The Murray State men’s basketball team is 9-0 for the first time since the 1998-99 season. The Racers defeated the Dayton Flyers 75-58 Sunday in the CFSB Center in the first meeting between the teams since Murray State won 76-69 in 1997.
A member of the Atlantic-10 Conference, the Dayton Flyers couldn’t stand against the Racer defense. Murray State forced Dayton to 17 turnovers and the Flyers went only three for 21 behind the arc.
“First off I just want to give Murray State and their coaching staff a lot of credit,” Dayton Head Coach Archie Miller said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they had 30 wins at the end of the year and I’d hate to draw them in the NCAA tournament – that’s as tenacious of a team of five or seven guys on defense that I’ve seen in a while, they are physical in all five positions and they played well to the end of every possession. We knew coming in their guard play was terrific and they continued to be terrific here today.”
Both teams had seven steals, but the number that impressed Head Coach Steve Prohm the most was the assists.
“I’m proud of our guys’ ability to compete, play hard and play together,” Prohm said. “I think our biggest stat of the game was the 19 assists. That means they’re sharing the ball and playing for one another. I’ve got a lot of respect for Dayton and Coach Miller and that program so it was a great win for us today.”
In front of 3,857 people, Murray State’s junior guard Isaiah Canaan lead the game in scoring with 21 points which puts him 69 points away from becoming the 38th member of the 1,000-point club.
“Nobody likes losing, we’ve got off to a great start and we’re going to try to keep that going,” Canaan said. “We’re going to do everything that coach asks of us and make it fun for everybody that’s watching us and earn the respect coach says we’ve got to keep gaining. We’re looking forward to any challenges that are put in front of us and we’re going to try to keep this winning streak going.”
The Racers out-rebounded the Flyers 27-25 and both teams had seven steals, but Murray State’s 9 of 15 performance at the arc was considerably better than Dayton’s 3 of 21.
Coming off the bench for the Racers was freshman forward Latreze Mushatt who played for 24 minutes and helped the Racers to 14 points, five rebounds and was 6 for 8 from the field.
“It felt good but getting that win felt much better than anything I did,” Mushatt said. “I’m just trying to find my way, I had to sit out last year and so I’m trying to figure out how things work in the offense and I was just letting the game come to me and anytime I could get a rebound I’d get it.”
Just because Murray State has a perfect record doesn’t mean the Racers have perfect play. On the contrary, both Prohm and players are aware of opportunities to improve.
“We need to improve on defense,” Mushatt said. “Sometimes, like in the second half, we let teams get back in the game and that’s something we shouldn’t do, we’ve got to continue to play hard in the second half and that’s going to push us to the next level. We’ve got to play defense the full 40 minutes. When you’re watching us it’s exciting and that’s because we’re playing defensively.”
“(We need to continue) tightening up in the second half which comes with a little fatigue,” Canaan said. “We’ve got to learn to play through the fatigue and we’ll be fine we just have to maintain that second half drought that we usually have. I think we did great playing back at home today and I think that’s why the lead spread to the lead we had. If we continue to do that we’re going to do great and we’ll just tighten up in those areas.”
The Racers now turn their attention to academics and focusing on finals before competing against its final nonconference opponent Memphis at 5 p.m. in the FedExForum.