Murray State (10-7) at SIU Edwardsville (5-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 18, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Vadalabene Center (4,000) -- Edwardsville, Illinois. Television: FSN-MW. Home Record: MSU 8-1, SIUE 5-3. Away Record: MSU 2-6, SIUE 0-8. Neutral Record: MSU 0-0, SIUE 0-2. Conference Record: MSU 5-0, SIUE 2-3. Series Record: Murray State leads, 10-2.
GAME NOTES: The Murray State Racers will put their unblemished Ohio Valley Conference record on the line when they pay a visit to the Vadalabene Center to take on the SIU Edwardsville Cougars.
Murray State is off to a perfect 5-0 start in conference play. Most recently, the Racers knocked off Eastern Illinois on Thursday in Charleston, 70-66. However, that marked only their second road win in eight tries this season.
SIUE was also in action Thursday night as it used a late run to claim a 71-67 victory over Austin Peay. The Cougars struggled throughout their early-season non-conference schedule, but they are 2-3 in league play and all five of their wins this season have come at home.
Murray State leads the all-time series with SIUE, 10-2.
The Racers trailed Eastern Illinois from the opening tip until just past the midway point of the second half, but they never lost their focus as they were able to erase an eight-point halftime deficit. A 16-7 second-half run swung the momentum, and Cameron Payne eventually sealed the outcome with a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left to put Murray State on top, 66-62. It was the third trey of the game for Payne, who finished with a team-high 21 points. T.J. Sapp was right on his heels with 20 points, while Jonathan Fairell grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds to go along with his eight points. The Racers blocked a season- best nine shots and held EIU to 25-percent shooting over the final 20 minutes. On the season, Payne leads the team with 15.4 ppg. Sapp is next in line with 15.0 ppg, while Jarvis Williams averages a double-double with 13.2 ppg and 10.1 rpg.
SIUE likes to spread the ball on offense, as nine different players are averaging at least 5.6 ppg. However, the Cougars lack a true go-to scorer, and that has plagued them throughout the season, particularly late in tight games. Donivine Stewart has started all 18 games and leads the team with 11.4 ppg, although he is also the only double-digit scorer. The Cougars battled hard against Austin Peay two nights ago and closed the game on a 13-1 run to win by four. They allowed the Governors to shoot 52.1 percent from the field but made up for it by forcing 22 turnovers. Rozell Nunn paced the squad with 15 points in the victory, while Stewart and Kris Davis each scored 10.
Both of these teams finished strong to each win their last outing. The Racers have the edge on paper, but they have certainly had their struggles on the road this season and will go up against a Cougars squad that has picked up its play of late.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SIU Edwardsville 69, Murray State 67
01/18 10:25:46 ET