Murray St.-SIU-Edwardsville Preview

Murray St.-SIU-Edwardsville Preview

Published Jan. 20, 2012 3:04 p.m. ET

Murray State guard Donte Poole thinks a difficult game the last time out might benefit his team when it's tested again in the future.

A visit to struggling SIU-Edwardsville on Saturday night wouldn't appear to provide that kind of challenge for the unbeaten No. 12 Racers, but they did have some trouble during last season's matchup at the Vadalabene Center.

Murray State (19-0, 7-0 Ohio Valley Conference) trailed by nine in the second half at Morehead State on Wednesday before pulling out a 66-60 victory. Isaiah Canaan scored 20 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:57 left, helping to keep the Racers as one of two undefeated teams in Division I along with top-ranked Syracuse.

Poole had 13 of his 15 points in the second half against the reigning OVC tournament champs, who also pulled off an upset of Louisville in last year's NCAA tournament.


"We can't win by 30 or 20 by every game," Poole said. "I think being in this situation, being down, having to face adversity will help us in the long run, knowing that we can be pressured, we can be on the verge of defeat, so I think it will help us tremendously."

Although they gained valuable experience, the Racers might not have to rely on it as they try to extend their best start and longest win streak in school history.

Having dropped three in a row, SIU-Edwardsville (5-11, 3-4) is on the verge of matching its longest skid this season. The Cougars have lost their past two home games, falling 80-67 to Austin Peay in the latest of those Thursday despite one of their best shooting performances of the season (51.0 percent).

They allowed the Governors to hit 54.7 percent from the floor, make five of nine 3-point attempts and outrebound them 36-27.

SIU-Edwardsville leading scorer Mark Yelovich had a season-high 20 points - 6.7 above his average - to surpass 1,000 for his career. The junior forward did not play against Murray State last season because of a broken foot that limited him to one game, and his team could have used his help in a 67-61 home loss Jan. 26.

The Cougars managed to tie that game with 3:53 remaining but missed five of their final six shots.

That game aside, the Racers haven't had too difficult a time during their eight consecutive wins in the series. They've prevailed by an average of 22.4 points during the streak and blew out the Cougars 71-46 at home Dec. 30, 2010.

Senior forward Ivan Aska had a team-best 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench during that victory.

Murray State, leading the series 8-1, is meeting SIU-Edwardsville in Ohio Valley play for the first time. The Cougars, 0-2 at home against the Racers, moved up to Division I before the 2008-09 season.

Murray State is trying to reach 20 wins for the 25th time in its 87 seasons. Steve Prohm can become the program's fourth coach to reach that plateau in his first season.