You could make the argument heading into today’s game that neither team is really at the top of their game. Murray State is running away with the West Division, but they’re coming off one of the ugliest games of the year.
Jacksonville State came in to the conference season with high expectations thanks to a great non-conference record, but they’re struggling to find traction in OVC play.
It means both teams have a lot to prove.
The Racers have looked like a shell of their former selves over the past few weeks, with seemingly the only carry over from last year being that they’re still winning. Lifeless in the first half of almost every conference game this season, the Racers are causing plenty of hair pulling and frustration as Murray State has constantly needed second half runs to pull out victories. With the exception of Eastern Kentucky, they’ve been up to the task.
But there’s a feeling that at some point again this season, they’re going to dig themselves too deep a hole to climb back out of. Tennessee Tech’s complete inability to score made that a complete non-issue on Thursday, but the Racers are seemingly playing with fire.
Jacksonville State has a problem we’re not used to seeing under head coach James Green: They’re not playing very good defense. They’ve made up for it with solid scoring, but they’re not making things easy on themselves giving up 65 points a game in conference play. While they have the ability to hang 80 on a team, (see Austin Peay on Thursday) that’s not what they’re really built for game-in and game out.
The Racers are coming off their worst three-point shooting performance of the year, and their numbers in conference play in general are down from their non-conference slate. There’s no doubt the Racers can be a dangerous three-point shooting team, but they haven’t been able to show it as of late, and they might not want to tonight. Jacksonville State is a much better team at defending the perimeter than the paint, and if Ed Daniel can stay out of foul trouble, the senior forward could be in for a big night.
Turnovers are the biggest key for Jacksonville State. The Racers turned over the ball 23 times in their win over Tennessee Tech, and are in the bottom third of the league in turnovers for the season. If Jacksonville State can force steals and get easy layups at the other end, it could take some much needed pressure off they’re defense.
Injury Notes: JSU G Darion Rackley: Out