Monday, June 25, 2012

My Top Five Games from the Racers Season (MBB)

Basketball arenas may have shut down for the summer but I still itch and think about basketball season. So, I decided to take a break from the heat and recall the good ole days of last year’s memorable basketball season at Murray State. 

Not everybody knew who or where Murray State was last year. They just didn't know who we were. Then, the team got media attention and a lot of it. They deserved it. The Racers were the last unbeaten team as they started the season out 23-0. They finished the season with a 31-2 record. There only losses this past season were to Tennessee State and Marquette.

I picked five games that stood out to me during Murray State’s memorable run.

5. Murray State 81 Southeast Missouri State 72

The crowd packed the CFSB Center and watched the Racers improved their record to 22-0. It wasn’t easy. Many Racer fans though the undefeated dream was over at halftime. The Racers trailed at halftime and still trailed 46-35 with 17:22 left to go in the game.

Then it was time for the Red Hawks to pack their bags and head to the Mississippi River so they could go home. The Racers went on a 24-2 run with Canaan hitting four three-pointers during that run. I had never heard the CFSB Center that loud. It was electrifying. You would have thought the student section was going to fall through the stands. Luckily nothing like that happened and Racer Nation celebrated a big win.

4. Murray State 66 Morehead State 60
The Racers took a trip to the mountains of Appalachia to face the Eagles of Morehead State. It wasn’t as easy as Racer Nation thought it was going to be. With Morehead not having Kenneth Faried, the Eagles didn’t have the talent nor the experience of last year when they beat U of L in the NCAA Tournament.

Morehead was prepared and gave the Racers all they could handle. The Racers trailed by nine with just under 13 minutes left to play. Donte Poole and Canaan took over. They fought back and took the lead on a 26-foot three-pointer from Canaan with 3:57 left.

3. Murray State 76 Memphis 72
This is when the talks of an undefeated season began. Murray State was 9-0 and many thought that 21st ranked Memphis would hand the Racers their first loss. Wrong. The Racers led most of the game and shocked the Tigers. Murray State was dominant. You would have thought the Racers were the ones that lost John Calipari three years ago not Memphis. 34 total fast break points. 38 combined points off turnovers. Four lead changes.That offense reminds me of a Coach Cal offense.

The Memphis commentators thought differently. They thought the refs gave Murray State the win as they complained and complained about the officiating. But, when you see that three stat line, it was dominance not the officiating. But, Memphis always was within reach during the game even though the stat line might say otherwise.

Memphis had some control going into halftime. Then, Senior Donte Poole took over. Poole scored 14 of his 20 points after halftime. The Racers would feed off that momentum and took a 63-51 lead with 8:37 left. Memphis cut the lead to one point with 14 seconds remaining. But, it was too late. The Racers hit three free throws in the remaining 14 seconds to seal the deal. Everybody around Racer Nation knew the Racers were for real.

2. Murray State 54 Tennessee State 52

Bubble teams were on suicide alert as it looked like Tennessee State was going to steal an automatic bid from Murray State in the OVC Championship game. At this time, Tennessee State was the only team to have beaten the Racers at this point. With five minutes left Tennessee State lead 50-43. I was there in Nashville and thought we had lost at this point. This out of control Tennessee State fan sat right in front of me screaming and bragging and told us to go home as losers.

Not so fast grasshopper. The game isn’t over until the fat lady sings. Keep on bragging. Several key plays won the game for Murray State, Poole saved a bad pass by diving across half court and then hit a 3-pointer on the same possession. He gave the Racers the ball again by taking a charge on the opposite end and scored to pull the Racers to within two. TSU would score the following possession.

Trailing by four, Ivan Aska's field goal with 1:50 brought it to a one-possession game, and Ed Daniel sunk a pair of free throws to bring the game to a 52-52 tie. Looking to score on its final possession, TSU came up empty, throwing the ball through the backcourt and out of bounds on the Murray State baseline.

I was going nuts at this point. But, we weren’t winning yet. However, the out of control Tennessee State fan wasn’t so happy anymore. He sat down and kept his mouth shut. That was a good thing. On the next possession Jewuan Long hit a baseline jumper to put the Racers ahead by two. TSU had a chance to tie or win but failed. 

We were going dancing and the fun times began in Downtown Nashville. That Tennessee State fan was crying. I could have rubbed it in like a fool but I didn’t as I’m a classy Racer. Needless to say I was a happy camper as I drove back to Murray that afternoon.

1. Murray State 65 St. Mary’s 51
This game was arguably the most anticipated game in school history. Dick Vitale was coming to the small town of Murray, Kentucky to call a game. Campus was wild all week. A group of students tailgated outside the CFSB Center the night before the game. The question was would it all be wasted if St. Mary’s smoked Murray State at home in from of Dick Vitale and a national audience watching on ESPN? None of those questions had to be answered. Murray State ran St. Mary’s out of the building.

St. Mary’s never lead and the Racers started the game with a 10-2 run. The Gaels kept it fairly close and never allowed the Racers to jump ahead by double-digits in the first half. But, the Gaels best chance for a lead happened when they trailed 20-17 in the first half. The Racers led 34-25 at halftime. 

That quickly changed in the second half as Canaan and company jumped out to a 52-35 lead with 11:28 left. The Racers weren’t done yet as they were able to extend the lead to 19 at one point.

The game proved to the nation that Racer basketball was for real. If you can win on the biggest stage you know you’re good. With all the commotion we can’t forget that it was senior night and the last home game of the season. 

What a way to end the home campaign. I don’t think that the top game of the season is debatable. Not when Dick Vitale comes to Murray State University. I’ll never forget about this game as long as I live. It was an emotional time for me; it was my last home game as a Murray State student.

This past season was a fun season and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Sadly, I won’t be able to make it to most games this season as I’m a journalist residing in Paducah, Kentucky. However, if somebody gave me the opportunity to cover the Racers this upcoming season, I would run with it as I think it will be just as special. Maybe we have a Sweet 16 run in us.


  1. "Not so fast grasshopper" ----haha

  2. Haha that was classic Conor.

    Really good many good memories.

  3. I was in the video too

  4. You do know Paducah is only 40 min from Murray and that's from the west side of town.

  5. I know I'm only 40 miles away but I have a paying job to worry about. Gotta pay the bills although I hope to eventually become a sports journalist at some point.