CHARLESTON, Ill. – It’s a recipe that is getting to be foul tasting for the rest of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Suffocating defense and a balanced scoring attack are allowing Murray State to manhandled the rest of the conference.
It continued Thursday as MSU moved to 17-3 overall and a perfect 9-0 in league play with a 60-51 victory over Eastern Illinois at Lantz Gym.
Not that Thursday’s win was a tasty win – but it was a win that keeps the Racers hungry as they move through the second half of league play.
“I thought it was a good win,” Racer coach Billy Kennedy said. “Anytime you win on the road it’s good. Eastern Illinois is very good here. They only lost three league games here last year.
It was a good win on the road and our defense carried us.”
MSU held EIU to 37 percent from the floor and a dismal 1 of 7 from 3-point range. Jeremy Granger led EIU with 23 points but Tyler Laser, EIU’s top scorer at 14.4 points per game, was held to just five points – on five shots.
“That’s why we won. We were able to keep him from having bigger numbers,” Kennedy said. “And we shot the ball well from the free throw line.”
Eastern Illinois has now dropped four in row after starting out 4-1 in the OVC. The Panthers are now 10-9 and 4-5 in league play.
“Our guys are frustrated and disappointed,” Panther coach Mike Miller said. “I think you can find somethings that our positive. We worked on our rebounding all week and we outrebounded them. You’re playing a team that is dominating this league and we held them 20 points under their average.”
Indeed, Murray couldn’t get many fast breaks buckets as EIU slowed down transition scores. MSU had just four fast break points.
Ivan Aska and Tony Easley led the Racers with 10 points each, while Danero Thomas had nine points for MSU – his best performance since he scored 14 against UT-Marton on January 4.
“We didn’t get that many stops,” Thomas said. “We picked it up in the second half and we able to get some stops. We didn’t get transition baskets. That’s our game. We didn’t do that in the first half – we did it better in the second half.”
Murray State now turns its attention to Southeast Missouri, who scored a 77-63 victory over Tennessee-Martin on Thursday. The Red Hawks are 3-5 in league play after not winning a conference game last year.
“This is their big game of the year. They’ll be excited to play us,” Kennedy said. “They’ll have a chance to beat somebody they are not supposed to beat. We just have to match their intensity. If we have good intensity – I think will be in good shape.”