Saturday, February 18, 2012
Rapid Reax: Murray St. 65, Saint Mary's 51
By Jason King
MURRAY, Ky. -- A few quick thoughts from No. 14 Murray State's 65-51 victory over No. 16 Saint Mary's at a rocking CFSB Center:
Overview: In the marquee matchup of BracketBusters -- just the fourth ever involving two ranked teams -- Murray State cruised past Saint Mary's, as the Racers led by nine at the half and kept the lead in double digits for most of the second half. The Racers improved to 26-1 on the season and certainly solidified -- if not all-out clinched -- their at-large chances in case they don't win the Ohio Valley tournament.
Saint Mary's, meanwhile, was once considered a tourney lock at 22-2 but has now lost three of its past four and has not looked good doing so, losing all three games by double figures. Not having Stephen Holt for this one and Matthew Dellavedova at less than 100 percent didn't help today, but clearly the Gaels are faltering at the wrong time of the season.
Star of the night: No surprise here. Isaiah Canaan has been a star all season and he was again Saturday, delivering 23 points (17 in the second half) on 9-of-13 shooting and hitting 5 of 8 from long range. He also dished out 4 assists.
Key stats: The Racers shot 53 percent from 3 (9-of-17), while the Gaels countered at just 14 percent (2-of-14). That 21-point difference in a 14-point game was certainly huge. So was Murray's plus-8 advantage on the boards and its 20 points off turnovers. Another key: holding SMC star Rob Jones to 4 points (2-of-8 FG) and 3 rebounds. He came in averaging 15.3 points and 10.8 boards.
What's next: Murray State will look to avenge its only loss of the season when it travels to Tennessee State on Thursday, while Saint Mary's seeks to get back on track on that same night with a road game at struggling Portland.