The CFSB Center had a nationally ranked team in the building for the first time. It just so happened to be the home team.
Ed Daniel and Ivan Aska both scored 16 points and No. 24 Murray State won its first game as a ranked team in 13 years, an 89-65 victory over Lipscomb on Thursday night.
“We’re really not too much hyped about being ranked,” Daniel said. “We like being ranked but we’re not trying to focus on that the whole time. We’re still going to be the same team that plays hard and goes hard and play everybody like they’re ranked No. 1.”
The Racers (10-0) have Steve Prohm off to the best start for a rookie coach in Murray State history.
Isaiah Canaan added 13 points for the Racers, who won their 14th straight non-conference game, a streak dating to February 2009.
“Coach Prohm has a great personality and he cares about our team more than anything,” Canaan said, “and the same way he cares about us we care about him and we try to go out and play as hard as we can for him.”
Daniel scored the first seven points for Murray State who led by 16 points at halftime and pulled away throughout the second half.
The Racers, who forced Lipscomb into 23 turnovers, had 15 steals and 25 assists.
Malcom Smith led the Bisons (6-6) with 13 points, while Robert Boyd added nine.
“I thought we had some advantage in the post,” Prohm said. “I said in practice yesterday this is one of the games we want to get the ball inside. We’ve been playing against 6-foot-9, 6-foot-10 guys for the last month and this was the first time I think we saw guys our size so we wanted to get the ball inside.”
Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson had one thing to say after his team lost to Murray State Thursday night:
“They’re as good as advertised,” Sanderson said.
Lipscomb, who are 0-4 on the road, face an intensifying schedule as they head to Memphis on Monday to take on the team Murray State beat last Saturday to earn its national ranking.
“They’re very good,” Sanderson said. “When you turn the ball over as much as we did tonight it’s not going to be much of a game and we
had a lot of perimeter turnovers and you can’t do that against anybody let alone Murray State who are extremely athletic and quick and can get the ball up and down the floor.”
Murray State had five players in the double figures as Jewaun Long had 11 points and Stacy Wilson 10.
The bench provided 26 points and 15 rebounds for the Racers, who had 12 players on the 13-man roster see action.
As the clock dwindled down the Racers’ lead kept going up with the largest margin 34 points on a dunk by Aska with just under 8 minutes remaining.
“We really talk about our game plan and our game plan is real simple,” Prohm said. “We’re not complicated, they just play hard, pressure the ball and deny the wings, fly around and play with great effort.”
With 7:22 to go, the Racers led 81-50 and Lipscomb, a team that took Ohio Valley Conference preseason favorite Tennessee Tech to overtime on Saturday, seemed to lose all fire.
“We’ve played Austin Peay, Tennessee Tech and Tennessee-Martin and (MurrayState) is by far the best team we’ve played so far in the OVC this year,” Sanderson said.
“I’m very excited to get a good win tonight,” Prohm said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Lipscomb and Coach Sanderson, I think they have a really good basketball team. They were 3-1 against our league and really had a chance against Tech. They got up 24-11 against Tech and then Tech had to catch up and they were able to win the game.”
At just under 5 minutes on the clock, both Prohm and Canaan were yelling from the bench as Canaan aggressively interlocked his fingers, reminding the team to stay unified.
Prohm, yelling at the new players so hard his voice gave out, took a seat – an unlikely scene for the rookie coach who stands or squats through games.
“I want those older guys to teach and coach those older guys,” Prohm said. “The expectation shouldn’t change if we’re up 30 or 20 or if we have bench guys in – you play the way we play on the defense end of the floor by playing hard.”
Fourteen of the Racers’ 44 second-half points were dunks.
“It was very exciting,” Daniel said. “Everybody was playing on the steals and leaking out and it was extremely fun.”