Former Houston Rockets assistant coach Kelvin Sampson looked displeased with his team as he made his return to collegiate basketball only to see his team couldn’t find a lead against mid-major Murray State throughout the first half. They closed the gap with less than a minute left before halftime, however, bringing the Racers’ lead to just 42-38 as the buzzer sounded.
The Racers came out swinging once again in the second half with back-to-back buckets. The crowd was rambunctious as the men held their small lead against the Cougars. Both teams held strong as the score gap remained small. Payne got the crowd going with a dunk to increase the Racers’ lead to 56-48 with 13:17 left to play.
Houston didn’t quit, however, as redshirt sophomore forward Danrad Knowles put up a huge dunk for the Cougars before junior guard Eric Weary, Jr. hit a three-pointer to put the Racers up by just one basket. Houston then tied the score with just under ten minutes to play.
Junior forward Jeffery Moss put the Racers back on top with a three-pointer and two free throws within a minute.
Houston grabbed their first lead of the game with a layup by junior forward Devonta Pollard. He was fouled on the play and made his free throw, making the score 68-66 with 6:18 left in the game.
The Racers were unable to regain their lead as basket after basket bounced off the rim. Senior forward Jarvis Williams put three free throws on the board, and the Racers trailed by four as they called a timeout with 1:11 left to play.
The pressure was on as the Racers forced a turnover and Payne put it up for a basket to cut the score to just two points. The crowd was relentless as Houston lobbed it downcourt just to be caught by a sliding player who was called for traveling. Murray State called yet another timeout with just 51.4 seconds to play.
The Racers foul in the bonus and the Cougars go one-for-two at the free throw line, putting the Racers down by three. Payne misses a three on the next possession and the Racers foul once again. The Cougars miss the free throw and senior guard T.J. Sapp takes it downcourt in attempt of a buzzer beater. The clock times out as the ball hits the backboard and the Racers fall to Houston during the season-opener.