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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 11, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: CFSB Center (8,600) -- Murray, Kentucky. Television: None. Home Record: APSU 6-2, Murray State 7-1. Away Record: APSU 1-5, Murray State 1-6. Neutral Record: APSU 1-1, Murray State 0-0. Conference Record: APSU 2-0, Murray State 3-0. Series Record: Murray State leads, 76-41.
GAME NOTES: One team's three-game winning streak will come to an end at the CFSB Center on Saturday night, as the Murray State Racers play host to the Austin Peay Governors in Ohio Valley Conference action.
APSU's run of late came on the heels of a three-game losing skid in mid- December and has allowed them to climb back to .500 on the season (8-8). The Governors have opened up OVC play with wins over Tennessee-Martin (81-68) and Southeast Missouri State (80-74), but now they head back out on the road where they are just 1-5.
All three of Murray State's wins on its current streak have come in league action, beating SEMO (82-75), UTM (91-77) and most recently Eastern Kentucky on the road on Wednesday night, 77-64. The Racers are 8-7 on the season, with the majority of their success coming at the CFSB Center (7-1).
Murray State holds a comfortable 76-41 advantage over APSU in the all-time series, which includes a season sweep during the 2012-13 campaign.
Although the Governors trailed SEMO early in the second half of their most recent game, they strung together a 24-4 run to pull away for the impressive home victory. They shot a lofty 51.9 percent from the floor on the evening and also helped its cause by outscoring SEMO at the foul line, 21-9. Chris Horton led the charge from the frontcourt, tallying 21 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Travis Betran put up 16 points, Will Triggs scored 14, Zavion Williams netted 12 off the bench and Damarius Smith got the scorers involved with 10 assists.
On the season, APSU has very little issue putting points on the board, shooting 48.3 percent from the field for 76.8 ppg, but its downfall often comes due to its porous defense, which yields 76.7 ppg. Pacing four players in double figures is Horton (14.3 ppg), who shoots a blistering 61.3 percent from the field and is one of the most imposing forwards in the OVC with 10.2 rpg and 3.2 bpg. Betran (13.6 ppg) has made 40-of-114 from 3-point range, while Will Triggs (11.3 ppg), Williams (10.1 ppg) and Smith (8.8 ppg, 6.1 apg) also get involved on a regular basis.
The Racers put together arguably their most impressive all-around performance of the season in their 13-point road victory over EKU earlier in the week, as they shot 51 percent from the floor, held EKU to 42.6 percent shooting and held a 40-26 advantage on the glass. Cameron Payne and Jarvis Williams were the catalysts with 19 points apiece, with Williams doing his damage on a perfect 9-of-9 from the field, while adding 11 rebounds as well. Dexter Fields was impressive in his own right, shooting 3-of-5 from beyond the arc on his way to 15 points.
It's no surprise that Murray State is hovering around .500 this season considering it scores nearly the same amount of points (72.7 ppg) as it allows (72.0). It oftentimes earns an edge in the rebounding battle (+0.8), but its poor turnover margin (-1.4) has all but negated that advantage. Payne shoots just 38.1 percent from the field but generates enough volume to lead the team with 15.0 ppg, and he helps make up for his shooting deficiencies by adding 5.5 apg and 1.5 spg. Williams (14.1 ppg, 10.9 rpg) ranks eighth in the nation in rebounding, while T.J. Sapp (14.8 ppg) and Jeffery Moss (11.3 ppg) round out the balanced attack.
With Sapp's return to the lineup after missing the first nine games of the season, Murray State is back at full strength and it shows, as it has gone 4-2 since his return. Owning the homecourt advantage in this one will give the Racers the necessary boost to take down the surging Governors.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Murray State 81, Austin Peay 74
01/11 12:48:07 ET
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