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Shooting for greatness: Prohm lays out expectations for men’s basketball

November 5, 2014 Athletics, Basketball

(VIDEO) – With the men’s basketball team aiming for a deep run into the postseason next spring, Head Coach Steve Prohm breaks down the strengths and challenges for the Racers heading into the season.

You can find out more about the OVC’s preseason No. 1 Racers on Friday in The Murray State News’ basketball special session available on news racks across campus.

Video produced by Josiah Brand and Cameron Witte

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 4.25.43 PM

Men suffer first conference loss 67-60

January 19, 2014 Athletics, Basketball
Lori Allen / The News C.J.Ford, sophomore guard from Fayetteville, N.C., struggles for the ball during the game at SIUE on Saturday.

Lori Allen / The News
C.J.Ford, sophomore guard from Fayetteville, N.C., struggles for the ball during the game at SIUE on Saturday.

Murray State lost its first conference game of the season Saturday afternoon as the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cougars erased the Racers’ 37-32 halftime lead en route to a 67-60 victory.

The Racers’ offense went dry in the second half, shooting 33 percent from the field, including 2-12 from 3-point range.

SIUE, on the other hand, shot 50 percent from the field and came up big defensively in the second half, limiting Murray State to 23 points.

The Cougars took the lead on a Christian Seliech 3-pointer with 8:22 to play, and they never looked back.

Murray State’s leading scorer, freshman guard Cameron Payne, struggled throughout the game, accumulating nine points and three assists while committing four turnovers.

Sophomore forward, Jeffery Moss (31), attempts a field goal against SIUE's strong defense.

Sophomore forward, Jeffery Moss (31), attempts a field goal against SIUE’s strong defense.

The Racers also struggled in the paint as junior forward Jonathan Fairell racked up multiple fouls at the beginning of both halves, limiting him to 13 minutes of play.

Sophomore guard Jeffery Moss led the team in scoring, putting up 17 points in 38 minutes of play. Other top scorers included junior guard T.J. Sapp with 11 points and senior guard Dexter Fields with 10.

The loss drops Murray State to 10-8 on the season and 5-1 in conference play. The Racers maintain a two-game lead over the Cougars for the top spot in the OVC West, and are tied with Belmont for the top overall position in the conference.

The Racers can try to return to their winning ways at home as they host Tennessee Tech (10-10, 3-2) Thursday and Jacksonville State (9-13, 3-4) Saturday.

Murray State and Tennessee Tech tip off at 7 PM Saturday night at the CFSB Center.

Staff Report

Late push lifts Racers over Panthers

January 17, 2014 Athletics, Basketball

Despite trailing for the majority of the game Thursday night, a 3-point shot from freshman Cameron Payne with 21 seconds left to play lifted the Racers over Eastern Illinois 70-66 and into sole possession of first place in the OVC.

Payne struggled through most of the first half, committing five turnovers while scoring only two points. The entire team followed suit, losing the rebounding battle 24-17 and committing eight turnovers to Eastern Illinois’ five.

As the first half expired, Eastern Illinois closed the half with a quick scoring flurry, sending Murray State into the locker room trailing 36-28.

Murray State came out of the break ready for a comeback, closing the gap to as few as two.

The Racers’ momentum slowed at the 16:42 mark, however, when junior Jarvis Williams picked up a technical foul, giving him four on the night and sending him to the bench.

Eastern Illinois expanded the lead back to eight, but junior Jonathan Fairell picked up Williams’ slack, pulling down a career-high 14 rebounds while adding eight points as well.

Fairell and the Racers clawed their way back and finally took their first lead of the night with 9:40 left to play in the game as Payne drew a foul and sank both free throws.

The teams traded baskets as the clock wound down until Payne’s step-back 3 put the Racers up for good with 21 seconds left to play.

The win moves Murray State to 10-7 on the year, and keeps the Racers perfect in OVC play as they move to 5-0 in the conference. Belmont lost to Eastern Kentucky earlier in the evening, leaving the Racers as the final undefeated team in conference play.

The Racers now prepare for the final leg of the current road trip as they take on the Southern Illionis University Edwardsville Cougars at 1 p.m. Saturday in Edwardsville, Ill.

Staff Report

Racers remain undefeated in OVC

January 10, 2014 Athletics, Basketball

The men’s basketball team remains perfect in the OVC. A 77-64 victory at Eastern Kentucky moved the Racers to 3-0 in conference play, and 8-7 overall.

The win marked the first road victory of the season so far for the Racers, and it ties their longest win streak of three games.

Senior guard Dexter Fields started the game off hot with three 3-pointers, giving his team an early lead. Fields and the Racers never looked back, as they either led or held a share of the lead the entirety of the game.

Midway through the first half, Murray State started to struggle, allowing the Colonels to tie the game at 19, then again at 21, before the Racers went on a run. At halftime, they led 28-21.

For much of the second half, the teams traded points and turnovers equally. With time winding down and the Racer lead hovering around 10 points, Eastern Kentucky resorted to the foul game. Good free throw shooting from Murray State capped a solid night and gave them an important win.

The Racers dominated the rebounding battle once again. The team has yet to lost this season win they outrebound their opponents.

Freshman guard Cam Payne continued to stand out for Murray State, recording 19 points, five assists and seven rebounds.

Additionally, junior forward Jarvis Williams earned his seventh double-double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Williams hit all nine of his field goal attempts, boosting the Racer shooting percentage to 51 percent for the game.

Now the Racers prepare for a rivalry matchup with Austin Peay at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the CFSB Center. The winner will take the early lead of the OVC West, as neither team has lost a conference game thus far.

Staff Report

Men beat SEMO in OVC opener

Lori Allen // The News ///  Freshman guard Cameron Payne (1), from Bartlett, Tenn., fighting hard against SEMO's defense after hitting three 3-pointers in the first minutes of the game.

Lori Allen // The News
Freshman guard Cameron Payne (1), from Bartlett, Tenn., fighting hard against SEMO’s defense after hitting three 3-pointers in the first minutes of the game.

Prior to the start of the season, Southeast Missouri State and Murray State were picked as co-favorites to win the western division of the OVC. The Racers made a statement Thursday night, defeating the Redhawks 85-72 in the first of two regular-season matchups between the two teams.

The victory moves Murray State to 6-7 on the season, but more importantly gives the Racers a 1-0 start in the conference.

Freshman Cameron Payne got Murray State off to a red-hot start, draining three 3-pointers in the game’s first 1:25. The Racers began the game with a 10-0 run and led 14-2 at the 15:24 mark.

Redhawk junior Nino Johnson kept his team in it, however, scoring nine first-half points. A layup by senior Lucas Nutt pulled SEMO within four as the first half expired.

Clinging to a 38-34 lead, Murray State junior Jarvis Williams took over the game down low. Williams tied a CFSB Center record, pulling down 18 rebounds in the game. Williams also added 16 points and four blocks to secure his sixth double-double of the season.

Junior forward Jarvis Williams had a record night, earning 18 rebounds, 16 points and four blocks.

Lori Allen // The News
Junior forward Jarvis Williams (4) had a record night, earning 18 rebounds, 16 points and four blocks.

Riding the rebounding dominance of Williams, the Racers expanded the lead to 10 with 13:09 to play. SEMO junior Jarekious Bradley would not let his team go down without a fight, however, scoring 13 of the Redhawks’ next 15 points. Bradley drained a mid-range jumper with 7:53 to go to give SEMO its first lead of the night.

Junior T.J. Sapp responded, grabbing a rebound and taking it coast to coast for the quick layup to retake a 61-60 lead. Perhaps more importantly, though, Sapp drew a foul from Bradley on the layup, forcing the Redhawks’ star player to the bench with four fouls. Sapp sank the free throw to complete the three-point play and extend the Murray State lead to two.

The teams traded baskets until Murray State’s defense put the game away in the final minute with two blocks from Williams and a steal by Sapp to seal the deal.

Lori Allen // The News ///  Guard T.J. Sapp (22), junior from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., goes for the rebound against SEMO.

Lori Allen // The News
Guard T.J. Sapp (22), junior from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., goes for the rebound against SEMO.

Though Williams stole the show with his record-setting stat line, Payne and Sapp also had big nights for the Racers.

Payne scored a career-high 23 points and finished with six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Sapp scored 14 coming off the bench and had four rebounds and an assist.

The Racers now look to make it a perfect 2-0 start in conference play as UT Martin prepares to visit the CFSB Center Sunday afternoon.

The last time the two teams met, the Skyhawks stole their first ever win at the CFSB Center, defeating Murray State 69-68 late last season.

The Racers and Skyhawks tip off at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon at the CFSB Center. The game will also be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

 Staff Report

Lori Allen // The News /// Payne(1) goes up for the score, earning a career-high 23 points.

Lori Allen // The News
Payne(1) goes up for the score, earning a career-high 23 points.

Racers fall at Dayton, look to OVC

December 30, 2013 Athletics, Basketball

A fast start was not enough for the Racers Sunday afternoon in a 72-51 loss on the road against the Dayton Flyers, dropping Murray State to 5-7 on the season.

Junior forward Jonathan Fairell scored the Racers’ first six points in the game, giving Murray State a 6-2 advantage less than four minutes into the game.

Murray State continued to match Dayton basket for basket, earning a 17-13 lead halfway through the first period.

The Flyers held the Racers scoreless for the next three minutes, but Murray State scored eight points in the final 9:31 of the half to head into the break trailing 33-25.

The Racers never recovered in the second half. Murray State was outrebounded 28-16 and struggled offensively, making just 37 percent of its attempted field goals. The Flyers pulled away from the second half’s opening whistle en route to the 21 point victory.

Murray State had three players score double-digit points, with freshman Cameron Payne leading the way with 13 points and six assists. Junior T.J. Sapp tallied 12 points and a team-high three steals. Junior Jarvis Williams also chipped in 10 points and four rebounds.

Sapp has been a sparkplug for the team since making his Murray State debut about two weeks ago. In the three games since Sapp’s first appearance, the junior guard leads the team in scoring with 17.3 points per game. He has made 14-16 from the free throw line and is shooting 47 percent from the field.

The loss to Dayton ends Murray State’s non-conference portion of the season. The Racers have struggled through a tough early season schedule, going just 3-7 against Division One opponents.

Murray State now looks ahead to the start of OVC play as west division rival Southeast Missouri visits Murray January 2 to kick off both teams’ conference schedules.

The Racers and Redhawks tip off 7 p.m. Saturday at the CFSB Center.

Staff Report

Racers edge out Purple Aces

Jenny Rohl/The News Point guard Cam Payne looks to score in the win over Evansville Wednesday.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Point guard Cam Payne looks to score in the win over Evansville Wednesday.

Head Coach Steve Prohm had a big smile on his face after his team earned its first victory of the season against a Division I opponent Wednesday night, defeating Evansville 65-63.

The Purple Aces of Evansville gave the Racers a tough fight down to the final whistle, but the struggling Murray State team righted the ship defensively and was able to hang on to a slim lead in the game’s final seconds.

“We played the way Murray State plays on defense and that gave us a chance to win,” senior guard Dexter Fields said. “We were just relentless on both ends of the floor for 40 minutes.”

The Racers got out to a hot start and built a 16-5 lead in the game’s first seven minutes. Evansville struck back with the help of the nation’s fifth leading scorer – sophomore guard D.J. Balentine.

Jeffery Moss was tasked with the job of containing Balentine for most of the night, and held the sophomore to just six first-half points.

“Jeff was locked in,” Prohm said. “He shot it well. He played with confidence and he made big plays.”

With the half winding down, Dexter Fields hit a 3 as time expired to send Murray State into the locker room with a 30-26 lead.

Evansville refused to go down quietly, however, storming back to retake the lead just two minutes into the second half.

Both teams fought tirelessly throughout the remainder of the game, exchanging leads seven times.

With the score tied at 61 with 51 seconds to play, Moss took a pass from Fields and drained a three to seal the deal.

Missed free throws by Moss and Fairell down the stretch kept it interesting until the end, but Evansville freshman Blake Simmons’ off-balance 3 missed the mark as time expired and the Racers escaped with their third victory of the season.

It’s a huge confidence booster for us,” Moss said. “We just went out and executed the game plan and played hard and we got the win.”

The 3-5 Racers now have some momentum behind them and have much to look forward to on the horizon.

Sophomore forward Zay Henderson could return Dec. 17 against Southern Illinois after fracturing his hand in a practice following the season opener at Valparaiso.

Additionally, junior guard T.J. Sapp, who is sitting out this semester after transferring from Clemson in January, is eligible to make his debut against Southern Illinois.

The addition of both players will significantly help the Racers, who have been competing with only eight scholarship players since Henderson’s injury.

The Racers now look forward to continuing the current home stand as Lipscomb visits the CFSB Center Saturday.

The Racers and Bison played a season ago in Nashville, Tenn., on Lipscomb’s home floor. The Racers were able to overcome a 5-point deficit to pull away at the end and win 88-79.

This game will mark the third meeting between the two teams.

The Racers are then off the entire week of finals before finishing the home stand with a visit from Southern Illinois.

Over Winter Break, the Racers will be hard at work. After the string of home games finishes, Murray State faces a tough road trip to Western Kentucky and Dayton to finish the nonconference portion of the season.

After the trip to Dayton, OVC play begins as Southeast Missouri State visits the CFSB Center Jan. 2 for the conference opener.

The Redhawks were picked as co-favorites with Murray State to win the western division of the conference.

From there, Murray State will take on UT Martin and Eastern Kentucky before welcoming arch-rival Austin Peay to the CFSB Center the Saturday before classes start back for the spring semester.

Prohm, however, isn’t thinking that far ahead. After an important victory over Evansville, he is excited to finally have his team seemingly back on track.

“Now they’ve got a gleam in their eyes,” Prohm said. “I told them at the end of the game that we need to prepare to win. That’s got to be our mentality.”

Murray State and Lipscomb tip off at 3 p.m. Saturday in the CFSB Center.


Story by Jonathan Ferris, Staff writer


Men fall short in season opener

November 10, 2013 Athletics, Basketball

The Racers nearly came from behind, but they took a 77-74 loss in their first game of the season at Valparaiso.

After a back-and-forth first half, Murray State faced a 7-point halftime deficit.

The Crusaders slowly started to pull away in the opening minutes of the second half until freshman Cameron Payne hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead back to single-digits.

Down by 12 with 15 minutes to play, Murray State chipped away at the lead and had more than one opportunity to tie the game.

With just under six minutes in the contest, a rebound and score by sophomore forward Tyler Rambo followed by a fast-break layup from senior guard Dexter Fields left the team down by three.

With a chance to tie the game at 71 with 2:46 to play, Payne missed a pair of free throws, then missed a jumper a minute later with the same opportunity to tie.

Murray State was out-rebounded 44-35 on the night. They shot 35 percent from the field, while Valparaiso hit 43 percent.

Payne led the scoring for the Racers with 21 points. Fields and Rambo each added 12, while junior forward Jarvis Williams earned 11.

Murray State will play again at 7 p.m. Tuesday at home against Brescia.

Staff Report

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