Tag:Murray State
Posted on: March 3, 2012 4:39 pm

Tiny Dancers: Murray State

Bubble teams everywhere rejoiced on Saturday afternoon, as Murray State came from behind in the second half to beat Tennessee State in the Ohio Valley championship game. With the Racers already set for an at-large slot if they lost, the win prevented the OVC from getting two bids.

Murray State lost only one game all season, a close game to Tennessee State in early February. The Racers started 23-0 and were the last team to lose in college basketball this year. They are very efficient at both ends of the floor, with the ability to score in different ways offensively and also forcing turnovers and contesting shots at the other end.

Despite their gaudy record, there are some people who don’t believe in Murray State’s NCAA tournament potential. However, with multiple scoring options and an All-American in Isaiah Canaan, it’s tough to count them out in any game. First-year head coach Steve Prohm has done a tremendous job since taking over the program, and is a candidate for Coach of the Year.

Player to know: Isaiah Canaan. The explosive scoring guard is an All-American and capable of carrying the Racers on the offensive end. He’s difficult to stop due to his ability to drive and his deep range. Canaan is averaging better than 19 points per game and shooting 48.2 percent on 3-pointers.

The Vitals:

  • Record: 27-1 overall, 15-1 in Ohio Valley
  • Most recent tournament appearance: 2010, No. 13 seed, beat Vanderbilt 66-65 in the first round, followed by a 54-52 loss to Butler in the second round.
  • We’re thinking: 5
  • KenPom ranking: 47
  • Sagarin ranking: 41
  • RPI: 24
  • Best wins: Memphis, Saint Mary’s
  • Worst losses: Tennessee State
  • Notable stat: Murray State is one of the best shooting teams in the country, knocking down 41.4 of its long-range attempts.

-- Jeff Borzello

Posted on: March 3, 2012 10:36 am
Edited on: March 3, 2012 10:36 am

Championship game preview: Ohio Valley

Heading into the Ohio Valley tournament, everyone wanted to see two games: Tennessee Tech against Murray State in the semifinals for a third time, and a rubber match between Murray State and Tennessee State in the championship.

We got the first one on Friday night, when Murray State dominated Tennessee Tech in the second half en route to a 20-point win. We’ll get the second one on Saturday afternoon, as the only team to beat the Racers this season gets another crack at them.

Tennessee State beat Murray State back on February 9, but lost the rematch by 18 on its home court. The Tigers advanced to the title game by beating Morehead State in the semifinals, 59-52.

The key for Tennessee State will be forcing turnovers and limiting Murray State’s trips to the free-throw line. The Racers love to attack the rim and get easy opportunities at the charity stripe. On the other side, the Tigers have to take care of the ball and grab offensive rebounds for second chances. In the first meeting, Tennessee State had 15 steals; in the second one, just three.

If Murray State doesn’t win, it will still get an at-large bid, so bubble teams will be rooting for the Racers to hold serve in Nashville.

-- Jeff Borzello

Posted on: February 27, 2012 1:01 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 5:06 pm

What-to-know conference previews: Ohio Valley

Murray State has dominated the Ohio Valley discussion all season, rolling into February as the lone undefeated team in the country before dropping one to Tennessee State. How heavy of favorites are the Racers in the conference tournament?

Murray State is clearly the No. 1 team in the league heading into the tournament. The Racers lost just one game all season, to Tennessee State back on February 9. They bounced back to win their final five games, including three games and a home contest vs. Saint Mary’s. Guard Isaiah Canaan is one of the best players in the country, while Donte Poole and a healthy Ivan Aska are quality secondary options. The way to beat Murray State is to get offensive rebounds and force turnovers.

Tennessee State carried that Murray State win to a second-place finish, winning nine in a row before the season finale defeat at home to Murray State. Robert Covington is a dominant inside player, and the Tigers love getting easy opportunities from the free-throw line. They get a bye to the semifinals, along with Murray. 

Outside of Murray, Tennessee Tech might have the most talent in the conference. The Golden Eagles have two of the league’s best players in Kevin Murphy and Jud Dillard, who combined to average 38.6 points and 14.2 rebounds during the regular season. Throw in Zac Swansey and a couple of close losses to Murray, and they could be a sleeper. Don’t overlook Jacksonville State, either. The Gamecocks have won eight of 11 and play tough defense.


Title game:
Saturday, March 3 on ESPN2 (2 p.m., ET)


  1. Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
  2. Kevin Murphy, Tennessee Tech
  3. Robert Covington, Tennessee State
  4. Jud Dillard, Tennessee Tech
  5. Donte Poole, Murray State

Conference RPI: 21

KenPom.com rating: 24

Sagarin rating: 22

NCAA Tournament Locks: Murray State

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None 

Last NCAA Tournament Appearances

  • Austin Peay Governors: 2008, No. 15 seed, lost to Texas 74-54 in the first round.
  • Eastern Kentucky Colonels: 2007, No. 16 seed, lost to North Carolina 86-65 in the first round.
  • Jacksonville State Gamecocks: N/A.
  • Morehead State Eagles: 2011, No. 13 seed, beat Louisville 62-61 in the first round, followed by a 65-48 loss to Richmond in the second round.
  • Murray State Racers: 2010, No. 13 seed, beat Vanderbilt 66-65 in the first round, followed by a 54-52 loss to Butler in the second round.
  • Southeast Missouri State Redhawks: 2000, No. 13 seed, lost to LSU 64-61 in the first round.
  • Tennessee State Tigers: 1994, No. 14 seed, lost to Kentucky 83-70 in the first round.
  • Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles: 1963, lost to Loyola-Chicago 111-42 in the first round.

- Jeff Borzello

Posted on: February 17, 2012 12:00 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 12:07 pm

Saint Mary's could be without Delly at Murray St.

Saint Mary's guard Matthew Dellavedova (ankle) will be a game-time decision against Murray State. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Goodman

You know that huge matchup we were all excited about between Saint Mary's and Murray State. It's turned out to potentially be a yawner like most of the other BracketBusters. 

Murray State is no longer undefeated, but this was still supposed be a measuring stick for a Racers team that remains somewhat of a mystery. But now the Gaels limp into the CFSB Center in Murray without starting guard Stephen Holt and potentially without star guard Matthew Dellavedova. 

Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett told CBSSports.com that Dellavedova, the team's top player, will be a game-time decision with an ankle injury, and as of now it looks "doubtful." Holt, one of the team's most complete players, is out for the next couple weeks after suffering a partially torn MCL. 

Saint Mary's comes to Murray on a two-game losing streak following a 11-0 start in WCC play. There was the setback at Gonzaga, which wasn't much of a surprise, but then came a home loss to Loyola Marymount. The Racers are 25-1 with the lone loss coming earlier this month at home against Tennessee State. 

When this matchup was announced, it was the heavyweight bout for the BracketBusters. The WCC's elite team and one on the verge of cracking the Top 10 against the nation's last remaining team without a loss. 

The Gaels are struggling, No. 16 Murray State is no longer unbeaten and we may not even have the stellar point guard matchup between Racers guard Isaiah Canaan and Delly. 

However, it's still an important game for both teams -- maybe more so for host Murray. The Racers will need to win this one, especially if Dellavedova doesn't play. Despite its lofty ranking, Canaan & Co. can ill-afford a slip-up here with road contests against Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech to close out the regular-season. 

A couple more losses, in addition to coming up short in the Ohio Valley tournament, could mean sweating it out on Selection Sunday. 

Posted on: February 13, 2012 4:34 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 4:42 pm

The Poll Attacks: Not ranking Wisconsin is dumb

By Gary Parrish

The Poll Attacks are now taking reader requests.

Read and see.

Let's go.

Associated Press poll: I was gonna spend this space Poll Attacking anybody who voted for Creighton because the Bluejays shouldn't be on anybody's ballot, plain and simple. Plus, I warned voters Saturday against ranking Creighton. And I hate it when people don't listen to me. So I sat down at this computer ready to tear apart the eight voters who voted for Creighton. But then I got a Tweet from a reader.
@GaryParrishCBS Pete Gilbert needs a good poll attacking. Wisconsin unranked, Murray St. left in the top 10.
Needless to say, I shifted gears.

What the F, Pete Gilbert?

How can anybody not have Wisconsin ranked?

The Badgers are 19-6 overall, 8-4 in the Big Ten, and they've won seven of their past eight with the lone loss coming by single-digits to No. 6 Ohio State. Five of their six overall losses are to teams that are currently ranked. The Badgers are top five at KenPom.com, top 25 at CollegeRPI.com, No. 11 in our Top 25 (and one) and on 64 of the 65 AP ballots. In other words, pretty much everybody (and every computer) in this world thinks Wisconsin belongs in the top 25 ... except Pete Gilbert, who omitted the Badgers but put Murray State in the top 10.

Now I don't wanna spend too much time on Murray State.

I'm going there this weekend.

I wanna be loved.

But I will point out that the Racers have zero wins over currently ranked teams and a home loss to Tennessee State, which is ranked 141st at CollegeRPI.com and 184th at KenPom.com. Murray State is good, no question. But top-10 good? That's a stretch. And at least 15 spots better than Wisconsin? That's a bigger stretch.

So get it together, Pete.

Let's not do this again next Monday.

Coaches poll: And now to Creighton ...

Because the same Bluejays who got 20 points in the AP poll got 30 points in the coaches poll, meaning the coaches are 50 percent sillier than the writers, which sounds about right, actually. For those who haven't been keeping track, Creighton stopped making shots a little more than a week ago and began what is now a three-game losing streak. So Greg McDermott's team is 21-5 with two wins over top 25 teams and four losses to teams that are currently unranked. They're probably gonna lose their league by two games. They're not headed the right direction. Bottom line, there was a time and place to be ranking Creighton. But now is not that time. And here is not that place. So let's let the Bluejays start shooting better than 30 percent from 3-point range again before we start considering them for top 25 ballots again. Deal?
Posted on: February 10, 2012 11:30 am

Podcast: Rivers, 'Bazz and the weekend ahead

San Diego State could realistically cement itself into a four or five seed if it beats UNLV this weekend. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Matt Norlander

Murray State. Duke. Rivers. The big games this weekend. Substitute teachers. Pickup basketball. The best recruits waiting the longest to commit to schools. It's all on today's podcast.

Oh, and Borzello's my guest. Sorry about that. Had to inject some "flo" back into the proceedings. 
On the docket:
  • From the beginning: Some jibbing and jabbing before the hoops.
  • 2:50: We get right to the Murray State talk. What seed are they now? How many games can this team afford to lose?
  • 9:35: Duke and Carolina and Austin Rivers. Why that amazing ending doesn't change things for Duke and why UNC is now questionable as a one seed.
  • 15:50: Top 10 freshmen are who? At this point in the year it's fair to say who's the biggest surprise and the biggest disappointment.
  • 19:48: The games this weekend. Let's chat about the ones that stick out to us. A good dozen games are touched upon. Lots and lots of good hoop Saturday and Sunday. Can't wait to be ensconced in it.
  • 31:52: Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 1 2012 recruit, recently said he'll wait until at least April to announce where he's going. UCLA and Kentucky are in the lead. I don't think he's good enough to make coaches wait into May, but Borzello brings up a good point why he's bound to.

Again, I thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast--whenever you can. I ask that you, if you like what we're doing here, encourage like-minded hoopheads to subscribe in Tunes as well. Guests like Jay Bilas, Seth Davis, they're the guys who make me sound better and make the podcast worthwhile. The other guys? Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman, they really make it entertaining, and of course you can count on our trio show each Wednesday. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:54 pm

Coach who slayed Murray State speaks

John Cooper's Tennessee State team got one of the biggest wins in program history tonight. (AP)
By Matt Norlander

The last time Tennessee State beat Murray State at Murray State in regulation was the 1995-96 season. That was also the last season the Tigers finished a campaign with a winning record (15-13).

Thursday night, Tennessee State not only got that ever-elusive W at Murray State, in regulation, after a 16-year wait, but the Tigers also ensured themselves of an above-.500 record. I was able to speak with TSU third-year coach John Cooper after the game. He talked and walked from the CFSB Center to the bus.

Once he got on the bus, I could tell immediately. It was quite joyous in the background, you see (as I heard). I suspect that two-hour ride from Murray, Ky., to Nashville, Tenn., didn’t dip much in volume or enthusiasm.

This could very well be the win that defines 16-10 Tennessee State’s season. Only one team every year gets the unique delight and reward of playing spoiler to the sport’s final unbeaten. Unlikely as it was, Tennessee State smashed Murray State’s undefeated hopes Thursday night with the 72-68 outcome.

Cooper said his guys didn’t need calming down. They weren’t anxious in timeout huddles and there was no need to stress about the situation at halftime, when Murray State led 40-33. The Tigers trailed most of the second half, too. That was a “benefit,” according to Cooper, who didn’t do anything outside of the ordinary in terms of prep for this game.

Same type of scouting, same type of practice, all of it to the familiar beat Cooper and his coaches have used and helped earn the team a season-best six-game winning streak.

“I’m not one of those guys where we go and do a bunch of different things. This group simply does better by staying true to what we do,” he said. Murray State star Isaiah Canaan, who had his fourth game of more than 30 points (31) got his despite State doing its best to contain him.

“We tried to guard him well and he shot the tar out of the basketball,” Cooper said. “The goal was not to let him get his and stop everyone else.”

Somewhat surprisingly, Canaan got most of his and yet Murray State couldn’t get a home win in conference. Normally, a league’s best team getting a huge performance from the league’s best player doesn’t end in an L.

Cooper was pretty measured after what is fair to call the biggest win of his young career. He took over this team in 2009 and soon found himself with only four scholarship players thanks to the exodus of transfers that can come with a program like Tennessee State losing a head coach (Cy Alexander).

“Quite frankly, we haven’t had a lot of success in recent history with our basketball program,” Cooper said. “You don’t just jump right up and beat the big boys.”

It took him six tries, but he finally got Murray State, which is the class of the Ohio Valley — the Duke or Syracuse or UCLA of that league. He's proud. I let him talk for a few minutes after asking a general question about the program. If this sounds like he's letting off steam, he wasn't. I think Cooper was affirming aloud to himself how big the win was and how long it had been since the program was so surely moving in a good direction.

“This hasn’t happened in our program in a long time. It’s just one win, though,” Cooper said. “No one has ever, once, said anything about us. I’m not knocking the media, but no one was saying anything about us, even when they (Murray State) played SEMO (Southeast Missouri State), and that’s fine. We don’t go about that like we have a chip on our shoulder. We’ve got to prove it, and rightfully so. To win like this, it’s really hard to do this.”

Hard, sure, but also a lot of fun. The party on that bus proves it.

Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:14 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 11:19 pm

Being last to lose not all it's cracked up to be

The last team to finish a season undefeated: Indiana, 1975-76. (Getty Images)

The following is a list of the last team to lose each season since the Indiana Hoosiers finished undefeated during the 1975-76 season.

Two teams -- Indiana State (1978-79) and UNLV (1990-91) -- finished the regular season unbeaten before suffering the first loss in the NCAA tournament.

Only four teams on the list went on the claim the national title.

Season Team Date of first loss Final record Postseason
11-12 Murray State 2/9 TBD TBD
10-11 Ohio State 2/12 32-2 lost regional semifinals
09-10 Kentucky 1/26 35-3 lost regional finals
08-09 Wake Forest 1/21 24-7 lost first round
07-08 Memphis 2/23 38-2 lost championship game
06-07 Clemson 1/9 25-11 lost NIT championship game
05-06 Duke 1/21 32-4 lost regional semifinals
05-06 Florida 1/21 33-6 NCAA champion
05-06 Pittsburgh 1/21 25-8 lost second round
04-05 Illinois 3/6 37-2 lost championship game
03-04 St. Joseph’s 3/11 30-2 lost regional finals
02-03 Duke 1/18 26-7 lost regional semifinals
01-02 Duke 1/6 31-4 lost regional semifinals
00-01 Stanford 2/3 31-3 lost regional finals
99-00 Syracuse 2/7 26-6 lost regional semifinals
98-99 Connecticut 2/1 34-2 NCAA champion
97-98 Utah 2/1 30-4 lost championship game
96-97 Kansas 2/4 34-2 lost regional semifinals
95-96 Massachusetts 2/24 31-1 lost national semis
94-95 Connecticut 1/28 28-5 lost regional finals
93-94 UCLA 1/30 21-7 lost first round
92-93 Virginia 1/20 21-10 lost regional semifinals
91-92 Duke 2/5 34-2 NCAA champion
91-92 Oklahoma State 2/5 28-8 lost regional semifinals
90-91 UNLV 3/30 34-1 lost championship game
89-90 Georgetown 1/20 24-7 lost second round
89-90 Kansas 1/20 30-5 lost second round
88-89 Illinois 1/26 31-5 lost national semis
87-88 BYU 2/6 26-6 lost second round
86-87 DePaul 1/25 26-2 lost regional semifinals
85-86 Memphis 2/7 27-5 lost second round
84-85 Georgetown 1/26 35-3 lost championship game
83-84 North Carolina 2/12 28-3 lost second round
82-83 UNLV 2/24 28-3 lost second round
81-82 Missouri 2/6 27-4 lost regional semifinals
80-81 Oregon State 3/7 26-1 lost second round
79-80 DePaul 2/27 26-2 lost second round
78-79 Indiana State 3/26 33-1 lost championship game
77-78 Kentucky 1/23 30-2 NCAA champion
76-77 San Francisco 3/5 29-2 lost first round

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Murray State
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