Story by Blake Sandlin, Assistant Sports Editor
Murray State men’s basketball responded resoundingly from their Thursday loss to Belmont by claiming an emphatic road victory against Tennessee State.
The Racers beat the Tigers 76-57 on Saturday, Jan. 20, to improve to 14-5 and to keep them in second place in the OVC standings.
“I was really thrilled with our defensive effort and focus,” McMahon said. “I thought our guys were really locked in on that end of the floor. We didn’t give up many assists because we were doing a good job of taking them out of their actions. And then I thought they defended the three-point line really well; they were 4-of-20 and they were making over eight a game in league play.”
Racer senior guard Jonathan Stark continued his streak of prolific performances by dropping 25 points.
McMahon said Stark’s inspired performance was inevitable considering his streaky shooting in Thursday’s matchup with Belmont in which he shot 8-of-21 from the field.
“He was unbelievable in the first half, and I knew he would play well tonight because he missed some shots he normally makes on Thursday,” McMahon said. “I know he was disappointed and I knew he would bounce back and have a strong performance.”
Senior forward Terrell Miller and freshman guard Ja Morant both contributed 12 points. Morant recorded a loaded stat line that Racer fans have become accustomed to, adding nine rebounds and seven assists.
For the second time in as many games, junior guard Byron Hawkins scored in double figures with 11 points.
Surprisingly, the Racers were able to win the turnover battle against the Tigers, who are ranked first in the OVC and 18th nationally in turnovers forced. Murray State only turned the ball over 11 times to the Tigers’ 15.
Murray State managed to stifle Tennessee State’s offensive attack throughout the night, holding the Tigers to 37 percent shooting. Senior guard Delano Spencer was the lead man for the Tigers with 13 points.
With the win, the Racers have completed their two-week journey on the road and will now return home for a two-game home stand. The first test for the Racers will feature Morehead State, who will tip-off at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25 at the CFSB Center.