The Murray State Racers earned an 81-72 victory over the Detroit Mercy Titans at Calihan Hall in Detroit Michigan as they head into the Christmas break with an 8-3 mark for their best start since 2012.
Freshman guard Ja Morant was one assist from a triple-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, while Jonathan Stark pumped in 21 points and Terrell Miller, Jr., added 14.
The Racers (8-3) being Ohio Valley Conference competition on Thursday (Dec. 28) when Eastern Illinois comes to the CFSB Center for a women’s/men’s doubleheader that begins at 5 p.m.
Coming out of halftime leading 40-36, the Racers made a push on a pair of baskets from Brion Sanchious for a 66-59 lead with 9:16 left. They kept the pressure on the Titans and had four-straight trips down the floor for scores with three-straight dunks from Jalen Dupree and Shaq Buchanan for a 77-69 lead with 1:08 left.
The Racers hit their first five tries from the 3-point line to start the game and when the fifth one dropped on a shot by Stark, the Racers led UDM 29-21 with 9:25 before the intermission. The Racers had a pair of eight-point leads in the opening 20 minutes. MSU had to adjust their attack in the final minutes of the half when Miller, Dupree and Buchanan each picked up their second personal foul.
The Racers have won back-to-back games with UDM and now lead the all-time series 3-1. MSU made their first trip to Calihan Hall since 2000.
The Racers went up against another big-time talent in UDM’s Kameron Chatman. Coming in scoring 18.1 points per game, MSU defended the Michigan transfer by holding him to 5-of-16 from the field and 16 points.
Stark and Miller continue their push to become the 43rd and 44th members of the MSU 1000-Point club. Stark sits at 902 points and Miller has 717.
MSU has won the rebound stat in all eight of their wins this season and won the battle of the boards against the Titans 36-32.
The Racers are certainly taking care of the ball this season. Entering the week, they were first in the OVC and 22nd in NCAA D-I in fewest turnovers. Tonight they had a manageable 13.
The Racers’ non-conference portion of the season is finished. At 8-3, the Racers have road wins over Wright State (80-61, Nov. 18), Illinois State (78-72, Dec. 9) and now UDM. A year ago, the Racers were 3-8 going into Christmas. This marks the Racers’ best start to the season since they were 9-3 in 2012.
The start of the OVC season less than a week away. MSU starts the quest for their 25th regular season title with four-straight games at the CFSB Center with Eastern Illinois and SIUE coming in on Dec. 28 and 30.
Dave Winder – Department of Athletics – Murray State State University
Associate AD – Media Relations