The 10th-ranked Murray State Racers put their flawless record on the line this evening, when the team takes on the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks in a key Ohio Valley Conference matchup at the CFSB Center.
Steve Prohm's debut season with the Racers has been picture of perfection thus far, as Murray State is the only unbeaten left in the Division I ranks. The Racers moved to 21-0 and 9-0 in OVC play with last weekend's 73-58 win over Eastern Illinois. With a win this evening, MSU will set the OVC record for the best start to a season.
Dickey Nutt's Redhawks may have something to say about that. The team is a modest 12-9 on the season, but is the only team in the conference currently within striking distance of the Racers at 7-2 in league play. SEMO has won two straight and four of its last five games, including a 74-53 blasting of Eastern Illinois on Monday.
Murray State holds a sizable lead in the all-time series with SEMO and has won four straight games at home against the Redhawks.
SEMO was able to close to Murray State in the standings thanks to Monday's lopsided win over the Panthers. The Redhawks trailed by five points at the half, but got hot after the break, outscoring Eastern Illinois 43-17 over the final 20 minutes to earn the win. SEMO shot a sizzling 51.9 percent from the floor in the game, as four Redhawks finished in double figures. Marland Smith hit five three-pointers and led all scorers with 19 points. Tyler Stone dominated down low with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Leon Powell and Michael Porter chimed in with 12 and 10 points, respectively. It has been efficiency at the offensive end that has fueled SEMO's success thus far. The Redhawks are shooting .494 from the field overall, leading to 70.6 ppg. Stone headlines the group in the frontcourt, converting 54 percent of the time, en route to a team-high 15.0 ppg. Smith is the resident sniper, averaging 12.4 ppg and shooting .419 from behind the arc (49-of-117). Powell rounds out the top scoring threats (11.6 ppg) and is tied with Stone for the team-lead in rebounding (7.3 rpg).
The Racers are getting it done in just about every facet of the game. Murray State comes into this contest with a +14.5 scoring margin, netting 75.4 ppg, while allowing just 60.9. In addition, the Racers are knocking down a healthy 47.7 percent of their shots. The team has also been productive at the defensive end, averaging nine steals per game, while forcing opponents into a hefty 17.1 turnovers per outing. The team relies primarily on the scoring output of Isaiah Canaan, Donte Poole and Ivan Aska. Canaan ranks second in the OVC in scoring this year at 18.7 ppg. He is shooting .478 from the floor overall, injcluding a sizzling .470 from three-point range (62-of-132). Poole pours in 14.7 ppg and is also lethal from long range, knocking down 41.3 percent from deep (45-of-109). The 6-7 Aska does much of his work inside the perimeter, converting 50.3 percent of the time, while averaging 12.3 ppg. MSU outrebounded Eastern Illinois 40-24 and went on the 17-4 run to begin the second half to put the game out of reach. Canaan and Poole led the way with 18 points apiece. Ed Daniel netted just five points, but was instrumental on the glass, with a game-high 12 rebounds.