Story by Blake Sandlin, Assistant Sports Editor
Senior guard Jonathan Stark’s nine points matched his career-scoring low in Racer basketball’s Saturday night matchup with Florida A&M University, but that didn’t stop one of his teammates from setting his career-high.
Three Racers – senior forward Terrell Miller, junior guard Shaq Buchanan and freshman guard Ja Morant – combined for 50 of the team’s 80 points in Murray State’s 80-59 win. Buchanan led the charge with 21, Miller added 17 and Morant pitched in with 12 points and nine assists. Head Coach Matt McMahon said the depth of his team is paramount to a well-balanced attack.
“I think we’ve had good balance,” McMahon said. “We’ve got multiple guys who can create for others. We’ve got guys who can shoot inside, we’ve got guys who can shoot well from three.”
The two teams struggled to buy a bucket early on, as the game was 12-11 in favor of the Rattlers after over ten minutes of first half play. However, a crucial defensive effort by Murray State minutes later helped the Racers string together a 12-0 run to end the half 42-27.
Murray State continued to assert their will into the second half, as Buchanan went on to score the bulk of his points. He added 14 second-half points to solidify his career-high as a Racer.
“I take easy shots; I be patient,” Buchanan said. “I don’t force anything. I just run in transition and that’s where I get most of my points. So I just spot up and get to my spots where I know I can shoot high percentages and I just make those shots.”
Junior forward Anthony Smith provided a spark off the bench, skying for seven rebounds, five of which came on the offensive end. He coupled that with nine points in just 13 minutes of second half play.
They forced the Rattlers to turn the ball over a combined 13 times, culminating in 16 points off those turnovers. Murray State excelled in handling the ball on Saturday, turning the ball over just five times in the win.
The team was able to claim the win despite the absence of junior guard Byron Hawkins, who missed the game due to sickness. Hawkins is expected to return to practice on Monday, Dec. 4.
With the win, the Racers improved to 5-1 and will get a lengthy seven-day hiatus before embarking on their second road game against Illinois State University. They’ll look to repeat their narrow 73-70 victory against the Redbirds when they tip-off at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11 in Normal, Illinois.