(14) Murray State (27-1) at Tennessee Tech (18-11)
Saturday February 25th, 8:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Eblen Center (9,280) -- Cookeville, Tennessee Television: Racer TV Network. Home Record: MSU 13-1, TTU 9-4. Away Record: MSU 12-0, TTU 7-7. Neutral Record: MSU 2-0, TTU 2-0. Conference Record: MSU 14-1, TTU 9-6. Series Record: Murray State leads, 120-47.
GAME NOTES: The 14th-ranked Murray State Racers try to become the first team in the programs's 87-year history to go undefeated on the road as they head to the Eblen Center for an Ohio Valley Conference bout with the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles.
This will be the 168th meeting in the all-time series between the Golden Eagles and the Racers. Murray State owns a 120-47 edge in the series after its 82-74 victory over TTU at home on Jan. 14th last month. Tennessee Tech was the second to last OVC team to defeat the Racers, as it knocked them out of the OVC Conference Tournament in the semifinal round last season.
Head coach Steve Prohm saw his Racers get back at the only team to beat them this season, as they conquered the Tennessee State Tigers, 80-62, to pick up their fourth straight win. Murray State has now defeated every opponent it has faced this season and owns a 27-1 overall record. The Racers have already clinched the OVC Title for the third straight year. Murray State's incredible 23-0 start made it the last undefeated team in the NCAA's Division I. Prohm can still be the first coach in MSU's 87-year history to lead his team to a perfect road record.
Isaiah Canaan has had a remarkable year leading Murray State. Canaan is second in the OVC in scoring with an average of 19.5 ppg and has been named one of 11 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, which goes to the nation's top point guard. Donte Poole and Ivan Aska have been vital members of the supporting cast for Canaan along the way. Poole is second on the squad with 14.1 ppg, while Aska is averaging 11.4 points and a team-high 5.8 boards per contest.
This might be the most anticipated senior day in TTU's history, as Murray State is the highest ranked opponent to ever visit the Eblen Center. The Golden Eagles are currently in a three-way tie for third place in the OVC with a 9-6 league record. If TTU fails to win tonight, it could fall to fifth place in the standings, which is crucial as the top four teams receive a first round bye. Head coach Steve Payne has an uptempo coaching style, which has TTU second in the OVC in scoring offense with an average of 73.2 ppg.
The Golden Eagles' offensive attack revolves around its star shooting guard Kevin Murphy. The 6-6 senior is leading the OVC in scoring with 20.4 ppg and recently snapped out of a slump as he netted 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds in TTU's BracketBusters win over Coastal Carolina. Defenses have not been able to key on Murphy, as Jud Dillard is garnering the opposition's attention as well. Dillard is third in the conference in scoring with 18.2 ppg while leading the OVC in rebounding with 8,7 rpg. There is a big drop off for TTU after its dynamic duo. Zac Swansey is a decent point guard with an average of 5.9 apg.
To upset the Racers, the Golden Eagles will need role players to really compete and take pressure off of Murphy and Dillard. If TTU can limit its turnovers, it can keep it a close game. However, Murray State has been playing with a chip on its shoulder since its loss to Tennessee State. The Racers have been on a mission to prove the national attention was well-deserved. Prohm is very aware how detrimental a loss would be to Murray State's seeding in the NCAA Tournament, so it is unlikely he takes his foot off of the peddle.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Murray State 84, Tennessee Tech 78
02/25 10:35:28 ET