The Murray State Racers rolled to a 3-0 start and their seventh-straight Ohio Valley Conference road win Thursday in a 98-77 victory over the UT Martin Skyhawks at the Elam Center in Martin, Tennessee.
The Racers (12-3, 3-0 OVC) travel to Southeast Missouri Saturday to play the Redhawks in a 4:15 p.m. tip at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
The records watch was in full swing in the second half when Ja Morant set the Murray State record for assists in a game with 18 (Surpassing Chad Townsend’s mark of 16 from 1997) and Tevin Brown tied the MSU record with nine 3-point baskets. Brown finished with a career-high 31 points on 9-of-14 from long range and Morant was three rebounds from a triple-double with 26 points and 18 assists. His 18 assists is the highest in NCAA D-I this season. Shaq Buchanan gave the Racers three players with 20 or points with 21 points and four steals.
In the first half, Brown hit four-straight 3-point baskets to give the Racers a 21-17 lead in just under 9:30 of game time. MSU ended the half by hitting 4-of-5 shots with a 12-4 run to get a 49-42 lead at the intermission. Brown had the hot hand and was 5-of-6 from long range for 17 points.
In the second half, Brown’s sixth 3-pointer and a dunk by Buchanan put MSU in front 61-48 Racers at 16:21 remaining. MSU’s lead grew as large as 21 points in the closing minutes.
Game NotesMorant’s 18 assists tops the Murray State mark of 16 by Chad Townsend (02-20-1997 vs EIU). He was only two shy of the 20 by James Johnson, of Middle Tennessee (vs. Freed-Hardeman, 1985-86) for the OVC record. Morant has the best assist game this season in all of NCAA D-I.
With Brown scoring 31 points an Morant and Buchanan getting 26 and 21, the Racers had three with 20-plus scoring for the first time since Jonathan Stark (26), Damarcus Croaker (25) and Bryce Jones (21) did it against Tennessee State (12-31-16).
Brown’s nine 3-pointers ties the Murray State record since the 3-point shot was put into the game in 1986. Brown is the third Racer to do it. The last was Jonathan Stark at South Dakota State in overtime (12-17-2016) and Justin Burdine who had nine in a regulation game against Eastern Kentucky at home (2-21-2002).
Morant has had some big-time dunks this season, but the one he had tonight with 7:10 remaining might be his best work of art yet. He took a baseline pass nd dunked with his right hand over a UTM defender. The video was quickly getting national attention on social media and ESPN when the game was final.
The Racers have won the last three meetings with UTM since a 2017 loss to the Skyhawks in the semifinals of the OVC Tournament. MSU leads the all-time series 50-7. UTM comes to the CFSB Center (Feb 21) for game two.
The Racers have won four in a row since a loss (Dec. 22) at Auburn and have won 8-of-10.
Associate AD – Media Relations
Murray State University