Murray State (18-9) at Southeast Missouri State (16-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 1, 6:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Show Me Center (7,000) -- Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: MSU 13-1, SEMO 8-4. Away Record: MSU 5-8, SEMO 5-9. Neutral Record: MSU 0-0, SEMO 3-0. Conference Record: MSU 13-2, SEMO 7-8. Series Record: Murray State leads, 52-18.
GAME NOTES: With a league title still within reach, the Murray State Racers travel to the Show Me State to take on the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks in an Ohio Valley Conference matchup on Saturday evening.
Winners of their last five games, the Racers kept their OVC title hopes alive with an 86-72 win over Tennessee-Martin on Thursday night. They have clinched the West Division title and are tied with East champion Belmont for the best record in the league.
SEMO punched its ticket to the OVC tourney with an 83-80 win over Austin Peay Thursday night. The Redhawks have won three straight and four of their last five. and they are tied for second place in the West with SIU Edwardsville.
Murray State has won 11 of last 13 meetings between these two teams, including the conference opener this season in an 82-75 decision in Murray.
T.J. Sapp came off the bench to pour in 20 points as the Racers coasted to an easy win over UT-Martin. Cameron Payne tallied 17 points and eight assists for the Racers, who also received 14 points and nine boards courtesy of Jarvis Williams. Dexter Fields and Jeffery Moss scored 12 points apiece in the win. Murray State took a 42-41 lead into the break despite knocking down 54.8 percent of its field goal tries in the opening 20 minutes. The Racers continued to operate efficiently after intermission, as they sank 55.6 percent of their attempts, as they pulled away for the victory.
Payne may be the leading scorer for the Racers with his 15.6 ppg, adding a team-high 150 assists, but he is shooting only 39.5 percent from the floor at the moment. Williams is much more accurate from the field at 63.1 percent, much of that having to do with the fact that he is always close to the rim and has 96 offensive rebounds himself. Williams is averaging 14.1 ppg and 10.3 rpg, one of only a handful of players in the nation averaging a double-double. Sapp (13.6 ppg) and Moss (13.0 ppg) round out the potent scoring attack for the Racers. As a unit, Murray State is netting 75.9 ppg while permitting 70.8 ppg.
Tyler Stone logged 20 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, as the Redhawks held off Austin Peay the last time out. Jarekious Bradley tallied 16 points off the bench for SEMO, which also had Nino Johnson (14), Antonius Cleveland (12) and Josh Langford (11) scoring in double figures, while Lucas Nutt handed out six assists. SEMO shot a lofty 61.5 percent from the field in the first half and carried a 40-34 lead into intermission. APSU came back to tie the game at 59-59 with 9:57 to play, but the Redhawks separated themselves with an 18-7 run over the next seven minutes and held on down the stretch for the victory.
A pair of the league's top scorers, Bradley and Stone lead the Redhawks. Bradley averages 19.2 ppg, which is the second-best figure in the OVC, while Stone is right behind in third place with 19.1 ppg. Nutt is dishing out an OVC-best 5.9 apg. For the season, SEMO puts up conference-best 82.1 ppg on 49.4 percent field goal efficiency, second in the OVC, although it is allowing opponents to score 77.1 ppg, which has it 10th in the OVC.
Despite being the top scoring unit in the OVC, the Redhawks are a woeful defensive squad. The Racers are strong at both ends of the court and have the added incentive of a conference title, so expect the visitors to pull out the win in a high-scoring contest.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Murray State 81, Southeast Missouri State 73
03/01 11:35:00 ET