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“That was a fun game to watch, if you like offense.”

Murray State head coach Steve Prohm was happy following his team’s 96-88 win over Austin Peay. The third year coach wasn’t despondent about how his team gave up a 17-point first half lead, or allowed Austin Peay 51 second half points.

He was clearly much more pleased with how the game ended.

“Did you have fun?” a reporter immediately asked.

“No, because our defense wasn’t that good,” Prohm said with a smile.

“It was a fun game, I’m sure,” Prohm said. “It’s fun to come down here and play. The atmosphere is always great. I’ve come down here eight times and it’s always been very, very close.”

Jeffrey Moss hits a late floater to help seal a 96-88 win over Austin Peay

Jeffrey Moss hits a late floater to help seal a 96-88 win over Austin Peay

Even the losing coach was positive.

“It was a really good effort,” Austin Peay head coach Dave Loss said. “They put a lot of effort into it. Great effort. There was certainly some errors, but all I said to them tonight was it was a teriffic effort.”

Rivalry has a different feel depending on where you sit. For the fans, it’s the hatred between the fan bases. The yelling, the screaming; the highest of highs, only to be followed by the lowest of lows.

“That was a fun game to watch, if you like offense.”

For the players, it’s fuel, motivation to play their best. For coaches, it’s their chance to see what their players are really made of.

Many times this year, it’s been easy to forget that Murray State guard Cameron Payne is just a freshman.

Tonight, in the second half against Austin Peay we were reminded of his youth. Four fouls within minutes of one another, and a traveling violation in backcourt, as he was indecisive whether to bring the ball up or pass it to a teammate. His seven turnovers equaled the entire Austin Peay team.

Midway through the second, with the Racers 17-point first half advantage completely evaporated, Payne looked the part of a young man playing in the toughest atmosphere we’d seen all season.

And yet, before the half was even over, we had forgotten all over again.

The freshman phenom’s twelve points was just fifth most on a night the Racers nearly hit 100.

His twelve assists were a career high.

“I think he was a little frustrated about the fouls,” Prohm said of his freshman. “But 12 assists. That’s phenomoninal.”

Payne was just one of two Racers to notch a double-double on the night. Jarvis Williams scored a game high 28 points, and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds in the 96-88 win.

Murray State's Jarvis Williams gives Austin Peay fans a wink after a 96-88 victory

Murray State’s Jarvis Williams gives Austin Peay fans a wink after a 96-88 victory

“The gameplan was to go inside out, to be able to free up the guards,” Williams said after the game. “They didn’t really double-team as much as we thought that they would.

It was the same on the other bench. Austin Peay’s Ed Dyson and Chris Horton combined for 38 points, two of four Governors in double figures. Austin Peay, known for their problems turning over the ball, committ just seven turnovers, and the second worst free-throw shooting team in the league hit 21-31 from the line.

But one area they couldn’t match the Racers: behind the arc. Dexter Fields was hot again tonight, hitting 5-7 from deep. Austin Peay could only hit three as a team.

“They was hot,” Horton said after the game. “That’s 30-9. You cut that in half, and that’s 15 points. We lost by eight, we would have won by seven.” He didn’t miss a beat with the math.

For the rivarly itself, it’s become one sided as of late. Austin Peay has now lost seven straight to the Racers, a statistic that would lead some rivals to wonder if the rivalry still existed.

Just ask an Austin Peay fan, yelling that Payne was about to be “violated.” Or the students who chanted, “Go to hell, Murray” before the game even tipped off.

Or the Murray fans, who gave their team a standing ovation as they walked off the court. The rivalry is alive and well. And as it always does, it brought out the best of both teams.

It was just that, tonight, Murray’s best was better than Austin Peay’s best.

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OVC Ball
Final Word (11/13): Jacksonville State stands alone…in basketball too.

2017-18 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 0-0 2-0
Tennessee Tech 0-0 1-1
Murray State 0-0 1-1
Southeast Missouri* 0-0 1-1
Belmont 0-0 1-1
Eastern Kentucky 0-0 1-1
Tennessee State 0-0 1-1
Eastern Illinois 0-0 0-1
SIUE 0-0 0-1
Austin Peay 0-0 0-2
Morehead State 0-0 0-2
UT Martin 0-0 0-2

*Ineligible for postseason (APR)