Memphis, TN – While the 21st-ranked Memphis Tigers enter conference affair.
Murray State entered the weekend as one of just 12 team nationally with an unblemished record (9-0), and what makes the outstanding start all the more impressive is that it has come under the watch of first-year head coach Steve Prohm. His Racers are coming off a 75-58 romp over Dayton last Sunday and have been idle ever since. They are members of the Ohio Valley Conference and have to be considered favorites to win that league.
As for Memphis, it has put together three consecutive wins to move to 5-2 overall, and the only two losses thus far came to Michigan and Georgetown on a neutral court. The Tigers, who are 3-0 at home, won their first only true road game of the season to date on Monday by a 71-54 final over Miami. Once again, Josh Pastner's team is expected to win Conference USA.
Murray State and Memphis have met on 60 previous occasions with the Tigers capturing 34 wins, but the programs haven't squared off since 2002.
Isaiah Canaan was outstanding for Murray State in the 17-point romp over Dayton last time out, as he handed out five assists and scored 21 points on the strength of a 5-of-8 effort from three-point range. Latreze Mushatt added 14 points off the bench, while Ivan Aska pitched in 13 points. The Racers connected on 54.9 percent of their field goal attempts, including 9-of-15 from three-point range, and forced 17 turnovers in the affair. Canaan has paced the club in scoring in three straight games and in seven of the nine affairs to date, and he is netting 20.3 ppg while shooting 50.8 percent from behind the arc. Donte Poole provides 13.0 ppg, and Aska added 12.7 ppg for Murray State, which is posting 74.4 ppg while allowing 60.1 ppg to foes. The team has featured the same starting lineup in all nine games, a major key to the early success.
Will Barton has clearly emerged as the go-to guy at the offensive end of the court for Memphis, as he is averaging 19.4 ppg on 52.7 percent shooting from the field. Far more than just a scorer, Barton is ripping down 8.0 rpg as well to pace the team in that department by a considerable margin. Joe Jackson checks in with 12.4 ppg for the Tigers, who are getting 10.4 ppg from Adonis Thomas off the bench. Barton was downright dominant in the 17-point victory over Miami-Florida last time out, as he exploded for 27 points and 14 rebounds in 39 minutes of action. No other player on the Memphis roster scored in double figures, but the team's output of 71 points was solid. Defensively, the club held the Hurricanes to 35.7 percent shooting from the floor.