Eastern Kentucky (22-9) vs. Murray State (18-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 7, 10 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Municipal Auditorium (8,000) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Eastern Kentucky 12-2, Murray State 13-1. Away Record: Eastern Kentucky 8-6, Murray State 5-9. Neutral Record: Eastern Kentucky 2-1, Murray State 0-0. Conference Record: Eastern Kentucky 11-5, Murray State 13-3. Series Record: Murray State leads, 100-61.
GAME NOTES: The second of two Ohio Valley Conference Tournament finalists will be decided with the winner of the third-seeded Eastern Kentucky Colonels taking on the second-seeded Murray State Racers at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville.
Eastern Kentucky took down an offensive-minded OVC power in Southeast Missouri State Thursday night in quarterfinal round action, 84-76, to advance to the semifinals. The Colonels have now won five games in a row dating back to the regular season.
Murray State, having won five of its last six games of the season entering the tournament, is actually coming into postseason play on a bit of a down note. The Racers were defeated in double-overtime by Southeast Missouri State, 118-115, in the season finale Saturday. Despite the loss, the Racers were awarded the second seed after going 13-3 in conference play, which gave them the automatic double-bye into the semifinal round.
Murray State holds a very convincing all-time lead over Eastern Kentucky in the all-time series between the two sides, 100-61. The Racers were victorious in the only meeting between EKU and Murray State during the regular season, 77-64.
Going up against a hot Southeast Missouri State team that easily defeated Eastern Kentucky in the OVC first round didn't present the easiest of challenges for Eastern Kentucky, but the Colonels sure made it look simple on Thursday night in Nashville. EKU led from the first basket to the final buzzer against SEMO, and will advance to face Murray State. Corey Walden netted 17 points to pace Eastern Kentucky in the contest, while Glenn Cosey chipped in 15 points and Orlando Williams added 14 off the bench. Tarius Johnson rounded out the double-digit scorers with 12 points, adding seven rebounds to his stat line.
Cosey still holds a very comfortable lead on the team in scoring average, netting 18.7 ppg on 42.3 percent shooting from the floor. Cosey's 130 assists is by far a team high, and his 38 steals is third on the team. Walden checks in with a 13.3 ppg average, adding a team-best 65 steals to his season resume. Marcus Lewis rounds out the EKU double-digit scorers this season with 10.1 ppg. Eric Stutz leads the Colonels with a 4.7 rpg mark.
Southeast Missouri State owned a 52-46 lead over Murray State at the half of the Racers' last contest on Saturday. But the second-seeded team in the Ohio Valley Conference managed to shave all six first-half points off the Redhawks' lead to send the game to overtime. After each team netted 13 points in the first extra session, the OVC duel went into a second overtime period. There, the Redhawks jumped ahead by four points, 118-113, with a second left to play. Murray State went to the free-throw line after a Nino Johnson technical foul to cut the lead to three, but the game was over at that point. Jarvis Williams notched a double-double with 25 points and 15 rebounds, while Cameron Payne tallied 25 points of his own. T.J. Sapp contributed 24 points, Jeffery Moss added 22, and Dexter Fields scored 15 to round out the double-digit Murray State scorers.
Payne played well beyond his freshman status this season, leading the team with a 15.9 ppg average and racking up 156 total assists (5.6 apg), which was good for second in the OVC. Williams was a monster under the basket, averaging 14.5 ppg with a 10.4 rpg mark (second in OVC) with 41 blocked shots. Sapp (14.2 ppg) and Moss (13.3 ppg) rounded out the Murray State double-digit scorers. The Racers averaged 77.3 ppg in 28 games played this season, including an 82.7 ppg mark in 16 conference games.
Murray State sports one of the more dominant starting lineups in the OVC, and has an extremely powerful offensive unit with well-rounded production by position. Eastern Kentucky will certainly give the Racers a challenge for that spot in the finals, but it's Murray State's game to lose.
Sports network Predicted Outcome: Murray State 80, Eastern Kentucky 71
03/07 10:30:31 ET