Murray State basketball remains in tight MVC race


Freshman forward Justin Morgan puts up a three pointer against Indiana State on Saturday, Jan. 21. The Racers defeated the Sycamores 82-73. Photo by Rebeca Mertins/The News.

Jakob Milani, Sports Editor

With the college basketball season more than halfway over, conferences typically start to see the true competitors for the championship around this time of year.

However, in the MVC, it’s still a rush to the top for many teams on both sides of the conference.

For the men’s side, Murray State sits tied for seventh seed with Indiana State at 6-5, with Southern Illinois leading the pack at 9-2, just three games ahead of the Racers. The four teams below Murray State sit at 3-7 in conference play or worse, with Evansville at 0-10 so far.

On the women’s side, Murray State has a 4-4 conference record, tied for sixth in the conference with Southern Illinois. Illinois State leads the Valley at 7-1, also three games ahead of Murray State.

The Valley expanded from 10 to 12 teams this season, with the additions of Murray State, Belmont and University of Illinois-Chicago. While the catchphrase of “The Valley runs deep” was true in previous seasons, it seems to be even more so this year. 

Murray State men’s basketball Head Coach Steve Prohm spoke on the Valley  after a win against Indiana State on Saturday, Jan. 21. He said while the team is halfway through, anything is possible with how close the standings are.

“Now you know at the halfway point who’s in the mix,” Prohm said. “It’s about eight of us. It’s about two or three games separating everybody with a few to go, and it’s a brutal schedule. We just gotta be ready to go and play our best basketball over the next couple of weeks.”

Statistically, for the men’s side of the conference, Indiana State sits atop the conference offensively, averaging 77.5 points per game. Murray State, who scores an average of 70.9 points per game, sits at fifth offensively in the Valley. The Racers defeated Indiana State at home in their only meeting so far this season by a score of 82-73.

Defensively, SIU has been the best in the Valley, allowing just 60.68 points per game. Murray State sits at seventh defensively, allowing 69.57 points per game. SIU defeated Murray State in both games they played against each other.

Murray State women’s basketball Head Coach Rechelle Turner spoke after a 77-61 loss to Missouri State on Sunday, Jan. 22 about the team’s performance so far in the new conference. She said it’s a new league, and it’s been a tough transition, but they have to continue to play tough.

“I thought the Iowa trip was eye opening to our team that we’re in a different league now,” Turner said. “You don’t just show up and beat people cause you’re better. There’s not a lot of teams that we are bigger or better than in this league. So, we can’t back down.”

On the Iowa trip, the Racers dropped games to both Northern Iowa and Drake, putting the Racers at 0-2 in road games.

Turner went on to say while most people think it will take time to get to the top of a new league, she believes they don’t need all that time.

“We’re in a new league,” Turner said.”This is the hand we’ve been dealt, and we have to be ready to go right now. And we have been, for the most part. We better put our work boots on and go to work. It’s not gonna get any easier. You either fight or you fold in this league.”

One aspect both coaches can agree on, however, is the Valley is a challenge, but that’s part of the fun.

After the win against Indiana State, Prohm went on to say he lives for the competition the conference has brought. 

“This league isn’t easy,” Prohm said. “It’s what we signed up for. It’s fun though. We gotta keep growing and keep getting better. You can’t look back at your losses and say you should’ve won. It’s how to put ourselves in a position to win. I think there’s still strides we’ve gotta make here. We’ve gotta maximize these last 10 games and put ourselves in the best position to win.”

Turner gave praise to the rest of the teams after the Missouri State loss. She said it’s an amazing conference, but the challenge will always be there no matter who it is.

“This is a great conference with a lot of great teams,” Turner said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of great players and a lot of great coaches. It’s where we are. The challenge is before us, and we can either step up to the challenge or take a step back. And I’m not one to step away from challenges.”

Nine games remain for the men’s team before the conference tournament in St. Louis, Missouri. With so many teams still fighting for the top spot, it’s truly a toss up for who runs away with it.

As for the women’s team, 12 games remain in the regular season before the conference tournament in Moline, Illinois. While the records may not show it, it’s a similar race on that side.

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