Someone forgot to tell the Racers tonight’s game was just an exhibition.
Murray State eviscerated Bethel 77-32 in their scrimmage Tuesday night in front of a small partisan crowd. The season officially begins on Friday at 7:45 p.m. in the CFSB Center against Harris-Stowe.
The Racers finished the game with 52 percent shooting from the floor and 6-17 (.353) behind the arc, all while holding the Wildcats to 25 percent shooting from the floor and forcing 27 turnovers.
Head Coach Steve Prohm, who replaced Billy Kennedy after the former coach took the head coaching position at Texas A&M, coached familiar basketball tonight, relying on hard-nosed defense and quick transitions to get easy baskets and force Bethel to play faster than they wanted.
Bethel was outmuscled on the boards 45-27 as four players finished with five or more rebounds on the night.
Prohm unveiled his starting lineup of senior forwards Ed Daniel and Ivan Aska, junior point guard Isaiah Canaan and senior guards Donte Poole and Jewaun Long and confirmed the lineup going forward.
“I think experience is big,” Prohm said. “From there on, we’ll continue to build our bench in Zay Jackson, Latreze Mushatt, Stacey Wilson and Brandon Garrett if they can continue to develop.”
Canaan let his shooting do the talking, hitting four 3-pointers and finishing with a team-high 16 points on 6-15 (.400) shooting, while Aska finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
The only negative on the night was poor shooting from the charity stripe, as the Racers converted just 5-16 (.313) from the free throw line.
Prohm said the team suggested extra practice on free throws in the huddle during the end of the game.
“You can’t win big if you go 5-16 (from the line),” he said.
While exceptional play is expected of the starters, Prohm said the play from the bench was a bright spot in the game.
The bench combined for 29 points and 23 rebounds, including a stellar 12-point, nine-rebound night from guard Latreze Mushatt who sat out last year as a redshirt transfer from University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Prohm said the players were locked in defensively in an all-around team effort.
“I just try to challenge them every four minutes to focus and play hard,” he said. “They would let go for 30 seconds, and then I would bring them in or sub to get them focused.”
Jewaun Long said it was nice to get on the court and defend someone else besides his own teammates.
“It gets old sometimes, so it feels good to go out and play somebody else,” he said.
Ivan Aska said the starters played a mentor role while they were on the bench, helping the rotation players and new transfers get a feel for the game.
“We just told the young guys to go out there and play defense,” he said. “Do the things that you do best and go out and play hard.”
Both Aska and Long agreed the defense has a long way to go before they’re at peak performance.
However, tonight, they said, was a great start.