LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Quick thoughts from No. 6 seed Murray State's 58-41 win over No. 11 Colorado State in the second round of the West Regional.
Overview: Murray State's special season just got a little sweeter. The Racers improved to 31-1 on the year and notched the third NCAA tournament victory in school history.
A sluggish start led to a 24-23 deficit, as Colorado State got the tempo it wanted early. But in the second half, Murray State used its superior quickness to force the issue on both ends. That led to several steals and easy buckets, while the Rams struggled to find open looks. The final score would have been more lopsided if the Racers hadn't gone 13-of-26 from the free throw line.
Turning point: Murray State looked a little awestruck and out of sorts at the beginning of the game. But it opened up the second half with far more energy, reeling off an 18-2 run in the first nine minutes of the half to build a 41-26 lead. After scoring no fast-break points the entire first half, a quick steal and dunk by star Isaiah Canaan early in the second half helped ignite the back-breaking run.
Key player: Canaan (4-of-13) suffered through an off shooting day and even air-balled a wide-open 3-pointer. But he still led the team in scoring with 15 points while adding seven rebounds and two assists. The Rams sagged off him defensively early on with some success; Canaan got going when he started moving without the ball and being more aggressive on drives into the paint.
Key stat: Colorado State committed 21 turnovers, which Murray State converted into 20 points. Most of those came in the second half. The Rams missed all seven of their 3-point tries in the second half and went nearly seven minutes without scoring at one point.
Miscellaneous: The KFC Yum! Center was heavily pro-Racers, whose campus is just a few hours southwest of Louisville. Murray State fans filled much of the lower bowl of the arena, while the Kentucky fans on hand lent their support as well. ... Murray State guard Donte Poole got a bloody nose when he took an inadvertent elbow from Colorado State's Wes Eikmeier early in the second half. He was attended to by the training staff for several minutes but would return. ... This is the third straight year an Ohio Valley Conference team has won a game in the NCAA tournament. ... Colorado State's Pierce Hornung had 12 points and 17 rebounds before fouling out.
What's next: Murray State advances to play the winner of Marquette vs. BYU on Saturday in the West Region third round.