Story by Blake Sandlin, Assistant Sports Editor
For the first time all season, all five starters on the Murray State basketball team finished in double figures as the Racers topped Morehead State 87-81.
To the surprise of some, the Eagles, which sit at the bottom of the OVC standings, tested the Racers’ limits in Thursday night’s game broadcasted on ESPNU. Morehead State managed to momentarily steal the lead from Murray State with 6:25 remaining in the second half, but senior forward Terrell Miller and senior guard Jonathan Stark responded by combining for 17 of the Racers’ final 20 points.
In total, Stark led the way once again for the Racers with 23 points and six assists, but Miller added an all-around performance as he scored 21 points, skying for 11 rebounds and earning four assists. Freshman guard Ja Morant and junior guard Shaq Buchanan scored 17 and 14 points, respectively. Sophomore forward Jalen Dupree rounded out the effort with 10 points of his own to help propel the Racers to the six-point victory.
The Eagles were led by AJ Hicks, who scored 19 points and accrued three steals. However, Morehead State’s competitive effort can be attributed partly to the performance of its supporting cast. The Racers finished the game with only 2 bench points, compared to the Eagles 27. Londell King scored 18 points off the bench to keep the Eagles alive, but Murray State’s collective performance proved too much for the in-state rival.
However, Thursday night’s game carried much heavier weight than the average one. As Marshall County High School is attempting to recuperate from the horrific events that shook the county on Tuesday, Murray State students and players offered a gesture of solidarity in support of the victims.
Racer players donned orange warm up shirts featuring the state of Kentucky, emblazoned with the words “Marshall Strong”, while Murray State Head Coach Matt McMahon wore an orange and blue tie. Murray State Greek students showed their support for the community as well, as they collaborated to wear the school’s trademark orange and blue.
Murray State Head Coach Matt McMahon offered up his condolences to the victims and the grieving community after Thursday’s game.
“I almost feel a little guilty talking basketball with what’s transpired in our community this week,” McMahon said. “It’s just been a devastating week in our community and on behalf of our program and Murray State University, I just want to offer our sincerest condolences to Bailey Holt and Preston Cope’s family, and all those that were injured and fighting right now. I saw Bailey Holt’s mom’s interview today, and it just rips your heart out. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Marshall County as they fight through this incredibly difficult time.”
The Racers will have one more game in The Bank before they get back on the road. They’ll welcome Eastern Kentucky to town; a game that kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27, at the CFSB Center.