Basketball looks to finish season with win


Sophomore guard Brian Moore breaks down on defense against an Indiana State defender. Moore is averaging 8.5 points per game this season, including a career high against Belmont. Photo by Rebeca Mertins Chiodini/The News.

Jakob Milani, Sports Editor

After a season of ups, downs, new faces, old faces and some history being made along the way, the Racers’ first regular season in the MVC comes to a close on Sunday, Feb. 26, when they host Valparaiso.

In the first matchup between the two, all the way back on Dec. 4, 2022, Murray State left Valparaiso, Indiana, with a road win. The Racers defeated the Beacons 77-70 in overtime.

That win was just one of the Racers’ three wins on the road this season, which is worse than seven of the 11 other teams in the Valley, including Northern Iowa who, at the time, had a worse overall record than the Racers.

Murray State has a few saving graces heading into its final matchup before Arch Madness. One being that the game is home in the CFSB Center, where the Racers are 7-2 in conference play and 10-2 overall this season. 

Another factor is sophomore guard Brian Moore Jr.

When the Beacons hosted the Racers in December, the Harlem, New York born guard played just 8 minutes for the Racers, shooting 0-1 from the field and not having a stat on the sheet otherwise.

Since then, Moore has gone from averaging 3.5 points per game to 8.4, thanks to 10 different double-digit performances, including a career high 25 points against the Belmont Bruins.

But it’s not just a one-man show at Murray State. Junior guard Rob Perry has led the way for the Racers, averaging 14.4 points per game. He’s one of just three guys who average 10 or more points this season.

Joining Perry on that list is junior forward Jamari Smith, who is averaging 11.6 points per game this year, and sophomore guard JaCobi Wood who sits at 10.7. Wood also leads the team in assists this season with 130, making him the only Racer with over 100 assists.

One last thing to note in the Racers’ favor is the difference in records. Murray State sits at 15-14 overall this season with a 10-9 record in conference play, good enough for seventh in the conference standings.

As for Valpo, they post an 11-18 overall record with a 5-13 record in conference play, good enough for a tie at ninth place in the conference and five games back of the Racers.

While it may appear that the Racers can run away with the game, one barrier the Racers will have to overcome is senior forward Ben Krikke.

In his last two seasons in the Valley, Krikke has been named to the All-MVC third team both times. Prior to the 2022-23 season, he was named to the All-MVC Preseason First Team.

So far this season, Krikke has averaged a team high in points per game with 19.6, as well as a team high in rebounds per game with 5.9. He also has the most blocks for the Beacons with 26, and the second most assists on the team with 59. He’s currently shooting 54.8% from the field.

He’s been named MVC Player of the Week, including the most recent Player of the Week title. He has also set a career high in points twice this season after passing the 1000 career point milestone to start the season. His current career high is 34 points in a one point loss to UIC on Sunday.

Krikke’s partner in crime this season has been fifth-year guard Kobe King, who has scored double digit points in all 29 games he’s played this season, tied for the most games in MVC history. He averages 16.6 points per game on 43% shooting from the field.

Over the Beacon’s last seven games, only one of them has been a double-digit point loss. The Beacons have scratched and clawed their way into the other games, including a double-overtime loss to Drake, who currently is first in the Valley. 

Despite their record, the Beacons seem to be finding their groove just in time for the MVC tournament next week.

Murray State hosts the Beacons on Sunday, Feb. 26. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. After that, the teams will head to St. Louis for the MVC Tournament, starting on Thursday, March 2.

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