Murray State sophomore Ja Morant posted his second triple-double in his Racer career to lead the Racers to a 77-66 victory over the visiting Missouri State Bears Saturday at the CFSB Center in Murray, Kentucky.
The Racers (3-0) stayed undefeated in the early season as they hit the road for the first time Monday in Tuscaloosa against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Morant, already with one triple-double at MSU (last December against Eastern Illinois at home), the star sophomore poured in 29 points on 9-of-18 from the field including 6-of-12 from the 3-point line. He also added 13 rebounds and 12 assists. Morant’s points, 3-point baskets and rebounds are all career highs in his short time at Murray State that is only 35 games old.
Shaq Buchanan added his own big game with 20 points on 7-of-13 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Buchanan and Morant combined for 49 points on 16-of-31 from the field in the game.
After beginning the game on a Morant to Buchanan alley-oop dunk, the Racers jumped to a 10-point lead at the 14:34 mark on a Morant 3-pointer. When Tevin Brown hit a three and Anthony Smith scored on a put-back, the Racers were in front 18-6 and later made it 20-9 at the 10:54 mark.
Murray State led 35-25 at the half.
The Racers had their largest lead of the game when Darnell Cowart hit a pair of free throws with 13:27 remaining. The Bears cut the lead to 64-58 with 3:39 left to raise the tension level in the arena. Morant hit a pair of threes to keep the Racers in front 70-60 with 2:41 left and then he put an exclamation point on the evening with his sixth 3-pointer of the game with 11 seconds on the clock.
The Racers defended the 3-point line in a big way as they held the Bears to 1-of-16 for the night for seven percent.
Murray State also won the battle of the boards 36-21.
Game NotesJa Morant is no Stanger to the rare ground of the triple-double. He got his second as a Racer tonight. Morant’s line was: 29 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. His first came last Dec. 28, 2017 against Eastern Illinois when he had 11 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists. Murray State’s only other triple-double (in records that date back to 1984) came in 2009 when Isacc Miles had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists against UT Martin (Feb. 23, 2009).
For the first time this season, the Racers saw two players reach 20 points in scoring. This was accomplished three times in the 2017-18 season and Jonathan Stark was involved in all of them. The first saw him score 21 while Terrell Miller added 24 against Auburn (Dec. 19, 2017). The second was on Jan. 25, 2018 against Morehead State when Stark had 23 and Miller 21. The third instance was Stark scoring 29 points and Ja Morant 23 against SEMO on Feb. 1, 2018.
Today was Missouri State’s first appearance at Murray State. The Racers now lead the all-time series 3-2 after games played in 1943, 1952, 2011 and 2014.
The Racers pushed their home in streak to 12 in a row and have the best streak in the arena since MSU won 18-straight from November of 2014 to December of 2015 under Coach Steve Prohm and Matt McMahon. The Racers are 37-10 in the four seasons of home games in the Coach Matt McMahon era. MSU still has a ways to go to get close to the all-time record of 47. The Racers had the longest streak in the nation when it ended in 2000. The streak closed out old Racer Arena starting in 1996 under Coach Mark Gottfried and opened what was then called the Regional Special Events Center (now CFSB Center) before it was halted by SEMO in 2000 when Tevester Anderson was coach.
Racer fans should mark Dec. 15 on the calendar for a special day when MSU hosts Jackson State. Coach Tevester Anderson will be back on campus for the game that involves the last two teams he coached in his distinguished career. Anderson assisted Mark Gottfried from 1995-98 and had a big part in three OVC regular season titles and a pair of NCAA appearances. As head coach from 1998-03, Coach T’s Murray State teams won 103 games in five seasons including two OVC titles and two trips to the Big Dance. Anderson ended his career at Jackson State (2003-13) by winning two SWAC titles and taking JSU to one NCAA appearance.
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