So what are we supposed to think of No. 7 Murray St. after their 72-68 home loss to Tennessee State?
The Racers came out on fire this season to the tune of a 23-0 start. A hot debate was if Murray State deserved a No. 1 seed if they could finish the season undefeated.
Instead, they turned the ball over three times in the final 11 seconds in their only loss. The team is now surrounded by major question marks as the NCAA tournament inches closer.
The Racers wouldn’t have even been in the game if it wasn’t for Isaiah Canaan. In 36 minutes the junior scored 31 points and grabbed six rebounds. He was a blistering 10-of-13 from the floor including 7-of-10 from three-point range.
The rest of the team shot 13-of-37.
Robert Covington finished with 17 for the Tigers and Kenny Moore came off the bench to add 16 points and four steals.
With 11 seconds to go and down by one, the Racers threw the inbounds pass to the Tigers only to have Tennessee State brick two free throws.
With new life, Canaan quickly dribbled the length of the court only to lose the ball and quickly foul. After two makes, the Racers were down three with three seconds on the clock. A full court heave was intercepted and the game was all but over.
Despite the setback you’d assume the Racers would still be in a prime position to make the tournament right?
If they lose at home to St. Mary’s next weekend and then in the OVC conference tournament, they’ll be sweating out selection Sunday with the rest of the bubble teams.
The loss could be seen coming as they had narrowly escaped four of their last six opponents in conference play. The big issue has been the lack of consistent rebounding.
They are ranked 219th in the nation (33.9) and their leading rebounder is a 6’7" forward named Ivan Aska who averages 5.9 per game. Their tallest player, Brandon Garrett, barely plays 13 minutes a night.
It’s a huge issue (bad pun) and one that is going to show up in full force during the tournament. You think Jared Sullinger or John Henson is afraid of the Racers?
It’s been a great season for Murray State and the potential for them to do some damage in the tournament is still there. But let’s pump the brakes on assuming this is the Cinderella team to shock everybody.
If nothing else, they can always say they were the last team in D-1 college basketball to lose during the 2011-2012 season.