GAME NOTES: The Murray State Racers will meet a familiar foe on Thursday when they square off with the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles in an Ohio Valley Conference tilt at the Eblen Center.
Murray State owns a commanding 122-47 lead over TTU. Despite the advantage owned by Murray State, this series has seen primarily close contests, one of which includes last season's matchup in Cookeville that saw the Golden Eagles nearly take down the then No. 12 ranked Racers.
Steve Prohm's Racers notched their third consecutive victory on Saturday with a 70-61 decision over SIU Edwardsville that rose them to a 14-4 overall record including their 5-1 OVC standing which puts them in sole possession of first place in the West Division. Murray State ranks second in the league in scoring margin (+8.6) thanks to its dynamic inside-outside combo. The Racers are the only team in the nation that had a top-10 scorer and rebounder. All-American point guard Isaiah Canaan is scoring 21.5 points per game on the season to place eighth in the nation and first in the OVC. Ed Daniel, an All-OVC preseason pick, is pulling down 10.7 rebounds per game (also tops in the OVC) to rank ninth in the nation on the glass.
Canaan carried the Racers past SIUE by posting 20 points, nine assists, and seven steals in the nine-point win. Daniel managed a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists. Stacy Wilson added 13 points and five rebounds and Brandon Garrett tallied 11 points and seven rebounds in the win. Murray State actually trailed by 11 points at halftime after a dismal 26.7 percent shooting performance from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, but bounced back after the break to connect on 68 percent of its field goal attempts and added 9- of-14 at the charity stripe to overcome the first-half deficit.
MSU will try to carry that momentum into its bout with the Golden Eagles, who are just eighth in the OVC in scoring defense (67.8) and one spot worse in scoring offense (64.7). Coach Steve Payne's squad lost its second in a row and for the seventh time in its past eight outings on Saturday as it dropped a 74-62 decision at SE Missouri State.
Leading TTU into this one will be Jud Dillard, who on top of averaging 19.6 points per game, including over 20 per contest in league action, has grabbed 7.7 rebounds this season to lead the Golden Eagles. He ranks fifth in the conference in the category and raises that number to 8.3 in OVC games. SMU transfer Jeremiah Samarrippas is chiming in with 10.0 points and 4.3 assists per conference game. In their setback to the Redhawks, Dillard paced the team in scoring with 16 points to go along with seven rebounds. Dennis Ogbe (13 points, seven rebounds), Samarrippas (10 points, six assists, three steals), and Lanerryl Johnson (10 points) all played well in a losing effort.
The Golden Eagles will really challenge the Racers, who seem to be susceptible to upsets, although they somehow keep avoiding them behind Canaan's strong play. Dillard should be able to offset much of what MSU's star point guard produces, but Daniel's presence should push the Racers to the winner's circle.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Murray State 75, Tennessee Tech 71
01/24 10:32:51 ET
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