Murray State (18-5) at SIU Edwardsville (8-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 14, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Vadalabene Center (5,000) -- Edwardsville, Illinois. Television: Racer TV Network. Home Record: MSU 9-2, SIUE 7-3. Away Record: MSU 7-2, SIUE 1-10. Neutral Record: MSU 2-1, SIUE 0-0. Conference Record: MSU 9-2, SIUE 4-7. Series Record: Murray State leads, 10-1.
GAME NOTES: The Murray State Racers take aim at their fourth consecutive win as they visit the Vadalabene Center for an Ohio Valley Conference tilt against the SIU Edwardsville Cougars.
Murray State has dominated SIUE in the rivalry's history, winning 10 out of the 11 previous encounters. The Racers held off the Cougars for a 70-61 victory in the inaugural bout of the 2012-13 campaign as All-American candidate Isaiah Canaan tallied 20 points, nine assists, and seven steals to spearhead the effort. Mark Yelovich chipped in 18 points off the bench for SIUE in the loss.
Steve Prohm's Racers appeared to be destined for a second place finish in the OVC as the Belmont Bruins seemed unstoppable in their first run through the league. Murray State made a statement with a 79-74 victory over the Bruins at home before completing a 69-48 rout of Tennessee State on Saturday. The trio of victories has lifted MSU to 18-5 overall including its 9-2 mark in the OVC, which gives it sole possession of first place in the West Division. Two more wins will guarantee the Racers a first-place finish in the divisional standings, but they still have one more OVC loss than Belmont.
Although Canaan was held below his OVC leading average of 20.1 ppg by TSU, Murray State coasted to the decision behind Ed Daniel's double-double of 18 points and 10 boards. It was the 13th double-double of the season for the Racers' active forward. The Tigers shot just 28.8 percent from the floor against MSU, which converted 42.9 percent of its field goal tries in addition to its 22-of-29 showing at the free-throw line. The Racers have done plenty to exhibit they are on a different level than the majority of their conference rivals over the past two seasons, but they have not played up to their potential until recently.
SIUE's second season in the OVC is going better than the first, but it is still only 8-13 overall and 4-7 in the league standings. The Cougars dropped their second decision in a row on Saturday when they fell, 77-68, to Tennessee-Martin. Jerome Jones went 7-of-16 from the floor to produce a team- high 18 points and Kris Davis chimed in with 15 points and seven assists, but the Skyhawks drained 57.8 percent of their shots from the field and outscored SIUE, 35-15, in points off the bench.
Jones is pacing SIUE in the scoring column with 16.2 ppg on 45.2 percent shooting from the field while Davis and Yelovich add just under 11 ppg apiece. The strong play of the trio has not been enough, as the Cougars are being outscored by an average of 2.6 ppg in league games despite a +0.2 average rebounding margin in those games.
A win over Murray State would be a leap in the right direction for the steadily growing SIUE program. That is easier said than done though. Canaan may be the best point guard and overall leader in the NCAA. It will be very difficult to slow both him and Daniel down.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Murray State 76, SIU Edwardsville 66
02/14 10:41:08 ET