single game and the first since Jonathan Stark had 41 in a double-overtime win over Tennessee Tech in the OVC Tournament on 3-1-17. Marcus Brown’s 45 points in a game in 1995 is still the standard, for now.
MSU Single Game Scoring List12-16-1995 Marcus Brown 45 Wash.-Mo H W02-09-1966 Herb McPherson 44 Middle Tenn. H W12-05-1996 Vincent Rainey 43 Alcorn State H W02-27-2001 Isaac Spencer 42 Tennessee St. H W OVC Trn, Murray12-25-1997 De’Teri Mayes 42 Arkansas N W San Juan, P.R.03-01-2017 Jonathan Stark 41 Tenn. Tech N W OVC Tournament01-19-1952 Bennie Purcell 41 Ky. Wesleyan A L01-19-2019 Ja Morant 40 SIUE H W12-22-1952 Garrett Beshear 40 Dayton H W12-29-1953 Garrett Beshear 40 Marshall A L
Morant’s 21-of-21 game from the free throw line easily surpassed the MSU record of 14-of-14. It also set the OVC record formerly held by Jim Sandfoss of Morehead State against Marshall in 1966 of 17-of-17. Morant’s 21 free throws was just shy of the OVC mark of 24 by Kenny Sidwell of Tennessee Tech against Eastern Kentucky in 1954. MSU’s previous record of 14-of-14 was accomplished four other times including: 01-04-2018 Jonathan Stark vs SE Missouri; 01-05-2014 Jeffery Moss vs UT Martin; 11-14-2008 Jeffery McClain vs St. Catharine and 12-13-1966 Don Duncan vs Oglethorpe.
The Racers return home next week for a pair of home games at the CFSB Center against Belmont Thursday and Tennessee State on Saturday. The Racers host the Bruins at 8 p.m. Thursday on ESPNU with Matt Martucci and Noah Savage calling the action. The tip time for the TSU game Saturday is 7 p.m.
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