The Murray State Racers began their 93rd season of basketball Friday by winning the season and home opener 118-61 over the Brescia Bearcats as they also began the 20th season in the CFSB Center in Murray, Kentucky.
The win sends the Racers into Monday’s clash with Middle Tennessee in a 7 p.m. tip at the CFSB Center.
Byron Hawkins led a Racer attack that scored the third-largest margin of victory in the history of the CFSB Center with 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting including a red-hot 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Jalen Dupree added 17 points and eight rebounds, while Terrell Miller, Jr. added a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Shaq Buchanan added 11 points and Anthony Smith tossed in 10. Ja Morant led the way with 11 assists as the Racers compiled 26 assists on their 40 field goals.
Leading 18-14 with 12:23 left in the first half, the Racers hit the gas pedal and knocked out a 17-0 run over the next 4:31 to gain 35-14 lead. The run to the end of the half over the final 12:23 was 42-16 for Murray State when they reached the intermission leading the Bearcats 60-30. Hawkins scored 20 points in the half on 7-of-9 shooting.
Any thought of the Racers cruising in the second half were quickly extinguished when they hit the Bearcats with a 25-2 run to start the half to get an 85-32 lead with 15:20 left.
The Racers largest lead was the final of 118-61.
MSU’s win is the third-largest margin in the 20 seasons of the CFSB Center, topped by only the 2004 game against Colorado-Colorado Springs which was a 109-44 win for a 65-point margin and a 59-point win in 2009 against Tennessee Wesleyan 108-49.
Byron Hawkins’ 28-point debut is the best for a Racer since 2000. The previous best was 27 points by Antoine Whelchel against Gardner Webb in 2000. Whelchel hit amazing 12-of-14 from the field and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Jonathan Stark and Terrell Miller are tracking to become the 43rd and 44th members of the MSU 1000-Point Club this season. Stark scored 13 points tonight and now has (736), while Miller’s 13 points moved him to (542).
As the 70th season of basketball in the Ohio Valley Conference gets going, Stark and Miller are the first and third returning scorers in the OVC for 2017-18. Additionally, Miller is the second leading returning rebounder and Stark is second in assists.
Stark, already named to the Lou Henson Award watch list and OVC Preseason Player of the Year, hit 3-of-3 3-point baskets tonight. Last season, he made at least one 3-point basket in his first 21 games and ended it with a school-record 108. He surpassed the Murray State record of 103 by De’Teri Mayes in the 1997-98 season.
The Racers won’t have to wait long to get back on the court again and see a rise in the level of competition. Former Ohio Valley Conference Member Middle Tennessee (1952-00) comes to the CFSB Center Monday for a 7 p.m. game.
The Blue Raiders opened their season at home Friday with a 104-52 win over Trevecca. MTSU was the top pick in the Conference USA preseason poll. They also received four votes in the season-opening Associated Press Top 25 Poll.
Dave Winder – Department of Athletics – Murray State State University
Associate AD – Media Relations