MURRAY — On a night where shots didn’t fall for either side and points came at a premium in the first half, the Racers dropped a close one to Missouri State 71-69. It was a tough loss for the Racers, who also suffered a loss before the game tipped off.
Just before tip-off last night, a statement from head coach Matt McMahon was released in regards to freshman point guard Chico Carter, Jr. and his availability for the foreseeable future.
“Chico Carter, Jr. will be sidelined indefinitely after suffering a fractured bone in his hand at the Gulf Coast Showcase last week,” McMahon said. “I am disappointed for Chico as his freshman season is off to a great start. I look forward to Chico making a speedy recovery and I’m extremely excited about his bright future at Murray State.”
The Racers could’ve used his spark last night not he offensive end as they struggled to the tune of just 37% from the floor and didn’t have a single assist at halftime. Despite the poor performance on the offensive side of the ball, the Racers were in the game with the Bears up until the final horn. They battled and persevered last night and kept themselves in the game on the defensive end of the floor.
“Disappointing loss,” McMahon said. “We had about five guys who fought their guts out for us tonight. I mean, just laid it on the lining we’ve got to get to where we’ve got seven, eight, none guys who fight like that.”
“We rebounded well enough to win. I thought we limited our turnovers. We did a much better job executing offensively when we were screening and doing a good job curling some of those pin downs. We did a great job getting to the free-throw line. We’ll certainly look back on a few we missed there in the second half and wish we could have those back, but again all I know to do is to keep fighting. We’ve got to keep working to get better and find ways to win games like this.”
The first half saw both teams struggle to score with the halftime score of 25-22. Through the first quarter of play, the only player to reach double digits was Tevin Brown and he had to take nine shots to get those points. One of the areas of concern coming into the game was the three-point defense and the Racers were stellar at guarding that area of the floor in the first half. They held the Bears to 3-12 from the arc and did an excellent job of rebounding against a team that averaged over 10 offensive rebounds per game.
The second half was a completely different story offensively for both teams as they found a rhythm. Murray State scored 47 in the half and shot 44% from the floor, but the Bears hit some big shots as well. The biggest came with about 30 seconds left to play and with the Racers on top by one. Kinder Cook, a senior guard for the Bears, came off a screen and buried a long triple with a hand on his face to take the lead.
“We were able to get going offensively there in the second half,” McMahon said. “Made some big plays to take the lead late. We got switched off defensively on that last possession and Cook was well defended but he hit a heck of a shot there to take the lead, and then we weren’t able to execute in the last 30 seconds to give ourselves another chance.”
“We just couldn’t get the stops. We guarded the three so well in the first half. I was just thrilled with our improvement there, but there in the second half, we were late on a closeout to Cooper, he hit one, and then Cook hits a really tough one there to win the game.”
Brown finished the night with a game-high 19 points on 5-17 shooting. Anthony Smith recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Jaiveon Eaves added 14 points and six rebounds. The loss was tough and McMahon hated it. Not for himself, but for the guys that he saw compete their tails off on the court last night. He said that’s a foundation he can build on and that’s exactly what they plan to do.
“I just wanted it so bad for those guys who did compete like crazy for us, and that’s what we’ve really tried to build our program on,” McMahon said. “It’s great when you’ve got NBA guys, and all-league guys, and all that, but I want the foundation to be, you compete your guts out every second you’re on the floor and I thought we had four or five guys really step forward and do that. We need to build on it. The thing we’ve proven right now at this point, we’re sitting at 4-4, we weren’t ready to beat a top 20 team in Tennessee. We weren’t ready to beat an A-10 team in La Salle, and we haven’t proven to be ready to beat two of the top Missouri Valley teams. We’ve got five of our six next games at home. We’ve got to build on the competitive fire we showed here and now we’ve got to learn and get better so we can win on Saturday night at home against Middle Tennessee.”