Before traveling to Florida for the Gulf Coast Showcase, the Racers had their first Division I win under Head Coach Matt McMahon Tuesday night, 76-65.
It was obvious from the jump that whichever team hustled hardest would come out victorious as the Racers took on Middle Tennessee State. Senior forward Wayne Langston won the tip, but junior Bryce Jones was unable to retrieve it before it bounced out of bounds under the Racers’ basket.
The Blue Raiders came out with a fire at first, taking an early 5-0 lead. The Racers were quick to cut the deficit, though, as junior forward Gee McGhee tied it up just over 10 minutes into the game and drew the foul to take the lead on a free throw.
Freshman Chad Culbreath contributed valuable minutes off the bench in the first half with five points, a rebound and a steal. Senior Jeffery Moss added 10 points, two assists and three rebounds before the Racers entered the locker room with a 37-30 lead at halftime.
The Racers put up the first points of the second half, but the Blue Raiders quickly went on a run to cut their deficit to five. Murray State maintained the lead throughout, but not without a few scares, including a back-to-back pair of threes from MTSU’s Reggie Upshaw and Jaqawn Raymond.
Moss matched his leadership role with his stats against the Blue Raiders, totaling 19 points and going six for six from the free throw line. The team’s only other senior, Langston, added 15 points of his own while junior Damarcus Croaker made a strong showing under the basket with eight rebounds and an assertive late-game dunk. Culbreath added 10 points in his 14 minutes on the court, and Jones added nine points, four rebounds and six assists. Gee McGhee contributed seven points and four points, communicating with a strong voice on the court.
Moss ended the game by sinking two free throws with less than 20 seconds on the clock. The Racers bested the Blue Raiders 76-65 with a standing ovation from Racer Nation.
“I don’t care about positions, we’re going to play guys and put them out there and play extremely hard,” McMahon said. “We played with great toughness. Brion and A.J. are going to be very good players for us.”
Friday, the Racers travel to Athens, Georgia to take on the University of Georgia Bulldogs for the first SEC game of the season. The Bulldogs were 21-12 in the 2014-15 season and 11-7 in conference play.
After taking on the Bulldogs, the Racers travel to Estero, Florida for the Gulf Coast Showcase Monday-Wednesday.
Matching up with the Racers in the first round is the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Panthers. The Panthers were 14-16 overall in the 2014-15 season and 9-7 in conference play.
The Racers tip off at 11 a.m. Nov. 23 in Estero, Florida then return home to take on Alabama A & M at 7 p.m. on Nov. 28 in the CFSB Center.
“That’s been the emphasis – we knew those were going to be the potential best line ups for us,” McMahon said. “We’ve got good size on the perimeter too now. Good size, good athleticism. They are more than capable of putting their weight on the glass.”