MURRAY, Ky. -- All-American Isaiah Canaan netted 17 points as Murray State trounced Ohio Valley Conference rival Eastern Illinois 70-49 Thursday night.
"Any time you win a conference game is a good win," Murray State coach Steve Prohm said. "You have to protect your home court and we've lost the last two games."
"They're good," Eastern Illinois coach Jay Spoonhour said. "When you play a good team on their home floor or (a team) that goes out and makes shots, things usually don't go your way and that's kind of what happened."
Murray State drained 52.2 percent (24 of 46) from the field, including 11 of 25 from 3-point range with Canaan hitting 5 of 10 from deep and Fields knocking down 4 of 9.
"We were doing fine," Spoonhour said. "The game was going exactly the way we wanted it to and they were helping us in the first half by not making very many. Then I was hoping Dexter Fields would spin it the wrong way a couple more times and not find his stroke for just another half -- I didn't want him to go into a complete funk for the whole year, I just wanted another half, but you knew he wasn't. Dexter is a good shooter."
Tied 31-31 with 17:30 left, Murray State went on an 18-2 run fueled by six 3-pointers, including three by Fields and two by Canaan, for a 49-33 lead with 12:03 left. Canaan is averaging 24.0 points per game in OVC play, tops in the conference.
Murray State won the rebound battle 31-21, and no Panther registered more than four boards. The Racers scored 13 second-chance points to Eastern Illinois' four.
Eleven minutes into the game, Latreze Mushatt made his first appearance on the Racers' home court this season after battling a torn Achilles tendon and ended the game with four points in 17 minutes.
"One of the things we have to do a good job on, and I thought we did, is stay in the moment," Prohm said. "Stay focused on each half and then in the second half we actually started making shots.
"Dexter, Isaiah got open and I was proud of Tyler Rambo. I've been trying to get someone out there defensively and put pressure on the basket and I thought he did a very good job. And it was good to see Latreze continue to get healthier."
In the last 2 minutes of play in the first half, the lead switched hands three times, and, coming out of the break, the Racers led the Panthers 27-24.
"It's a long season and we've just got to find out what this team is good at," Canaan said. "We're going to pride ourselves on the defensive end each week, and we know that's what's going to win us games down the road. We're getting better at it, and we've just got to keep getting better each day at practice and turning it over to the game."
Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr., who averaged 15.8 points in 13 games before being injured last season, has withdrawn from the NBA draft.
Isaiah Briscoe has decided to withdraw from the NBA draft and will return to Kentucky for his sophomore season. Marcus Lee intends to transfer.
The Big 12/SEC Challenge will again feature Kansas and Kentucky, this time at Rupp Arena. That's not the only exciting matchup in next season's midseason conference showdown.
|Southeast Missouri State||2-14||8||5-24|