For eight minutes, it was the Ned Cox show in Evansville. The senior guard scored had scored 16 points, the Purple Aces were up 15 points, and it appeared, for the moment, that Evansville was going to run away from the Racers in front of a rowdy 6,300 fans inside the Ford Center.
But almost as quickly as the Ned Cox show had started, it ended. And the unlikeliest of players was about to have a career game.
Brandon Garrett scored a career high 16 points on 8-12 shooting, and pulled down a career high eight rebounds, as the Racers rallied to an 82-70 win on the road.
“I thought [Brandon] was terrific,” Racers head coach Steve Prohm said after the win.
“Brandon’s been practing good for the past two weeks,” senior Ed Daniel said. “We knew he was going to step up, and that’s what he did.”
Garrett’s 16 points weren’t a team high. In fact, it put the 6’9″ senior fourth in scoring on the night for the Racers. Stacy Wilson scored 18 points on 8-13 shooting, and Daniel and Isaiah Canaaneach added a game-high 21 points. Daniel pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds as well, his sixth straight double-double.
Canaan had a scary moment in the second half for Racers fans, going down midway through the half, and remaining on the floor for over a minute before leaving the court entirely. He would return a few minutes later, and returned to the game.
“I don’t know what happened on the play,” Prohm said. “The thing about Isaiah is he gets bumped some, it’s an aggressive game and sometimes they’re not going to call it. He just hit his head, that’s what I was told. No concussion symptoms or anything like that, he’s beat up, he’s playing a lot of minutes, but he’s a warrior.”
Evansville opened the game on a 15-2 run over the first five minutes, and would extend their lead to 15 with 12:11 left in the first half. Evansville hit 10 their first fifteen shots from the floor, with Cox starting off 7-7 shooting.
“We only played defense for ten minutes in the first half,” Prohm said. “We weren’t locked in in transition…we weren’t checking curls, we finally got more physical.”
Prohm has a slightly different message to his team. “He told us we was good, just keep playing,” Daniel said after.
During the Racers early struggles, Prohm became visibly upset with the officiating, yelling loudly at one referee after a flagrant foul was called on Stacy Wilson during an Evansville fast break.
But Evansville went cold from there, as the Racers defense locked down on Cox and the rest of the Purple Aces. Cox didn’t score the rest of the game, and the Aces would only hit 4 of their next 16 shots from the floor.
Murray State whittled down the lead throughout the rest of the first half, and a Canaan putback on his own missed shot brought the Racers within three at the half.
It didn’t take long for the Racers to take control in the second half. With 18:02 to play, Cannan dribbled the ball upcourt, and in what’s become an iconic play for the All-American pulled up for three, giving the Racers their first lead of the game at 41-40. The Racers never gave up the lead again, quickly extending it to 12 with 12 minutes to play.
Evansville never really threatened the rest of the game.
The Racers improve to 7-1 on the year. Evansville falls to 5-4.
Murray State has the week off for finals, before hosting Western Kentucky next Saturday.