The Murray State Racers took the Auburn Tigers to the end, but fell 81-77 in front of the largest crowd since 2013 at the CFSB Center as a Southeastern Conference team visited Murray, Kentucky for the first time since 1993.
The Racers had their four-game home streak snapped to fall to 7-3, while the Tigers improved to 10-1.
Trailing 42-36 coming out of halftime, the Racers Jonathan Stark got hot and scored 14 points in the first six minutes on 4-of-4 from 3-point range, but Auburn held a 55-52 lead with 14:30 left. The Racers took their first lead since the first half with 8:05 left on a pair of free throws from Ja Morant to make it 60-58.
With the Racers leading 67-66 with 4:14 left, the Tigers got separation on the shooting of Jared Harper. He hit a trio of 3-pointers for a 75-71 Auburn lead as the clock ticked under two minutes when the third one dropped. It was a blow the Racers couldn’t recover from in the little time left and they never got the game back to having a possession to either tie or regain the lead.
The Racers broke from the gate in fine fashion with a 12-2 lead in the first three and a half minutes. Auburn took its first lead with 9:11 before half at 20-18. Trailing by seven in the final 2:30, the Racers got three baskets from Jalen Dupree to keep it a six-point deficit at the intermission.
Terrell Miller, Jr., and Stark led the way for the Racers. Miller had a double-double by halftime and ended the day with 24 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, while Stark hit four-straight 3-point shots to start the second half to end with 21 points. Stark added a career-high five steals. The Racers also got 10 points each from Dupree and Shaq Buchanan. His eight rebounds were a career-high.
The Racers are now 1-4 all-time against Auburn and 12-31 all-time against teams from the SEC.
The 6,478 that watched the game at the CFSB Center represented the largest crowd at The Bank since a crowd of 7,489 showed up to see Isaiah Canaan and Ed Daniel’s senior night against SEMO on March 2, 2013. It was the first 6,000-plus crowd since UT Martin visited on Jan. 30, 2015 and 6,302 watched.
Jonathan Stark scored 21 points tonight and has 881 in his MSU career. Terrell Miller has 703 after his 24-point performance tonight.
Miller, who was 8-of-8 from the field Saturday against Marist and 5-of-5 from 3-point range, kept it going tonight by hitting his first two shots, both threes, against Auburn. That means over one game and about eight minutes of another, he was 10-of-10 from the field and 7-of-7 from the 3-point line.
Ja Morant started the night 16th in NCAA D-I and second among freshmen in assists per game at 6.7. He helped the Racers along tonight with five assists.
The Racers play their final game before Christmas Friday at Detroit Mercy. Tip time at Calihan Hall in Detroit, Michigan is set for 7 p.m. Eastern Time. The Titans are 4-8 after dropping an 81-73 defeat at home tonight against East Tennessee State.
Dave Winder – Department of Athletics – Murray State State University
Associate AD – Media Relations