Scouting the Racers

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

It’s finals week at SIU, and the men’s basketball team has a competition-free week until traveling Saturday to Murray State. 

Here’s a preview of the matchup:

Murray State — 7 p.m. Friday at CFSB Center, Murray, Ky.

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Coach Barry Hinson and the Salukis return to the CFSB Center for the first time since Hinson’s infamous post-game rant after a 73-65 loss on Dec. 17, 2013.

The all-time series between the Racers and Salukis is tied at 16-16. Murray State has won the matchup the previous two seasons.

First-year head coach Matt McMahon is establishing his own reputation with the Racers, who went 31-2 in 2011 when he was an assistant coach.

This year he has led Murray State through a tough non-conference schedule, playing four top-100 Rating Percentage Index teams. The Racers won against Middle Tennessee on Nov. 17 and against Milwaukee on Nov. 23. The teams are 74 and 89, respectively, in RPI rankings.

SIU’s only game against a top-100 team was a 72-69 win against Kent State on Nov. 18. Murray State will be the third top-150 RPI opponent thus far on the schedule, joining UTEP.

The Salukis will be the Racers’ third consecutive Missouri Valley Conference opponent. They lost 85-81 in overtime to Evansville on Dec. 5, and lost to Illinois State 63-61 on Dec. 13.

Murray State is shooting 44 percent overall and 33 percent from three-point range this season. SIU is shooting 48 and 35.6 percent, respectively.

Junior guard Bryce Jones is shooting three-pointers at 39.3 percent for the Racers. He is also the leading free-throw shooter at 93.5 percent.

The Racers have shot 168 free throws this year, compared to the Salukis’ 273.

Murray’s likely five starters average between 9.6 and 14.4 points per game, but its bench is not deep. Three bench players have played in nine of the Racers’ 10 games, while SIU has had five players off the bench in all 11 games.

Senior forward Wayne Langston leads the team with 14.4 points per game and a 67.7 field goal percentage. Langston is Murray State’s second tallest player at 6 feet, 7 inches. Saluki junior center Bola Olaniyan and senior center Ibby Djimde will likely guard Langston.

Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3304.

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