Basketball returns home for historic MVC match


Sophomore guard JaCobi Wood averages 12.3 points per game this season, scoring 23 points against Texas A&M, and 24 points against the University of Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of David Eaton/Racer Athletics

Jakob Milani, Sports Editor

History will be made in Murray on Thursday, Dec. 1 as the Murray State men’s basketball team hosts the Illinois State Redbirds in their first MVC matchup.

The Racers have played in the OVC for the last 74 years. But after agreeing to be a part of the MVC in the spring, Murray State takes on a whole new challenge.

Head Coach Steve Prohm said after the game against  the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the team has been preparing for their first MVC game the most.

“This is what we are building for, to put ourselves in the best position to compete for a conference championship,” Prohm said.”

Murray State opens as 12.5 point favorites in the game, with ESPN giving the Racers a 77.9% chance of winning.

“It’s our first home Missouri Valley game, which is a big deal,” Prohm said. “I hope everyone knows how big it is. We want to let this league know that this is gonna be the toughest environment to play in.”

So far this season, the Racers are 3-3, including a 90-53 win against Lindsey Wilson College at home and a 88-79 win over the 24th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies in the Myrtle Beach Invitational.

The third win came in the third place game of the Myrtle Beach Invitational where the Racers beat the Tulsa University Hurricanes 77-60.

Of the Racers’ three losses so far this season, two finished as one possession games, including a 71-69 loss to the University of Massachusetts in the Myrtle Beach Invitational semifinals.

Their other one possession loss came against the UT Chattanooga Mocs. The Racers lost the game 69-66 off a pair of free throws from the Mocs in the closing seconds. Junior guard Rob Perry scored 22 points in the loss, making eight shots from the field and three 3-pointers.

The opponent in the Racers’ first MVC game is the Illinois State Redbirds, who sit at 2-5 overall so far this season.

The Redbirds’ two wins came against Northwestern State University and Eastern Illinois University, an OVC opponent all too familiar to Murray State. 

Some notable losses for the Redbirds come from Western Illinois University, Western Kentucky University and Louisiana State University, where former Murray State Head Coach Matt McMahon is in charge. 

Some notable players on the Redbirds’ side include senior forward Kendall Lewis, averaging 12.7 points per game this season. In the win against Northwestern State, Lewis scored 24 points, along with 13 rebounds and three steals.

The Racers have had four guys averaging double-digit points so far this season, with junior forward Jamari Smith leading the way. He’s averaging 17.2 points per game this season with a season-high 19 in the games against St. Louis University and Tulsa University.

Perry averages 13.7 points per game, and sophomore guard JaCobi Wood averages 13.2 points. Wood’s season high of 24 points came in the Racers’ loss to Massachusetts.

Lastly,  sophomore forward Kenny White Jr. averages 10.7 points per game. White has been putting up high rebound numbers this season, with a season high of 8 against Chattanooga.

In the overall series, Murray State has won six times over the Redibirds, while Illinois State has taken just one win.

The historic matchup takes place at the CFSB Center. Tipoff for the game is set for 7 p.m.


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