After a 67-60 loss at SIUE, a visibly frustrated Steve Prohm sat across from me in SIUE’s media room for what would be his shortest post-game press conference since conference play began.
“You can’t go on the road and give up 50% from the field,” Prohm said, “50% from the three-point line, although they only made five, and get outrebounded and have more turnovers and expect to win. I don’t care who you play.”
“I think we let our offensive game in the second half predicate how we played defensively,” Prohm added.
In the second half, Murray State scored 23 points on 9-27 shooting, their lowest offensive output in any half all season. It wasn’t just one player that struggled from the floor: Cameron Payne was just 1-7 in the final 20 minutes, T.J. Sapp 1-5. The exception: Jeffrey Moss, who hit 5-9 in the second half, finishing the game with a team-high 17 points.
“You can’t go on the road and give up 50% from the field, 50% from the three-point line…get outrebounded and have more turnovers and expect to win. I don’t care who you play.”
“The zone did bother us some,” Prohm admitted after the game. SIUE switched to a zone defense midway through the second half, sparking a long dry spell for the Racers, who scored just three field goals in the game’s final nine minutes. “We haven’t spent a whole lot of time on zone offense, except for our core package.”
Payne, who has emerged as a leader for the Racers on the court despite being just a freshman, was held to nine points on the night, his first sub-10 point game since the Racers played at Western Kentucky in November.
“I just thought he settled,” Prohm said. “He’s got to continue to grow and mature, because he’s our point guard, our leader, and when he’s really good offensively, and in transition, we’re a different team.
Despite Payne’s struggles, he still drew praise from SIUE head coach Lennox Forrester.
“I know he got to the bucket there a few times, especially to finish the first half,” Forrester admitted. “We try to treat him like [Isaiah] Canaan, because he’s very good, very deadly.”
After a series of good performances, Jonathan Fairell struggled to stay on the court. He played just two minutes in the first half, before being forced to sit with foul trouble, and quick back-to-back fouls in the second limited his minutes more. Prohm said he’d like to see the tape on the first half fouls.
“Fairell’s been playing really good for us,” Prohm said. “That was tough. That was really, really, really tough.”
Despite the loss, the Racers are still tied for first place in the OVC, and two games up on SIUE in the Western Division. They return home to face Tennessee Tech on Thursday.