The Murray State Racers rolled to their seventh-straight victory with 75-66 win Saturday over the SIUE Cougars at the Vadalabene Center in Edwardsville, Illinois.
MSU improved to 12-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference and retained a share of first place with Belmont who defeated Tennessee Tech 75-70.
Improving to 20-5, the Racers have secured their 29th 20-win season in 93 seasons in program history and their ninth in the last 15 seasons.
Jonathan Stark scored 14 of his 28 points from the free throw line, while Ja Morant was only two assists from a triple-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Terrell Miller, Jr., added 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
Leading 33-31 at the half, the Racers got going in the second half with a 15-3 run to start the half on baskets by Brion Sanchious and Byron Hawkins. The lead went to 48-34 when Hawkins scored six-straight points with 14:30 left to play. The Racers handled SIUE’s leading scorer Jalen Henry and held him to no field goals in the first half of the second half. Sanchious was guarding him most of the time and he picked up four steals in the second half as a reward.
In the first half, the Racers had a largest lead of 22-14 at the 7:43 mark, but saw SIUE go on a 9-0 run to get their first lead at the 25-24 with 3:51 on the clock. However, even though they didn’t play their best for some of the half, the Racers were pleased with how it ended. SIUE ran the clock down as far as they could and missed a 3-point try with 3.1 seconds remaining. Morant grabbed the rebound and scooted to mid-court in a blink where he hit Stark for his first 3-pointer of the game in five attempts. It gave the Racers a 33-31 lead at the intermission. MSU was 2-of-10 from long range in the first half, but held SIUE to 0-of-9.
MSU ended the day hitting 46 percent from the field on 23-of-50, while they held SIUE to 38 percent on 21-of-55, including 18 percent from 3-point line on 3-of-15.
Coach Matt McMahon has his first 20-win season with the Racers and is the 13th Murray State head coach in 16 that has at least one.
This is the 29th 20-win season in the 93rd season of Murray State basketball and 24th in their 70 seasons of OVC basketball.
In the 15 seasons since 2003-04 when Mick Cronin took over the Racers’ program, MSU has recorded nine 20-win seasons. The Racers had a run of six in a row from 2009-15.
Terrell Miller continues to make a run at the MSU 1000-Point Club. After today’s 15-point performance, the senior forward has 906 in his 58 games at MSU.
Jonathan Stark is making a run at the all-time two-year scoring mark at Murray State. His 28 points today puts him at 1,245. Cameron Payne (2013-15) is in second place at 1,279 and DT Mayes (1996-98) is on top at 1,340.
Stark is making a run at 200 made 3-point baskets. He hit a pair of them today and now has 195. When he gets to 200, Stark will be the sixth Racer to do it at Murray State, however, with only 58 games played at MSU, he ranks with the four-year MSU players who played in more than 100 games.
MSU Career Made 3-Point Baskets
1. Isaiah Canaan (2009-13) 132 games, 304
2. Frank Allen (1989-93) 116 games, 251
3. Jeffrey Moss (2012-16) 129 games, 218
4. Tyler Holloway (2005-09) 121 games, 207
5. Jonathan Stark (2016-18) 58 games, 195
MSU has won four in a row away from home. Since a loss at Belmont (Jan. 18), the Racers are working on a month without a defeat. MSU has also won seven-straight games overall.
The Racers come home next week for their final regular season games at the CFSB Center. On Thursday, MSU hosts Jacksonville State at 7 p.m. as they try to even the season series with the Gamecocks after they dropped a 76-71 defeat there Jan. 11. On Saturday (Feb. 17) Tennessee Tech comes to town when the Racers will honor seniors Terrell Miller, Jr., and Jonathan Stark and team student-manager Kyle Morris. The day is also Murray State Hall of Fame day as the class of 2018 will be honored at halftime. Racer greats Frank Allen and Isaiah Canaan will be enshrined. The Murray State Hall of Fame induction ceremony is Friday (Feb. 16) at the CFSB Center.
Dave Winder – Department of Athletics – Murray State State University
Associate AD – Media Relations