OVC Ball Statbox
|(6) Murray State||36||30||66|
|17-14 (10-6 OVC)|
|(3) Morehead State||29||46||75|
|19-11 (11-5 OVC)|
|21/52 (40.4%)||Field Goals||24/51 (47.1%)|
|6/23 (26.1%)||3-Point FG||5/13 (38.5%)|
|18/21 (85.7%)||Free Throws||22/29 (75.9%)|
|27 (9/18)||Rebounds (O/D)||38 (14/24)|
|13||2nd Chance Pts||17|
|6||Points off TO||12|
|26||Pts in the Paint||28|
Tempo Tracker (Possessions)
(6) Murray State offense
(3) Morehead State offense
What happened: Forcing missed shots is only half of the equation in basketball. The other half?
Getting the rebound.
Morehead State crashed the glass, and pulled down offensive boards on 10 of their 14 missed shots (71.4%) in the second half, and all but shut down the Racers over the last 6:40 of the game in a 75-66 win.
It’s the seventh straight win for the hottest team in the OVC, but this one was special for head coach Sean Woods.
Woods walked into the post game press conference, sat down, and was asked for an opening comment. What followed was a long pause — five, six seconds, before any words were spoken. “This is the first time I’ve ever beaten Murray State,” Woods said. “This was was personal for me, because of their mystique in the OVC.”
Anthony Elichi and Xavier Moon led Morehead State with 17 and 16 points, respectively, with Elichi attacking inside, and Moon hitting a pair of big second half threes, and driving the ball into the paint.
“This was was personal for me.”
Murray State’s star crossed season culimated in a performance marred by fouls, and yet another injury. Damarcus Croaker played just 15 minutes, and head coach Matt McMahon says that he injured his ankle after landing on a Morehead State player following a rebound. Wayne Langston was limited to 21 minutes, picking up two early first half fouls, and a third just minutes into the second half.
Depsite all that, the Racers held a 36-29 lead at the break, led by a huge first half from Bryce Jones. But Morehead opened the second half immediately with an 8-0 run, negating the advantage. Murray State held Morehead to just four first half offensive rebounds, before the flood gates opened in the final 20 minutes.
What it means: It’s hard to really put a period on this season. McMahon had an uphill climb from the word ‘go,’ and he really handled a lot of trials this season about as well as he could. In a lot of ways, it mirrored the first season of Billy Kennedy, who needed time to replenish a roster left bare.
Despite not getting an all-OVC bid, Wayne Langston was among, if not the most improved player in the league. Last year at this time, no one would have said this guy could be an elite post player in the league, and he proved to be just that.
The end result is a ‘disappointing’ season by Murray State standards, but they keep their now 29-season long streak of winning seasons alive, and they really made some waves in the last few weeks of the year.
Player of the Night: Jones has one more year remaining with the Racers. If he can bottle his play from this game for next season, he’s going to be a deadly weapon for Murray State.
What’s Next: Will the CIT invite back the former champions? It was only two years ago, after all. The Racers record is a little low, but I wouldn’t be at all shocked if they get a chance to play at least one more game.
What it means: Clealy, the win meant a lot to Woods, but it also means a lot to the program. Morehead State has been a ‘good’ team for several years under Woods, but they just haven’t been able to get ‘over the hump’ in March. This win is a great start to doing just that.
Woods’ said, when asked about his team’s impressive offensive rebounding performance in the second half that “this is what we do,” but this wasn’t just another good night on the offensive glass. This was a dominating performance, against the best defensive rebounding team in the league. The offense wasn’t bad either — Morehead State hit 47% from the field, and 39% from three-point range. You’ll take those numbers even without the 17 second chance points.
Player of the Night: Elechi was huge inside, but I felt like it was Moon’s three’s that really swung the momentum in Morehead State’s favor.
What’s Next: The other really hot team in the OVC. Morehead State gets UT Martin, winners of eight of their last nine. The Eagles won the only matchup this year, 64-58, but that was eons ago. (January 9th, to be exact)