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The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Lack of offense leads to Racers loss

Sophomore forward Demond Robinson and sophomore guard DaQuan Smith block out for a rebound against Morehead State. (Photo courtesy of Racer Athletics)

Gage Johnson


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It was a tale of two halves in Morehead, Kentucky, as the Murray State men’s basketball team’s deadeye offense was nowhere to be found in the second half, giving Morehead State its 10th straight win at 66-56.

Morehead State came into this matchup with the Racers not losing since the new year and Murray State had revenge on its mind after the Eagles snapped its 25-game home winning streak in January.

The fire from both teams burned brightly early, as the two came out of the gates red hot offensively.

Morehead State took charge early on, using a 9-0 run to jump out to a 17-8 lead. With just under 12 minutes to go in the first half, freshman forward Johni Broome and senior forward James Baker Jr. were doing most of the damage, combining for 13 points.

The Racers bounced back with a run sparked by sophomore guard Justice Hill. He hit junior forward KJ Williams for a layup, banked in a three and got a steal before going into a media timeout trailing 19-16. 

However, a technical foul issued to Morehead State led to two free throws and a three from junior guard Tevin Brown, giving Murray State a 10-0 run and a 21-19 lead with just under eight minutes to play in the opening half.

The Racers were on a roll and couldn’t miss from deep, going 7-12 from beyond the arc paired with 10 points off Eagles’ turnovers, taking a 33-26 lead with 3:52 left in the first half.

Morehead State had its answer, holding Murray State scoreless for the remainder of the half and going on a 6-0 run, leaving them trailing the Racers 33-32 heading into the locker room.

The Eagles carried their momentum into the second half, looking to take control of the game and put Murray State away for the second time this season.

Morehead State stifled the Racers’ offense, leaving Murray State shooting a 2-10 clip to start the half.

Meanwhile, Morehead State was shooting 7-15 from the field and took a 47-38 lead. The Eagles continued to carry this offensive momentum throughout the half, but Murray State kept hanging around.

The Racers seemed to be making some headway with a quick 5-0 run to cut their deficit to 52-48, but Morehead State had an answer.

Murray State couldn’t buy a bucket over the last seven minutes of play and the Eagles took advantage. An 8-0 run put Morehead State up 60-48 and the Racers couldn’t cut it below single digits after the run, falling to the Eagles 66-56.

Following the game Head Coach Matt McMahon gave all the credit to Morehead State and its coaching staff for the tough team that they’ve built.

“I think Coach Spradlin’s done a terrific job,” McMahon said. “They’ve built their program this season on being really physical, disciplined and tough at the defensive end of the floor. I thought they won every toughness stat in the game tonight. Points in the paint, layups finishing plays, obviously rebounding, getting to the free throw line. I thought they were just really in tune defensively and made it really difficult on us to score.”

Williams, who has been on a tear recently, was held to just seven points and two rebounds by the Eagles. McMahon said that Broome, who finished with four blocks on the night, played a big part in the success of their paint defense.

“I think every time we got in the paint, Johni Broome really affected every shot,” McMahon said. “He either blocked it or made us change it. We just struggled to finish plays in there and I want to give them a lot of credit. They are tremendous defensively. They’re the number one defense in our league.”

The win is Morehead State’s 10th straight and they now look like an OVC Championship contender after years of being in the lower half of the conference.

“They appear to me, at least from the outside looking in, that there’s great belief and confidence within the team and that they enjoy playing with each other,” McMahon said. “They have their roles well defined and each player has bought into that role.”

The loss puts Murray State at 8-9 overall with a 5-7 OVC record. The Racers have a tough opponent in the OVC powerhouse Eastern Kentucky ahead of them.

Despite the struggles, McMahon isn’t worried and said the team is taking things one game at a time in an attempt to grab wins and climb the standings.

“When we made some changes coming out of that nine-day window where we had some cancellations, over the next six games all of our offensive numbers have gone up…” McMahon said. “I think when you do that we’re getting higher quality shots, we just gotta step up and knock them down and finish plays. Right now for us, we can’t think too much big picture. We gotta now turn our attention to finding a way to prepare for 40 minutes of 94-foot pressure on Saturday against Eastern Kentucky.”

Murray State will take on EKU at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6, in Richmond, Kentucky.

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