Racers struggle ahead of final stretch


Junior forward DJ Burns puts up a tough layup on his way to 7 points for the Racers against the Drake Bulldogs. Photo by Rebeca Mertins Chiodini/The News.

Jakob Milani, Sports Edior

After a 43-point loss at Indiana State on Saturday, Feb. 4, Murray State’s men’s basketball team suffered a 92-68 loss against the Drake Bulldogs on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

The two losses come after barely squeaking out a win against Belmont Feb. 1 winning 83-82. The Racers’ loss to the Sycamores was the worst loss for the Racers since a 93-29 loss against St. Bonaventure in 1960.

As for the loss against Drake, it’s the Racers’ worst home loss since a 91-65 loss to Houston in 1955. The win also moved Drake up to first place in the Valley.

The win over Belmont had the Racers, as well as three other teams in the MVC, just one game out of first place. But following the two most recent losses, the Racers sit at an 8-7 conference record, putting them at eighth in the MVC and three games out of first with just five games remaining.

Where do the problems start for the Racers? Following the loss on Tuesday, Head Coach Steve Prohm pointed out one side of the ball that has been holding the team back.

“I’m just disappointed in our defensive identity this week,” Prohm said. “We’re one of the bottom defensive teams in the league. At home, we’ve been able to outscore people. That’s why it’s been hard to win on the road. We’ve just got a lot of work to do, and it takes time.”

As Prohm pointed out, the home and away records in the MVC contrast highly with one another. Murray State is 6-2 at home against conference opponents, with losses to SIU and Drake. On the road, however, the Racers are just 2-5, picking up wins at Valparaiso and Evansville, two teams that are in the bottom three teams in the Valley.

Despite the Racers’ positive record, they allow more points per game than they score. While their 70.8 points per game are enough for sixth in the Valley, above SIU, their 72.2 points given up per game is the third worst, with only Valpo and Evansville allowing more.

Prohm also touched on the Racers’ competition so far this season and echoed prior thoughts from earlier in the season. 

“It’s just a tough league,” Prohm said. “It’s physical, and you gotta be connected. And we aren’t connected at the level you need to be to win these tough games right now.”

Over most major statistical categories, the Racers sit anywhere from sixth in the conference to 10th in the conference. They are last in total steals in the Valley and 11th in forced turnovers but fifth in the Valley in free throw percentage.

The Valley is very competitive, as shown by the records for each team this year. But in a race so crowded, a team can’t afford to lose back-to-back games, especially by a combined 67 points. Where do the Racers go from here?

Murray State has five games remaining before the conference tournament. While a first round bye isn’t completely out of the question, it would require the team to win their last five games and a lot of shifting at the top.

The final five games start with a trip to Bradley, which sits at fourth in the league. After that, the Racers have two home games and two away games, all of which are against teams with the same records as or worse than the Racers.

It’s possible Murray State wins out to end the season as, despite their record on the road, they have played a lot of close opponents, with the exception of Indiana State and Drake.

March Madness is less than a month away, and the Valley is still in a scramble. While some teams are attempting to grab that top spot, others are simply hoping to grab the first round bye. But as spectators have seen from the MVC this season, it is truly anyone’s game.


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