Eastern Illinois entertains No. 20 Murray State

Dec 30, 2011 - 3:42 PM Charleston, IL (Sports Network) - The 20th-ranked Murray State Racers have traveled to Charleston for an Ohio Valley Conference matchup with the Eastern Illinois Panthers.

Murray State is off to its best start in 75 years at 13-0, providing plenty of confidence for a team in search of its third straight OVC title. The Racers have been idle since December 21 when they opened league play with a 78-54 romp over UT-Martin. Most of the team's wins this season have come against lackluster competition, but a triumph over Memphis on the road stands out as a significant victory.

As for Eastern Illinois, it owns a 5-0 home record and doesn't figure to be intimidated by the Racers. The Panthers, who are 6-5 overall, are currently in the midst of a three-game skid, and the most recent defeat came to Maine on the road by a 64-60 final nine days ago.

Murray State owns a commanding 34-8 series advantage over Eastern Illinois, which includes a 66-53 victory over the Panthers in the most recent meeting last season.

Isaiah Canaan is the top performer for Murray State so far this season, as he is shooting 50 percent from the field and averaging 18.6 ppg to go along with over four assists per tilt. Donte Poole provides 13.1 ppg, while Ivan Aska checks in with 12.9 ppg. The Racers, who have employed the same starting lineup in all 13 outings, are netting 75.3 ppg while holding opponents to 60.4 ppg. Poole scored 15 points against UT-Martin last time out, and Aska added 12 points in that affair. Canaan was held to 10 points, but the team didn't need a big effort from the standout forward. The Racers connected on a staggering 68.3 percent of their field goal attempts while holding the Skyhawks to 33.9 percent shooting. The only negative for Murray State was 24 turnovers.

Jeremy Granger has been key to the winning record put forth by Eastern Illinois so far this season, as he is scoring 17.4 ppg to go along with 4.5 apg. There is only one other double-digit scorer on the roster, as Alfonzo McKinnie checks in with 11.5 ppg on 57.8 percent shooting from the field. He is grabbing 7.6 rpg and has started every game to date. The Panthers are generating 73.4 ppg, slightly better than the 71.7 ppg that they are surrendering. Against Maine in the recent loss, McKinnie scored 20 points while Granger added 15. Unfortunately, those two standouts got little help from a modest supporting cast that shot 11-of-31 from the field and combined for a mere 25 points.

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