Climbing the tournament bracket

Story by Bryan Edwards, Staff writer

The Murray State men’s basketball team has to win four games in four days to win the OVC Title and extend their winning season streak to 30 years.

At the press conference on Monday, Head Coach Matt McMahon said the tournament starts a new season and that he is excited to start tournament play.

“We’re certainly looking forward to the tournament,” McMahon said. “We had a really good workout today and we will start preparation tomorrow.”

Following their losses to Southeast Missouri State and UT Martin, the Racers face the task of being a seven seed in the OVC Tournament.

The Racers entered the final week of the season with the opportunity to win the OVC West and receive a two-round bye as the No. 2 seed, but the two losses eliminated the double bye and placed Murray State on the longest road to the title.

The team will have to win four games in four days to win the OVC Championship. The feat is not impossible. Austin Peay did it last season as the eighth seed.

Murray State also faces another challenge: winning without senior guard Damarcus Croaker.

McMahon said the team misses Croaker’s athleticism and ability to drive to the basket and create opportunities for the team.

“Losing the athleticism that Damarcus brought to the floor caused a loss of energy on the floor,” McMahon said. “Going into the Martin game, I felt like we were really missing his athleticism and we started putting Jachai (Taylor) and Gilbert (Thomas) into the game to try to bring some energy into the game.”

The Racers have yet to win a game since Croaker suffered a fractured right foot against Eastern Illinois.

Entering the final weekend of the regular season, the Racers were the highest scoring team in the OVC averaging 80 points per game. Since losing Croaker, the Racers have only averaged 70 points per game.

The Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles are the first team standing in the way of the Racers run to a championship. The two teams face off on Jan. 7, when the Golden Eagles took down the Racers 71-67 in Cookeville, Tennessee. The two teams will square off at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1 at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.