Stark’s 27 lifts Racers past Salukis

Photo by Blake Sandlin/TheNews

Story by Blake Sandlin, Assistant Sports Editor

A 27-point effort by senior guard Jonathan Stark helped to solidify a 81-73 victory for Murray State’s men’s basketball.

A seven-day hiatus for the Racer basketball team didn’t prove costly, as the Racers moved to 3-1. A strong second half display by Murray State helped the Racers overcome a 37-31 halftime deficit after out-rebounding the Salukis 24-12 in the second half.

After coming into halftime losing the rebounding battle, Head Coach Matt McMahon challenged his team to respond – and that they did.

“I thought we looked like a team that hadn’t played in a week,” McMahon said. “I thought we were a little sluggish in the first half. We let the ball stick on one side of the floor too much, and I thought their guys really out-toughed us on some plays. So I thought our guys really stepped up to the challenge in the second half, and they deserve all the credit.”

The Racers had four players reach double figures in scoring. Stark’s 27 points and eight assists were complemented by senior forward Terrell Miller’s 16 points and eight rebounds. Junior guard Shaq Buchanan added 15 points, while junior forward Anthony Smith recorded 12 points off the bench to lead the Racers to the win.

Southern Illinois Head Coach Barry Hinson complimented the Racers’ selfless effort in Saturday’s game, and said Racer fans have a lot to be encouraged about.

“I’m encouraged for Murray State; I think Matt [McMahon] has got a good ball club,” Hinson said. “I’m excited for them and I’m excited for Racer fans because I do think they’ve got a much better ball club than they had. The thing that they’re doing is they’re sharing the ball. They’re passing the basketball. It doesn’t look like to me that they have a lot of egos going on out there tonight.”

Junior forward Jalen Dupree was a no-show throughout most of the game, although he saw four minutes in the second half. Head Coach Matt McMahon described Dupree’s minutes restriction as a coach’s decision following the game.

The Salukis provided a collective offensive effort, as eight of their players added six points or more in the losing effort. Junior Sean Lloyd led the charge for Southern Illinois, recording 19 points.

The Racers return to action at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28 at the CFSB Center in a matchup against Harris-Stowe State University (3-4).