FACTS & STATS: Site: CFSB Center (8,602) -- Murray, Kentucky. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: SIUE 5-2, Murray St. 5-2. Away Record: SIUE 1-7, Murray St. 6-1. Neutral Record: SIUE 0-0, Murray St. 2-1. Conference Record: SIUE 2-3, Murray St. 4-1. Series Record: Murray State leads, 9-1.
GAME NOTES: Trying to extend their respective winning streaks to three games, the SIU Edwardsville Cougars and the Murray State Racers will meet at the CFSB Center in Ohio Valley Conference action on Saturday night.
After starting its OVC schedule 0-3, SIUE has bounced back of late with a home win over Tennessee Tech on Jan. 12 (58-54) and a 66-53 triumph at Austin Peay on Thursday. The Cougars' season as a whole has still been largely a struggle at 6-9, which includes just a 1-7 mark on the road.
Murray State has dismissed Austin Peay (71-68) and Eastern Illinois (70-49) in its last two contests, and it has won four of five since opening up its league schedule on Jan. 3, which situates it in soul possession of first place in the OVC West. The Racers' recent winning stretch has improved its overall record to a stellar 13-4.
Murray State defeated SIUE on the road last season, 82-65, giving it a 9-1 advantage in the all-time series.
SIUE had a stellar outing in all phases of the game in its latest bout with Austin Peay by shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 92.3 percent from the foul line. It also won the rebounding battle (39-28) and held its opponent below 39 percent shooting. Jerome Jones shined in the triumph, scoring 22 points on 9-of-18 from the field, while Kris Davis and Michael Messer tallied 10 points apiece. Unfortunately for the Cougars, positive performances at the offensive end of the court have been few and far between this season, as it ranks 11th in the OVC in scoring just 62.4 ppg. A large chuck of those points come from Jones (15.6 ppg), the conference's seventh-ranked scorer who has knocked down 35 3-pointers at a 43.2 percent clip. Davis chips in 10.3 ppg, while Messer adds 10.1 ppg thanks in part to the league's second-best free throw percentage (.879).
The Racers too were fantastic on Thursday night, shooting 52.2 percent from the field (including 11-of-25 from 3-point range) while holding EIU to 41.3 percent efficiency on their way to the 21-point victory. Eleven different Murray State players scored in the win, paced by 17 points and six assists by Isaiah Canaan. Dexter Fields netted 12 points on 4-of-9 from 3-point range, while Ed Daniel narrowly miss a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. On the season, Murray State scores the second-most points per game in the OVC (74.1 ppg) by ranking in the upper-half of the conference in its percentages from the field (.465), beyond the arc (.366), and the foul line (.685). Canaan is a consistent scoring threat, as his 21.6 ppg is tops in the league and eighth-most in the nation, and his 57 3-pointers are 12th-most in the country. Daniel has been a double-double machine with 14.8 ppg and 10.7 rpg, while Stacy Wilson chips in 13.3 ppg. Fields (7.6 ppg) and Brandon Garrett (5.8 ppg) round out a group that has started all 17 games together.
SIUE has been playing much better of late, but it will likely be overmatched in this one, going on the road against one of the OVC's best teams.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Murray State 75, SIU Edwardsville 59
01/19 10:35:07 ET
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