Tennessee St.-Murray St. Preview
While first-year coach Steve Prohm has a low-key approach, the
results have given Murray State a high national profile.
The ninth-ranked Racers put their perfect record on the line
once more Thursday night when they host Ohio Valley Conference
rival Tennessee State.
Prohm’s team has handled the national attention of being the
last unbeaten Division I team fairly well for nearly three weeks.
Murray State (23-0, 11-0) has had to work more to keep that
unblemished record and grinded out a 65-58 victory at last-place
Tennessee-Martin on Saturday.
Isaiah Canaan, Latreze Mushatt and Jewuan Long each scored 11
points for the Racers, who shot a season-worst 17.6 percent (3 for
17) from 3-point range – well off their season mark of 40.7
”They had jumped on us early, but we kept our composure,” said
forward Ivan Aska, who had eight points off the bench. ”We did
what we had to do and stuff like that. We didn’t get rattled too
One of the reasons the Racers don’t rattle easy has been Prohm’s
steady demeanor. A long-time assistant at Murray State before Billy
Kennedy left for Texas A&M, Prohm knows he doesn’t have to
micromanage a squad of mainly upperclassmen.
”They’ve got a lot of experience. They’ve got a lot of
togetherness, so I think they can lean on each other,” the coach
said. ”It’s about keeping everything in perspective, understanding
what’s at stake each night and then having tough-minded kids and we
Canaan might embody that toughness the most. The junior guard is
averaging a team-high 18.9 points and shooting 46.3 percent from
3-point range. He has averaged 9.2 points in five games while
starting one versus the Tigers – all wins – and has made 7 of 12
from beyond the arc in those contests.
Aska is continuing to play his way back to full strength after
missing six games with a broken hand. The senior power forward has
averaged 8.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in three games off the bench
While the notoriety of knocking off the last of the unbeatens
would be a boon for Tennessee State (15-10, 8-4), a victory would
also give the Tigers sole possession of second place in the Ohio
They enter this contest on a five-game winning streak, with
three of those victories coming on the road. Tennessee State used a
15-0 run to rally from a seven-point second-half deficit for a
75-72 win at Southeast Missouri State on Saturday, getting 23
points and 13 rebounds from Robert Covington despite him sitting
out the final 8:18 of the first half with foul trouble.
Covington is Tennessee State’s go-to player, averaging team
highs of 17.8 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 43.1 percent
from 3-point range and 51.8 percent overall. The 6-foot-8 small
forward has an OVC-leading seven double-doubles this season and has
averaged 11.8 points in five lifetime games versus the Racers.
The Tigers, who lost 102-69 at then-No. 1 North Carolina on Nov.
22, have dropped 15 straight to ranked opponents by an average of
25.6 points since the start of the 1996-97 season.
Murray State has won eight in a row between the teams since an
83-75 defeat in the 2008 OVC tournament and leads the all-time