The Murray State Racers rolled to an 87-63 win over the SIUE Cougars and swept the first weekend of play in the in the Ohio Valley Conference with a pair of wins at the CFSB Center in Murray, Kentucky.
The Racers (10-3) are 2-0 in the OVC and have won four of their last six games. SIUE (4-9) fell to 0-2 in OVC play.
Johnathan Stark tied his season-high with an efficient night of 27 points on 5-of-7 from the 3-point line and 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Shaq Buchanan and Byron Hawkins each added 11 points, while Ja Morant tossed in 10 points.
With the game tied 4-4 less than three minutes into the contest, the Racers put together a 13-5 run that ended on a Terrell Miller, Jr., layup with 13:22 to go before half. Buchanan hit back-to-back threes to give the Racers a 36-26 lead at the 3:32 mark. MSU scored the final basket of the half with 47 seconds showing when Buchanan hit a jumper to give the Racers a 43-34 lead at the intermission.
The Racers started the second half on a 16-8 run, highlighted by an alley-oop dunk by Buchanan and back-to-back 3-pointers from Stark for a 59-42 lead with 15:01 remaining. The Racers pushed the lead to 20 with 10:50 remaining and cruised to the win from there.
The Racers are 18-3 all-time against SIUE and are 12-2 at home. The second game between the two will occur at the Vadalabene Center in Edwardsville, Ill., Feb. 10.
Racers’ coach Matt McMahon is now 43-34 in his third season at Murray State, including a 20-14 mark in OVC play. His teams have won 27 of 37 games at the CFSB Center.
Jonathan Stark and Terrell Miller are making a run to become the 43rd and 44th members of the MSU-1000 Point Club. After his 27 points against SIUE, Stark sits at 950. Miller has 735 after he scored seven points tonight against SIUE.
Stark was 5-of-7 from the 3-point line tonight. In the last four games against Auburn, Detroit Mercy, Eastern Illinois and SIUE, he’s (16-of-31) for a percentage of .516.
Anthony Smith is a big part of the Racers’ engine this season. Tonight, the first-year Racer scored six points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out three assists and made a pair of steals in 24 minutes of action.
MSU won the rebound battle over SIUE 41-34 and have done so in all 10 of their wins this season.
The Racers took a nine-point halftime lead and made it a blowout by lock-down defense in the second half. They held SIUE to 9-of-29 from the field (.310) and 4-of-13 (.308) from the 3-point line.
MSU now has four games this season with 10 or more made 3-point baskets. Tonight they were 10-of-19. They also hit double-digits against Brescia, Wright State and Marist.
The Racers have successfully navigated the first week of league play at 2-0 as they enjoy a four-game home stand at the start. After the Racers host SEMO and UTM next week, they have the challenge for heading out for a stretch of four-straight road games. MSU will play at Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech (Jan. 11 & 13) and at Belmont and Tennessee State (Jan. 18 & 20).
Dave Winder – Department of Athletics – Murray State State University
Associate AD – Media Relations