Preview: Murray State at Jacksonville State

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Photo by Dave Winder

MURRAY STATE RACERS (16-3, 7-1 Ohio Valley)
Head Coach: Matt McMahon (Appalachian State, 2000)
Career Record: 75-40 (4th season) At MUR: Same OVC: 41-17

JACKSONVILLE STATE GAMECOCKS (15-6, 7-1 Ohio Valley)
Head Coach: Ray Harper (Kentucky Wesleyan, 1985)
Career Record: 489-161 (20th) At JSU: 58-34 (3rd) OVC: 27-15

Date: Jan. 31 Time: 7:30 p.m. CT Site: Jacksonville, Ala. Arena: Mathews Coliseum Radio: Racer Radio - WFGE 103.7 FM - PXP-Neal Bradley, Analyst-Kenny Roth TV: None Online Video: ESPN+ Audio: GoRacers.com & Froggy103.com Live Stats: StatBroadcast.com Twitter: @MSURacers @RacersHoops @RacerDave23

Series: MSU leads 22-2 Home: MSU leads 11-0 Away: MSU leads 9-2 Neutral: MSU leads 2-0 Last Meeting: 2018 OVC Tournament Semifinals MSU Won 70-63 Last JSU Win: 2018 at home 68-60 Last 5 Meetings: MSU 4-1 Last OT: 2006 at JSU. MSU won 72-71 Last 10 Meetings: MSU 8-2 Trends: MSU: Is 4-0 on OVC road this season JSU: has won 8-of-9

MSU Last: Jan. 26 won at home 100-62 vs TSU

JSU Last: Jan. 26 won at MOR 77-71

MSU Next: Feb. 2 at TTU MSU next home: Feb. 7 vs EIU JSU Next: Feb. 2 home vs APSU

The Murray State Racers (16-3, 7-1 OVC) take on the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (15-6, 7-1 OVC) in a battle for first place in the Ohio Valley Conference Thursday at Pete Mathews Coliseum in Jacksonville, Alabama. The game marks their only meeting of the regular season and the first since they met last March in the OVC Tournament semifinals where the Racers prevailed 70-63 and eventually advanced to their 16th NCAA Tournament appearance.

Froggy 103 (WFGS 103.7 FM) airs every MSU game with "Voice of the Racers" Neal Bradley calling the action in his 28th season. Former MSU assistant coach Kenny Roth provides commentary. Froggy103.com and GoRacers.com has free online streaming audio. The game can also be seen online at Watch ESPN+.

The Racers have won the last two with JSU including a game at home last February 68-60. MSU's last visit to JSU was in January of 2018 when the Gamecocks bested the Racers on their home floor 76-71. The average winning margin in theese last  three meetings a year ago was only 6.6 points. The all-time series belongs to the Racers at 22-2 with their only other loss also at JSU in 2013.

The Racers are coming off a week in which more than 16,000 fans flocked to the CFSB Center in Murray to see the Racers play Belmont and Tennessee State. A record 8,969 for the 21 seasons of the CFSB Center watched the Belmont game in front of a national TV audience.  MSU dropped the Belmont game 77-69, but came  back to take care of TSU 100-62. MSU now heads out on the road where they are 6-2 this season and 4-0 in OVC play. The Racers are 11-2 in the last two seasons in OVC road games and haven't gone undefeated since the 2014-15 season when the team ran the table in going 16-0 overall including 8-0 away from home.

MSU sophomore Ja Morant enters the week with 51 career games played and has produced 862 points and 401 assists. As for this season, Morant has 200 assists and is only 12 from the Murray State single-season mark of Chad Townsend's 212 in the 1996-97 season. THe OVC record of 255 was set by Duane Washington in 1986-87. Morant is also on his way to accomplishing something that has never been done at the NCAA D-I level and that is average 20 points and 10 assists per game in a single-season. Since the assist was made an official statistic in 1983, there have been only three instances of a player even averaging 10 for points and assists. The last instance was Jason Brickman of LIU Brooklyn who scored 11.3 points per game and dished out 10.0 assists in the 2013-14 season. Morant is also likely to finish among the best of the best at MSU when combining points and assists in the same season, among those with at least 100 assists in a season.

The Massey Ratings predicts a 73-70 Murray State victory.

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