(WITH VIDEO) – The Racers asserted their dominance early as they faced the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cougars Thursday night at the CFSB Center. Senior forward Jarvis Williams won the tip for the Racers, bettering SIUE’s 6’10” forward Keaton Jackson and giving Murray State a strong start.
Senior forward Jonathan Fairell put the first point of the game on the board as he went one-for-two on free throws less than a minute into the game. The Racers quickly built up a lead as junior forward Jeffery Moss sank shot after shot.
The Cougars guarded sophomore point guard Cameron Payne hard, tripping him up multiple times, not avoiding the foul call. Coverage on Fairell was just as tight as the Racers remained calm under physical pressure.
The Racers steadily built their lead as they entered the bonus with five minutes left to play in the first half. Murray State followed suit with 3:27 left to play as SIUE’s senior guard Rozell Nunn went one-for-two on free throws, cutting the Racers’ lead to 30- 13.
Things got scrappy on the court and in the stands as Nunn drew a foul despite his flying elbows with under three to play in the first half. The fans voiced unhappiness with the officials as the clock wound down, but the Racers fed off their energy. Murray State entered the double bonus with 4.6 seconds to play as redshirt sophomore guard Justin Seymour made both free throws, solidifying a decisive lead over the Cougars 40-16 at the half.
The Racers didn’t let up as they took to the floor once again, increasing their lead to 31 by the time the clock hit 12 minutes. The Cougars appeared shook up as the Racers remained calm, refusing to let the lead slip as they have in past games.
A sense of calm flooded the CFSB Center as the clock hit eight minutes and the Racers continued to build their lead. The starters found more bench time as younger, less experienced players found their time to shine with a 33 point lead.
The Racers entered the double bonus with over six minutes to play. Two of their players fouled out and a third, senior guard Michael Messer, faced foul trouble in the final minutes of the game. The Racers avoided such trouble with Payne, Seymour and Moss racking up just three fouls each in the second half.
With 3:51 left to play, sophomore guard Jeff Martin entered the game with screaming approval from fans. Freshman guard Kedrick Flomo took over on offense as the Racers slowed the pace of game without slowing their scoring.
In the last minute of the game, the Cougars took advantage of a steal and put a basket in to cut the lead to 75-43. Martin sunk a 3-pointer, earning a standing ovation with less than 20 seconds to play. Those three points were the last of the game as the clock timed out, and the Racers won their 20th straight game 78-46.
Next up for the Racers is a 6 p.m. tip off Saturday against Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Story by Mallory Tucker