Saint Mary’s (Cal)-Murray St. Preview
Murray State already has its conference title after winning the
Ohio Valley Conference’s regular-season crown. Now, the 16th-ranked
Racers have their made-for-TV match.
Murray State hosts No. 21 St. Mary’s in a nationally-televised
BracketBusters game on Saturday and even the Racers are wondering
just how they’ll measure up against the West Coast Conference
“It’s kind of like everyone wants to see what we’re going to do
how we’re going to react. So, I mean, it’s just a good test for
us,” Racers guard Donte Poole said. “It’s going to be a very
The school issued a warning to students about scalping their
free tickets before the Racers’ final home appearance this season,
the latest example of big-time basketball that’s invaded
southwestern Kentucky after the Racers (25-1) won their first 23
The last unbeaten team in the nation finally fell to Tennessee
State on Feb. 9, a loss that lingered even though the Racers have
gone on to win a conference title in each of the last three years
include this season with wins over Austin Peay and Southeast
“The Tennessee State game is still kind of surreal a little
bit,” Racers coach Steve Prohm said. “I’ve moved past it a little
Murray State will host its sixth straight sellout and is
expected to exceed the all-time attendance record of 8,691 set
earlier this season, and tickets have popped up on secondary
markets – including over $600 for a pair of nonstudent tickets
listed on eBay on Friday afternoon.
“We hope our students would use their tickets to attend this
weekend’s game,” associate athletic director Paul Bubb said. “But
we realize there are those who may try to sell their tickets.”
The school has measures in place to stop resale of student
tickets, meaning nonstudents who attempt to use them will be turned
Saint Mary’s (23-4) has lost two of its last three in league
play and is dealing with injuries to guards Stephen Holt and
leading scorer Matthew Dellavedova. Holt did not make the
2,300-mile trip because of a right knee injury sustained in a 75-60
loss to Loyola Marymount on Wednesday.
“Our defense wasn’t very good and we need to improve that and
just pay attention to the little things,” Dellavedova said. “If we
do that, I think we’ll be OK.”
Dellavedova, who is averaging 15.5 points a game, rolled an
ankle in that game, but is expected to play in what is an important
matchup for NCAA tournament seeding purposes and maybe an at-large
bid if either team sustains a serious late-season slide.
“We’re not doing a good job defensively, and it’s been coming
on. It’s like I told them, `You get what you tolerate,'” said Gaels
coach Randy Bennett, who is wearing a cast on his left hand after
breaking his thumb last month. “We knew these last two, three weeks
were going to be tough any. We go play Murray State. They’ve lost
one game, so it’s going to be a tough game.”
And following two tough days of travel. St. Mary’s flew from
California to Kansas City then to Nashville on Thursday before
practicing at Vanderbilt on Friday morning. They then took the
two-hour bus ride to Murray, Ky. on Friday afternoon.
Both teams are led by their guards with Dellavedova starring for
the Gaels and Isaiah Canaan running the point for the Racers.
Canaan, averaging 19.2 points per game, had his second lowest
output of the season when he scored nine in a 75-66 victory over
Southeast Missouri on Wednesday.
Poole picked him up with 25 points and said the Racers have a
deeper team than just Canaan and plan to do more than just rest on
another OVC conference crown beginning with Saturday’s matchup.
“Not every game is going to be Isaiah’s day. Not every game is
he going to score 30 or 20 points. So that’s just when other guys
have to step up,” Poole said. “There’s just so much more we want to
accomplish. It’s not only about a regular season championship, we
want to go and win a conference tournament championship and go and
make some noise in the NCAA tournament.”