The Murray State Racers ran past the Southeast Missouri Redhawks Thursday 89-73 to give them a 3-0 start in the early stage of the race for the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title in a game played at the CFSB Center in Murray, Kentucky.
The Racers (11-3, 3-0 OVC) have won four consecutive games, while the Redhawks (7-9, 1-2 OVC) have lost two-of-three at the start of OVC play.
The star of the night was MSU senior guard Jonathan Stark who poured in a season-high 36 points and broke the MSU 28-year-old free throw streak record. Stark was 14-14 from the line and ended the game with 39 consecutive free throws surpassing the mark of Greg Coble who hit 33-straight in the 1989-90 season. Stark was solid in handling the ball as well with only one turnover in 38 minutes on the floor.
Ja Morant scored 17 points and dished out a game-high seven assists, while Terrell Miller, Jr., scored 11 points to go with seven rebounds. Jalen Dupree added 10 points.
Leading 23-22, Miller hit the first of back-to-back 3-point baskets for a 29-24 lead with 5:03 before half. Morant had a pair of steals and turned them into four points as the Racers’ lead grew to 10 with 1:15 on the clock. MSU finished the half outscoring SEMO 22-12 in the final six minutes to get a 45-34 lead at the intermission.
The Redhawks cut the MSU lead to as close as eight when it was 59-51 with 12:16 left to play, but that’s as close as they would get. Stark went to the line twice in a 30-second span and hit four-straight free throws to break the MSU record and to give MSU a 73-55 lead with 7:09 remaining. MSU’s largest lead was 22 (89-67) with 1:33 left after a jumper by Stark.
Jonathan Stark’s 36-point performance is his season-high and the top scoring game of the season for the team. It’s the fifth time he’s scored 30-plus points in his 47 games at Murray State. He has 25 games of 20 points or more.
Stark has hit 39 consecutive free throws for the Murray State record. The old mark stood since the 1989-90 season when Greg Coble hit 33 in a row. Here are the most recent streaks that made a run at Coble’s mark. 2016-17 season: Bryce Jones (25), Gee McGhee (24). 2015-16 season: Bryce Jones (23). 2013-14 season: Jeffery Moss (22), Cameron Payne (20).
Stark also tied the MSU single-game record for consecutive free throws on 14-of-14. Jeffery Moss tied it in 2014 against UT Martin and so did Jeffery McClain in 2008 against St. Catharine. The mark was first established by Don Duncan against Oglethorpe in 1966.
Jonathan Stark and Terrell Miller continue their run at becoming the 43rd and 44th members of the MSU 1000-Point Club. After scoring 36 tonight, Stark has 986 and with 11 points against SEMO, Miller sits at 745. Each has now played 47 games at MSU.
With his seven rebounds against SEMO, Miller has 377 and ranks 11th among MSU all-time two-year players. Duane Virgil (1997-99) is No. 10 on the list at 384. James Singleton (2001-03) is No. 1 with 632. Jarvis Williams (2013-15) is No. 2 with 631.
With the win, the Racers are 8-2 at home this season and 237-44 (.843) in 20 seasons of the CFSB Center.
The Racers are 44-34 in Coach Matt McMahon’s third season and 21-14 in OVC play. Additionally, the Racers are 28-10 at the CFSB Center in the McMahon era.
The Racers lead the all-time series with SEMO 57-21 and are 27-10 at home. MSU’s win is the first against the Redhawks since 2016. The Racers win after SEMO had made the two-game sweep of them last season.
Game two between the Racers and Redhawks is at the Show Me Center, Feb. 1, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
The Racers’ four-game home stand to start the OVC portion of the schedule ends Saturday when the UT Martin Skyhawks visit the CFSB Center. It’s a doubleheader day at The Bank with the women’s game at 5 p.m. and the men’s game at approximately 7 p.m. UTM is 6-10 overall and 1-2 in the OVC after a 75-69 loss at Austin Peay.
Dave Winder – Department of Athletics – Murray State State University
Associate AD – Media Relations
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