Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Farewell to the Racers

Well, we didn't want to write this piece right now.  We all know, of course, that Murray State's 25-game winning streak -- the second-longest in the nation behind UK -- was shattered at the very end of the OVC Final, when Belmont hit the last of its fifteen three-pointers to beat the Racers 88-87.  The OVC probably had the best conference tournament in the country, by the way -- look at the last three games:

Murray St. 80 - 77 Morehead St.
E. Kentucky 52 - 53 Belmont (OT)
Murray St. 87 - 88 Belmont

It's extremely rare for a team to get into the NCAA Tournament by winning back-to-back one-point games.  But the OVC has had a whole series of stirring tournaments lately.  Look at the last four OVC title games:

3/3/12:  Murray State 54, Tennessee St. 52
3/9/13:  Belmont 70, Murray State 68 (OT)
3/8/14:  E. Kentucky 79, Belmont 73
3/7/15:  Belmont 88, Murray State 87

These were all excellent games.  The three-way rivalry between Murray, Eastern, and Belmont is one of the most stirring in the country, and you should watch them play whenever you get the chance.

Anyway, the Racers had a great year -- this was the only time in their long history to go through the OVC Regular Season without a single loss, and it's almost unheard of for any team from a conference like the OVC to win 25 games in a row.  Murray State has Cameron Payne, a sophomore who was the best player in the Conference, and he should be back to lead them to another strong season next year.  The Racers also have Steve Prohm, who is one of my favorite coaches.  They just have to figure out how to win that last game against Belmont.

I very much wanted Murray State to get an at-large bid to the tournament -- it seems brutally unfair to go from ranked in the AP Poll to missing the tournament altogether just because you run into Belmont (in Nashville) on a red-hot night.  But I think everyone in the Jackson Purchase understands that life is not always (or even mostly) fair.  To give credit to the folks at Murray State, they've always had the attitude that being from Murray is its own reward.  The growth and success of the Murray State program is one of my favorite sports stories, and I believe that the Racers will be back.

Murray State finishes with a record of 27-5 overall, and 16-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference.  They were the OVC Regular Season Champions, and they reached the final of the OVC Tournament.  They also earned a bid to the NIT.  Their failure to reach the NCAA Tournament means that Kentucky and Louisville are the only teams from the Commonwealth who are still dancing.


  1. The more I think about the brackets the more I'm frustrated by the whole setup. It's a shame what happened to Murray State. Still they had a great year and have a chance to prove their worth in the NIT. Go RACERS!!