Story by Bryan Edwards, Staff Writer
Following their winning weekend last week, the Murray State men’s basketball have another two games in slate for the opening weekend of the spring semester.
After defeating Eastern Illinois and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville last weekend, the Racers currently sit with a 10-9 overall record and a 4-1 record in the OVC, which places them in first place in the Ohio Valley Conference’s western division.
The Racers return home after posting a 3-1 record in their four-game road trip.
The Racers will be returning to the CFSB Center for the first time in 2017 and will play host to the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.
Head Coach Matt McMahon is happy to be back home and said the team is ready to play in front of the Murray State crowd.
“The CFSB Center is one of the top environments in the country,” McMahon said. “We certainly look forward to getting back out on our court in front of our fans.”
The Racers have been led by their top two scorers, junior guard Jonathan Stark (20.6 PPG) and junior forward Terrell Miller Jr (14.8 PPG) but have seen a resurgence of play from the team’s leading scorer from last season in senior guard Bryce Jones.
Since conference play began, Jones has averaged 15.8 points while shooting 60 percent from beyond the arc. Jones credits former OVC Player of the Year and current assistant coach for the women’s basketball team Aubrey Reese for his play.
“I went back to what makes me who I am, and that’s being a hard worker,” Jones said. “I talked to Reese and he told me to stick with what made me who I am, so I went to the gym and worked until I was happy with my shot again.”
The trio of Stark, Miller and Jones lead the Racers into a matchup against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels, who sit at 8-12 overall and a 1-4 record in the OVC.
Although the Colonels have a losing record so far in the season, McMahon said he doesn’t want to take them lightly.
“Eastern Kentucky is a good basketball team, they have a really good leader in Nick Mayo and a great freshman guard in Asante Gist,” McMahon said. “We expect a tough game and hope to come out with a win.”
Following the matchup against Eastern Kentucky, the Racers will hit the road again for the first of two meetings against the defending OVC Tournament Champions of Austin Peay.
The two teams will go at each other in another chapter of the 2016 Heritage Bank Battle of the Border.
Austin Peay currently sits at 6-13 overall with a 2-3 record in the OVC. The Governors are led by Josh Robinson, who averages 21.8 points and lead the team with 66 assists for the year. Robinson was named the OVC Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 8, averaging 31 points in two games over that week.
The Battle of the Border is a 67-point competition between the two schools and the points are awarded for performances both on the field and in the communities. Murray State currently leads Austin Peay State 16.5-1.5 after five events, with the next installment of the rivalry being when the two basketball teams square off on Saturday, Jan. 21.
The Racers look to improve on their record and keep their momentum when they host the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky at 7 p.m. on Thursday Jan. 19 in the CFSB Center.