Racer basketball fans got their first look at the reconstructed 2013-14 Murray State basketball team Saturday night during a scrimmage against Freed Hardeman. After a slow start, the Racers turned it on in the second half, outscoring the Lions 53-28 en route to a 95-68 victory.
After practicing for more than a month, the Racers admitted they were ready for some live action in front of their own fans.
“We’ve been patiently waiting and working hard every day in practice,” said sophomore Jeffery Moss. “We were just excited as a team to go out there and play somebody else in front of our fans.”
The new-look team struggled at times through the first 20 minutes, thanks in part to early foul trouble and costly turnovers.
The second half was a different story, however, as the Racer defense held the Lions to just 28 points.
The offense got into a groove and scored several points in transition off of forced turnovers, which allowed the Racers to pull away for the big win.
“We started off slow, but in the second half we came out and locked in on defense and just made the game fun for us,” Moss said.
Prohm’s team was led by a slew of new faces including freshman Cameron Payne and junior college transfer Jarvis Williams, both of whom wowed fans in their first appearances as Racers.
Payne, a freshman from Bartlett, Tenn., recently took over the starting point guard position after Zay Jackson tore is ACL in practice and left the program a few weeks later.
In his first collegiate action, Payne scored nine points and dished out a game-high eight assists.
Williams also had a big night. The Gordon State Junior College transfer earned his first double-double, scoring 19 points while pulling down 11 rebounds in 26 minutes.
Like much of the team, Williams struggled in the first half, but lit up the statistics sheet during the final 20 minutes.
The 6’8” junior attributed his slow start to the nerves of playing in his first game as a Racer.
“After I got that first half under my belt, I felt almost invincible,” Williams said. “It was just a whole new attitude. I was running faster, because you know when you’re nervous it slows you down, but I got all that out the window and just had fun.”
“From now on, people should expect the whole package, starting from the first minute,” Williams said. “Now that I’ve got that first big time game under my belt with the fans and everything, I’m ready to roll.”
Prohm admitted he was nervous before the exhibition. Prior to Saturday’s game, only two players on the Murray State roster had seen more than 25 minutes in a single game.
“I didn’t really know what to expect tonight,” Prohm said. “We’re still figuring out how we need to play.”
With the exhibition in their rear view mirror, the Racers must now prepare for the games that count.
The Racers’ season tips off against the Crusaders at 7:30 p.m. tonight when they travel to Valparaiso, Ind., before hosting Brescia at 7 p.m. Tuesday at home.
Story by Jonathan Ferris, Sports writer