GAME NOTES: Two former Ohio Valley Conference foes will square off at the CFSB Center on Tuesday night, as the Murray State Racers play host to the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.
Kermit Davis' Blue Raiders are 4-1 on the season. Middle Tennessee opened the year with four straight wins at home, but suffered their first loss of the campaign last time out, falling at nationally-ranked Florida last week, 79-59.
Steve Prohm's Racers have struggled in the early stages, with losses in three of their five games. Murray State has won both its home games, but has dropped all three road tilts, including Saturday's 75-67 decision at Auburn.
These two teams competed in the OVC from 1952-2000. This marks the 136th all- time matchup. The Racers have dominated the series with 102 victories against 33 losses. Murray State leads 53-11 in games played at home in the series.
After a strong start to the season, the Blue Raiders had no answers in Gainesville against the explosive Gators. MT shot a modest .426 from the floor in the game and committed 16 turnovers, while suffering a 34-20 deficit in points in the paint. Neiko Hunter led the way for the Blue Raiders in the loss with 14 points. Jaqawn Raymond and Eric Wortham pitched in with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
The 59 points were the lowest output of the season for MT, which comes into this contest averaging 74.0 ppg on a steady .472 shooting. Shawn Jones leads the way in the scoring column at 14.2 ppg and is the team's top rebounder as well (7.8 rpg). Kerry Hammonds follows closely with 14.0 ppg, while Raymond adds 10.2 ppg as the third player in double digits.
The Racers pulled within two points of Auburn with just over nine minutes to play, but the Tigers went on a 14-4 run to distance themselves from Murray State down the stretch. Murray State suffered a 41-31 deficit in rebounding and did itself no favors by going a mere 10-of-21 from the free-throw line. Cameron Payne and Jeffery Moss led the team with 16 points apiece. Jarvis Williams finished with 13, just missing a double-double with nine rebounds.
Murray State is under .500 on the year, but it isn't because of a lack of offense. The team is netting a hefty 77.8 ppg on a healthy .472 shooting, with four of the five starters averaging double figures. Williams has been a force for MSU, leading the way in scoring (14.6 ppg) and rebounding (11.0 rpg). Dexter Fields and Payne follow close behind (14.0 ppg each). Moss (13.0 ppg) rounds out the top threats.
Middle Tennessee enjoyed an extended homestand to start the year, but failed miserably in its first road trip, albeit against much superior competition. Still, Murray State seems to always play well on its floor and should be able to continue to do so against the Blue Raiders.
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