Recent losses aside, Racers expect to be tough guest for UTM
Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013 12:00 pm
By KEVIN WEAKS
Not the undefeated, nationally-ranked team that rolled into Martin last season, Murray State is still pretty impressive.
The UT Martin men’s basketball team continues its three-game homestand when it hosts Ohio Valley Conference rival Murray State tonight at the Elam Center. Tip-off time against the Racers is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The last time these two teams met in the Elam Center, the Skyhawks nearly pulled off one of the biggest wins in program history. In front of a standing-room only crowd on Feb. 4, 2012, UT Martin gave the No. 9 ranked Racers all they could handle before Murray State came away with the 65-58 victory.
Fresh off winning an OVC-record 31 games against only two losses last season, Murray State (9-3, 0-0 OVC) is coming off a 66-64 home loss to Valparaiso on Dec. 29.
The loss at home to Valpo marked the first two-game losing streak in head coach Steve Prohm’s 45-game tenure.
Murray State lost 77-68 at Dayton on Dec. 22, ending the Racers’ school-record 16-game road winning streak. Murray State’s first loss of the season was 81-74 to Colorado in the championship game of the Charleston Classic on Nov. 18.
Prohm, an assistant to Billy Kennedy who was named the Racers’ new head coach when Kennedy left for Texas A&M following the 2010-11 season, is 40-5 and guided Murray State to its 23rd OVC regular season championship, 15th OVC Tournament title and 15th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Racers’ 23-0 start to last season earned MSU a top 10 national ranking and rated as the third-best in NCAA Division I history behind Bill Hodge at Indiana State in 1978-79 (33-0) and Norman Shephard at North Carolina in 1923-24 (26-0).
Preseason All-American Isaiah Canaan tossed in a game-high 24 points, while Ed Daniel (14 points) and Dexter Fields (12) also cracked double-figures for the Racers in their loss to Valpo.
The Racers have three players averaging in double figures for the season with Canaan scoring 21.2 points a game while also dishing out four assists per contest. Daniel is averaging a double-double with 16 points and 10.5 rebounds a game, while Stacy Wilson is pitching in 14.1 points and 3.8 assists per game.
Murray State’s three-guard, two-forward starting lineup features four seniors in Canaan (6-1), Wilson (6-3), Daniel (6-7) and forward Brandon Garrett (6-9) along with Fields (6-2), a junior.
Canaan, a likely first-round pick in this year’s NBA Draft, is the leading active scorer in the OVC with 1,628 career points, while Daniel is fifth among active players in rebounding with 448.
Canaan needs just 372 points to become the sixth Racer and 17th OVC player to reach 2,000 for his career.
UT Martin (3-11, 0-2 OVC) is coming off a 64-54 home loss against Jacksonville State on Monday.
Myles Taylor (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Justin Childs (12 points) led the Skyhawks in a game that was knotted at 22-all at the halftime break.
Taylor’s third double-double of the season and seventh of his career closed the 2012 portion of the Skyhawk schedule in style for the 6-7, 250-pound sophomore forward from Little Rock.
Last season’s Freshman of the Year in the OVC, Taylor is averaging 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds a game.
Childs (6-4, 190), a junior guard in the head coach Jason James’ three-guard starting lineup, is the other Skyhawk player in double figures for the season with 10.2 points per game.
Senior forward Jeremy Washington (6-7, 230) is knocking on the door of double figures with nine points per game for the Skyhawks.
The other two starters, both guards, are underclassmen.
Sophomore Khristian Taylor (6-2, 175) avarages 2.3 points, while freshman DeMarc Richardson (6-2, 170) is scoring just over a point a game.
A high-scoring game is expected as the two fullcourt-oriented teams have put up some lofty totals.
UTM is scoring at a 66.9 per-game clip but also giving up 74.5 points per outing. The Racers, meanwhile, score at a league-high 75.5 per-game pace and allow 66 points per contest.
A halftime lead for the host Skyhawks won’t necessarily be a sign of good things to come as Murray State has trailed in three of their four road games this season — Lipscomb, Evansville and Arkansas State — and won all three.
Murray State holds a commanding 40-3 lead in the series, all three UTM wins coming at Martin. Published in The WCP 1.3.13