The Murray State men’s basketball team was picked second in Ohio Valley Conference preseason voting by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors and senior Shaq Buchanan and sophomore Ja Morant were named to the All-OVC Preseason Team.
The preseason voting was revealed at the DoubleTree Hotel in Evansville, Indiana, where the OVC Tournament will be played in March for a second season at the Ford Center.
With Buchanan and Morant leading the way, the Racers received nine of the possible 24 first place votes in the poll and was just behind Belmont for the top spot in the OVC’s first prediction about the 2018-19 season. Jacksonville State is third place in the poll and received seven first place votes, while Belmont had eight. Austin Peay was voted fourth, with Tennessee Tech, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Illinois, Tennessee State, Southeast Missouri, Morehead State, UT Martin and SIUE making up the rest of the poll.
Head coach Matt McMahon takes the Racers into his fourth season when they take on Brescia at the CFSB Center (Nov. 5) in an exhibition game. The Racers’ 94th season of collegiate basketball begins at home (Nov. 10) against Horizon League Tournament champion Wright State. The Racers also face Missouri State, Alabama, Auburn, Middle Tennessee, Evansville and Southern Illinois in a tough pre-conference schedule.
The Racers return three starters including sophomore point guard Ja Morant (Dalzell, S.C.) who was named All-OVC First Team and All-OVC Newcomer Team as a freshman. Morant started every one of the Racers’ 32 games and was 15th nationally with 6.2 assists per game. Among NCAA D-I freshman, only Oklahoma’s Trea Young was better with 8.7. Morant enters his sophomore season as the fifth returning scorer in the OVC at 12.7ppg, the eighth returning rebounder at 6.5rpg and the first returning assister at 6.3apg.
Shaq Buchanan and Brion Sanchious are seniors and give the Racers a total of three returning starters along with Morant. Sanchious (Pompano Beach, Fla.), is the glue that holds the Racers together on both ends of the floor. He made 61 percent of his 70 shots from 2017-18. Buchanan (Madison, Miss.) became a starter in the third game of the season and became a player that can do just about everything a team needs to win. He led the team with 50 steals (4th in the OVC) and tossed in 9.1ppg and grabbed 3.9rpg. Senior Anthony Smith (Suitland, Md.) appeared in all 32 games off the bench for the Racers and his experience and high energy will be even more important to the team this season.
MSU goes into the 2018-19 season trying to replace the big production they got from graduated seniors Jonathan Stark (OVC Player of the Year) 21.4ppg and Terrell Miller (All-OVC First Team) 15.1ppg. Their combined 1,168 points represented 46 percent of the team’s scoring. The Racers are coming off an impressive 2017-18 season that saw them win the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title and OVC Tournament title and appear in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012.
Head Coach Matt McMahon became the eighth-straight Racer coach to reach the NCAA Tournament. MSU (26-6, 16-2 OVC) won their final 12 games to win the OVC regular season championship. As the No. 1 seed at the OVC Tournament in Evansville, the Racers defeated Jacksonville State and Belmont to reach their 16th NCAA Tournament.
Associate AD – Media Relations
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