It felt like a conference tournament game with two teams who very well could meet in Nashville. The two top schools in the West Division of the OVC played in a thriller last night at the CFSB Center.
The Racers jumped out to a 14-2 but led by just 4 at the break. Murray State got the lead back up to 10 in the second half but a run by SEMO had the Redhawks ahead at 60-59. A huge three by Cameron Payne gave the Racers back the lead for good putting them atop the West for now.
Murray State played one of their best games of the season even with a poor shooting night from behind the three point line. In contrast to Sunday’s game, the Racers played with heart and aggression. I doubt anybody thought they could out-rebound a Redhawk team with the strongest front court in the league. But that’s just what they did.
(Tom covered SEMO last night while I covered Murray State so below is my individual player analysis of just Murray State players.)
Cameron Payne had 16 points in the first half and connected on his first three. 3-point shots. What really impressed me about Cam was his hustle. He dived into the press table to save the ball in, tapped the ball to Fairell to get the rebound on a ball he had no business getting to and played like a veteran throughout the game. He finished with 23 points and 5 assists. He still made some freshman mistakes. Getting stripped by Nutt, throwing the ball away late when the Racers had a 6 point lead and the ball. However, we are witnessing the improvement of what will be one of the best players to suit up for Murray State.
Jarvis Williams played his best game of the season. His task was to keep the SEMO big men in check. They got their points but so did Jarvis. He finished with 16 points and 18 rebounds (tied James Singleton’s CFSB Center record), 9 of which came from the offensive end. Best stat you take from this game if you’re a Racer fan. Williams 9 offensive rebounds, SEMO 9 offensive rebounds.
Jeffery Moss has been quiet as of late and last night was no different He played 38 minutes scoring nine points and shooting 0 for 6 from deep. If Murray State is going to come out of Municipal without a loss they’ll need their left handed shooting forward to play better than he has been.
TJ Sapp ended up having another good game off the bench. After a slower start than we are used to seeing out of TJ, he put together a solid second half. Sapp had arguably the two biggest plays of the night. With Murray State down by one, TJ drove to the basket, finished and drew the foul. But the biggest play, which you can see below, came with Murray State up three. Jarvis Williams missed a free throw, got his rebound and the Racers reset. Sapp, then threw up and off balance three from the top of the key.
Jonathan Fairell finished with 7 points that seemed to all come in one stretch. A couple of his lay ups allowed Murray State to retake the lead but his most impressive play had Murray State color commentator, Paul Bubb wondering how did he do that?
The foul trouble and 14-2 run to start the game won’t be repeated at SEMO but the Racers didn’t play perfect and they may be better by the time these two teams meet again. In the end I don’t expect a similar outcome when these two teams meet again in Cape. Which is why that win last night was so big for the Racers. There are too many games left but starting off 1-0 in the OVC and being 1 game up on the Redhawks…could Murray State have asked for a better start to conference play?