Tennessee-Martin (8-19) at Murray State (20-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 28, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: CFSB Center (8,600) -- Murray, Kentucky. Television: None. Home Record: UTM 7-7, Murray State 10-2. Away Record: UTM 1-12, Murray State 8-4. Neutral Record: UTM 0-0, Murray State 2-1. Conference Record: UTM 4-10, Murray State 10-4. Series Record: Murray State leads, 41-3.
GAMES NOTES: The Murray State Racers will play host to the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks at CFSB Center in an Ohio Valley Conference duel on Thursday night.
With just two games to play, Tennessee-Martin doesn't have much time if it wants to secure a spot in the eight-team OVC Tournament. The Skyhawks are just 4-10 in league play which has them a half game back of Eastern Illinois for the eighth and final spot. The Skyhawks haven't made it easy on themselves down the stretch with losses in three of their last four league games. Tennessee-Martin will finish the season against last-place Austin Peay on Saturday.
For the Racers their spot is already secured for the postseason. The Racers have already captured the OVC West Division with a record of 10-4, which will have them as the No. 2 seed. The Racers have earned wins in back-to-back games entering this contest after a two-game slide earlier in the month. Murray State finishes up the regular season on Saturday as well, against Southeast Missouri State.
In the first meeting this season Murray State earned a 73-62 victory over the Skyhawks. The Racers have now won eight straight contests including season sweeps in each of the last three seasons. That goes with the trend of the all- time series which Murray State has absolutely dominated, 41-3, including a perfect 22-0 in games played in Murray.
Tennessee-Martin got to the free-throw line all game against Longwood in BracketBusters action. The Skyhawks outscored the Lancers, 27-11 from the charity stripe en route to an 89-79 victory. Terence Smith led the way with 21 points, while Mike Liabo nearly had a triple-double with 15 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
For the Skyhawks, the big weakness is defense. They are allowing teams to score 76.4 points per game on 46.1 percent shooting. The Skyhawks have struggled to put pressure on opposing teams as they rank in the bottom 10 teams in the country in assists allowed (16 apg). On offense the Skyhawks shoot the worst percentage from the field (.397) among OVC teams, while scoring just 67.2 points per game. Myles Taylor (16.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg) has been a lone bright spot for Tennessee-Martin. The 6-foot-7 forward has scored in double figures in all but one game this season, ranking among the top 10 in points and rebounds in the OVC. Liabo (12.9 ppg) is the only other double- figure scorer.
In a BracketBusters showdown that featured a pair of the best scorers in the country, Isaiah Canaan lifted Murray State to a 73-62 victory over Nate Wolters and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Canaan poured in 22 points in the contest, as the Racers shot 49.2 percent from the floor, knocking down 11 3-pointers.
Canaan (21.2 ppg, 4.2 apg) not only leads the OVC in scoring but ranks among the top 10 scorers in the country as well. Canaan isn't just a scorer though as he makes tons of play as the team's leader in assists. Stacy Wilson (13.6 ppg) runs with Canaan in the backcourt as part of the guard heavy rotation for the Racers. There is talent in the frontcourt as well, especially double- double machine Ed Daniel (13.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg). The Racers are the third-best scoring team in the OVC (73 ppg), while shooting an efficient 45.2 percent rate from the field.
The Racers didn't have any problem dealing with Tennessee-Martin in Martin. With Murray State now hosting, Canaan and company should cruise to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Murray State 77, Tennessee-Martin 66
02/28 10:37:56 ET