Story by Kelsey Randolph, Sports Editor
For the first time since 2011, Murray State lost to Austin Peay State 76-73 at home Saturday. The Racers took their recent road troubles and turned it around, but Head Coach Matt McMahon said in his 20 years of college basketball, the loss against the Governors is one of the most disappointing.
“That’s life and we made mistakes,” McMahon said. “Unfortunately, when that happens we’ve got to regroup and move forward with our season. Can’t let it tear the team apart or snowball effect. We’ve got to move forward and get better.”
Coming back from a road stretch where the foul trouble was prevalent in the minds of McMahon and the players, the team watched officials’ tape and organized their plays accordingly. McMahon said the idea was to play more in the zone to protect senior forward Wayne Langston from fouling, but it ultimately led to leaving the Governors open to shoot from behind the arc.
“Just take everything day by day and focus on getting better today and just building each day to get better as a team,” said senior forward Jeffery Moss.
Looking at a short bench, the Racers have too limited a number of players to allow for pulsed playing time. Both Langston and junior guard Bryce Jones have played more than 35 minutes in most of conference play. McMahon believes that while the number on the bench is limited, the players are young and able-bodied.
“I’m not a big believer in that, I mean you got someone who is 20 years old and a great athlete that’s played their whole life,” McMahon said. “You can play on Thursday and Saturday. Yeah, we’ve got a quicker turnaround and they have to absorb a lot in a shorter time, but the depth is that it is what it is. It’s not changing.”
Saturday, the Racers led the floor for 38:10 minutes of the game, only giving up the lead twice before the last 29 seconds.
After the late charge by the Governors, the Racers attempted a 3-pointer and a full court shot in hopes to change the outlook. They were left with four players in foul trouble, including Langston, Jones, freshman forward Charles Brown and junior guard Justin Seymour.
Moss led the team with 27 points, which was a career high for him. The last three games Moss has taken the lead in points. McMahon described Moss’ play as “amazing,” and prior to conference, he addressed the issues he thought Moss was struggling with before conference play.
“We addressed some issues where I thought he was struggling,” McMahon said. “From a confidence standpoint, I felt there was too much pressure to be ‘the next guy,’ weighing so much outside expectations it affects you on court play. He came back relaxed, playing with more confidence, taking better shots … I’m just really happy for him.”
The Racers are second in the OVC West and looking to beat the No. 1 Eastern Illinois Thursday night. After traveling to play the Panthers, the Racers will host Southeast Missouri State at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Racers took the Redhawks home court advantage last week, beating them 82-78. Moss said beating them at home doesn’t mean anything.
“It doesn’t give me any confidence that we already beat them,” Moss said. “It just gives me confidence that I know the type of team we have and I know we are going to bounce back.”