Golden Eagles hope to knock Racers out of OVC Tournament

Mar 2, 2012 - 3:59 PM Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - The 12th-ranked Murray State Racers are set to begin their postseason tonight as they square off with the fourth-seeded Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles in the semifinal round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament at Municipal Auditorium.

The top-seeded Racers will be looking to defeat TTU for the third time this season as their 69-64 victory in the regular season finale for both teams six days ago sealed a sweep in this year's season series with the Golden Eagles, winning both contests by an average of 6.5 ppg. Murray State will be seeking revenge, as it was knocked out of last year's OVC Tournament by TTU in the semifinal round.

The Golden Eagles began their quest for their first league title since 1967 with a 77-73 victory over the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks on Thursday. TTU managed to escape their quarterfinal round bout with the Redhawks despite losing the rebounding battle 33-24 to the Redhawks. The Golden Eagles shot 58 percent from the field as they recovered to advance after blowing a 17-point lead in the second half. Head coach Steve Payne has an up-tempo coaching style, which has helped TTU surpass 70 points in three of its last four games.

The OVC's leading scorer Kevin Murphy inched closer to the 2,000-point career plateau by netting 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting in Thursday night's victory over Southeast Missouri State. The senior guard is now 16 points away after he his recent outburst in which he averaged 23.7 ppg in his last three outings. Zac Swansey played the role of hero in the quarterfinals, as his clutch three- pointer broke a 70-70 tie with 21 seconds left and buried the Redhawks. Swansey also dished out 12 assists during the contest while Jud Dillard added 18 points and nine rebounds.

Head coach Steve Prohm led his Racers to a first-place finish and double bye in this year's OVC Tournament by leading them to one of the most impressive seasons of any team in the nation. Murray State is the only team in the nation besides the top ranked Kentucky Wildcats and No. 2 Syracuse Orange with just a single loss. Murray State defeated every opponent it faced as it avenged its loss to Tennessee State. Prohm was named the OVC Coach of the Year, in just his rookie year as a head coach, as he broke conference and program records while leading MSU into the national rankings. The Racers have been phenomenal at both ends of the court, ranking first in the OVC in both field goal percentage (.478) and field goal percentage defense (.421).

Isaiah Canaan has had a remarkable year leading Murray State. Canaan is second in the OVC in scoring with an average of 19.4 ppg and recently was named the 2012 OVC Player of the Year. Jewuan was named the leagues Defensive Player of the Year after his season-long performance as a lockdown defender. Donte Poole and Ivan Aska have been vital members of the supporting cast along the way. Poole is second on the squad with 13.9 ppg, while Aska is averaging 11.4 points and a team-high 5.8 boards per contest.

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