Panthers come to Murray seeking upset of 11th-ranked Racers

Jan 28, 2012 - 3:59 PM Murray, KY (Sports Network) - The 11th-ranked Murray State Racers continue the greatest season in school history when they entertain Ohio Valley Conference foe Eastern Illinois tonight at CFSB Arena in Kentucky.

Eastern Illinois is hoping to break out of a four-game slump, as the team currently sits a game below .500 on the year (9-10), and three games below in OVC action (2-5). The Panthers, who dropped a 63-45 decision at Jacksonville State on Thursday night, are facing a ranked team for the 17th time in their history, and they are 0-16 in previous encounters, including 0-13 on the road.

Murray State is the only undefeated team left in Division I, coming into this clash at 20-0, 8-0 in conference. The Racers have not only won every game this season, but they have done so by an average of 14.5 ppg. While dominating the OVC might not resonate with the casual fan, beating the likes of Southern Miss, Dayton and Memphis at least gives the team what many would consider a few quality wins.

Murray State owns a commanding 35-10 lead in the all-time series with Eastern Illinois, and the Racers won the first meeting between the two this season -- 73-40 back on December 30. EIU is however, the last team to beat the Racers on their home floor, doing so in a 61-60 final last season.

Eastern Illinois boasts three double-digit scorers in the form of Jeremy Granger (16.0 ppg, 3.8 apg), Alfonzo McKinnie (11.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and Joey Miller (10.1 ppg, 2.8 apg). Unfortunately, no other player averages more than 7.8 ppg, and the majority of them net fewer than six ppg. That leaves the team with a scoring average of 67.9 ppg, and it does so on 43.8 percent field goal efficiency, which includes a 32.7 percent showing from three-point range. Defensively, the Panthers permit 69.1 ppg on typical shooting outputs of 45.0 percent overall and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc. EIU is dead even in terms of rebounding margin, and almost the same in turnover differential. The Panthers were absolutely dreadful in their recent loss to Jacksonville State, hitting a paltry 32.7 percent of their total shots, missing all four of their three-point tries along the way. McKinne was the only player to score in double figures, turning in a double-double performance consisting of 14 points and 11 rebounds.

With a record as impressive as that the Racers possess, it's no surprise that just about everything the team does, it does well. Currently, there are three double-digit scorers in the fold, led by Isaiah Canaan with his 18.7 ppg. A 47.2 percent sniper from three-point land, Canaan also adds 4.0 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game to his average stat line, which helps the team net 75.6 ppg on 47.5 percent field goal accuracy, which includes a stellar 41.8 percent showing from downtown -- that latter figure ranking the team fourth in the country. Donte Poole (14.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and Ivan Aska (12.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg) round out the offensive-minded trio for Murray State, which also plays pretty solid defense in yielding just 61.0 ppg behind shooting efforts that hover around 42 percent overall and 28 percent from long range. The Racers have also proven to be an opportunistic bunch, as they goad the opposition into 17.5 turnovers per outing. Canaan hit for 21 points, Jewuan Long added 17, Poole 14 and Ed Daniel 10 in the Racers' 82-65 win over SIU-Edwardsville last Saturday. The key stat in the game saw Murray State score 32 points off SIUE's 21 turnovers.

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