Southeast Missouri State (8-5) at Murray State (5-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 2, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: CFSB Center (8,600) -- Murray, Kentucky. Television: None. Home Record: SEMO 3-1, Murray State 5-1. Away Record: SEMO 2-4, Murray State 0-6. Neutral Record: SEMO 3-0, Murray State 0-0. Conference Record: SEMO 0-0, Murray State 0-0. Series Record: Murray State leads, 51-18.
GAME NOTES: The Southeast Missouri State Redhawks and the Murray State Racers will tip off Ohio Valley Conference action at the CFSB Center on Thursday night.
SEMO had some moderate success during non-conference play, running out to an 8-5 start to the campaign. The Redhawks have been trending in the wrong direction of late however, dropping three of their last four, including an 81-78 setback at Missouri State. They are now just 2-4 on the road.
Murray State, a 21-10 team a season ago, has disappointed through the first two months of the season by winning just five of its first 12 games. The Racers are fresh off an 0-2 road trip with losses to Western Kentucky (71-64) and Dayton (72-51), but the good news is that they have gone a solid 5-1 at the CFSB Center.
Murray State has a firm handle on the all-time series with SEMO, 51-18, which includes a 24-9 mark at home.
SEMO trailed Missouri State for the majority of its latest contest, including by 20 midway through the second quarter, but just when it seemed down for the count it struck a improbable comeback, which was capped off by a game-tying jumper by Jarekious Bradley with just four seconds remaining. It was all for naught, however, as MSU responded with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to hand SEMO the devastating loss. It shot 42.4 percent from the floor and was especially strong from beyond the arc (10-of-21), with Bradley making four of those long- range buckets on his way to 26 points and 10 rebounds. Tyler Stone also registered an impressive double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds to go along with four blocks, while Antonius Cleveland put up 17 points in the setback.
The Redhawks' offense has been great this season, as they shoot 48 percent from the field and make 8.0 3-pointers per game at a 37 percent clip en route to 83.2 ppg, which is nearly 10 ppg more than they allow on the other end. They also benefit from living in the green both in terms of rebounding (+3.8) and turnovers (+0.8). Bradley is one of the nation's elite scorers, netting 20.5 ppg on 51.1 percent efficiency from the field, while adding 7.9 rpg for good measure. Joining him in the frontcourt is Stone (18.6 ppg, 9.7 rpg), a double-double threat on any give day. Cleveland (10.5 ppg) has made the most of his limited field goal reps (48-of-92, .522).
The Racers were never truly competitive in their most recent bout, as they went into intermission trailing Dayton by eight points and never sniffed the lead in the second half on their way to the 21-point defeat. They failed to impress in any facet of the game, getting outshot from the field, 51.9 percent to 36.5 percent, making just 9-of-14 from the foul line and getting outrebounding by a dominating 44-24 advantage. Cameron Payne (13 points, six assists) and T.J. Sapp (12 points) were the top scorers but were ice-cold from the field, combining to shoot just 7-of-28. Jarvis Williams added 10 points to the losing effort on a much more respectable 5-of-8 shooting.
Although Murray State isn't typically that terrible from the field, its season has been mired in mediocrity for a season, as it shoots 45.1 percent from the field for 70.1 ppg, while allowing 72.0 ppg on 44.9 percent field goal efficiency, and while it makes more than 16 free-throws per game, its percentage from the charity stripe has been awful (.617). Sapp hopes to provide a boost for the squad moving forward, as he's averaging 17.3 ppg is three games after missing the first nine contests. Williams (13.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg) mans the paint, while Payne (13.0 ppg), Jeffery Moss (11.4 ppg) and Dexter Fields (9.8 ppg) are all mainstays in the starting lineup as well.
SEMO has been the more impressive team this season by a fairly wide margin, but the playing field will be leveled significantly in an OVC matchup on Murray State's home floor. It should be a close one wire-to-wire, but figure for the Racers to get off to a 1-0 start in the league.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Murray State 76, Southeast Missouri State 72
01/02 10:34:23 ET