Murray State routs Tennessee Tech in OVC semifinals
Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - Donte Poole had 25 points and seven rebounds, leading 12th-ranked Murray State to a 78-58 win over Tennessee Tech in the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
Conference Player of the Year Isaiah Canaan scored 18 points and Ed Daniel provided 11 for the top-seeded Racers (29-1), who exacted revenge against the team that knocked them out of this event a year ago.
In 2011, Murray State earned the double-bye into the semifinals, where the Golden Eagles authored the upset.
The Racers will vie for their league-high 15th tournament title Saturday against Tennessee State, the lone team to have beaten them this season.
"I was very proud of our guys' focus and effort, especially on the defensive end of the floor," said Murray State head coach Steve Prohm. "To hold a team that averages almost 75 points per game to 58 points, I thought that was the difference in the game."
Kevin Murphy posted a game-high 31 points, the only Tennessee Tech (19-13) player to score more than eight. Murphy (2,012) became the 16th player in OVC history and second in school history to surpass 2,000 points for his career.
The Golden Eagles got off to a slow start from which they never recovered. Tennessee Tech made just one of its first nine shots from the floor, and Murray State jumped out to an 18-4 lead on a Stacy Wilson three-pointer just past the nine-minute mark.
Two Zach Bailey free throws had the Golden Eagles within five, but Canaan hit a floater in the lane to put the Racers up 37-30 at halftime.
Murray State pulled away in the second half by shooting a sizzling 60.9 percent.
The lead reached 19 at 62-43 on a Poole layup midway through the frame, and a dunk by Poole after Canaan steal pushed the margin to 72-51 with three-plus minutes remaining.
"We knew that we would have to play well to have a chance to win the game," said Tennessee Tech head coach Steve Payne. "We thought we could win the game. (I) didn't feel like we played real well. But, they had a lot to do with that."
The Racers have won six straight since losing to Tennessee State on February 9...Tennessee Tech was limited to 39.3 percent shooting...Jud Dillard had eight points and seven rebounds for the Golden Eagles.
03/02 23:52:22 ET