Men's Basketball

No. 12 Murray State rallies to shoot down Morehead State

Morehead State's Drew Kelly, left, snapped away a rebound, one of his six, from Murray State's Donte Poole during Wednesday's game. Kelly had 20 points for the Eagles. Poole scored 15 points, 13 in the second half.
Morehead State's Drew Kelly, left, snapped away a rebound, one of his six, from Murray State's Donte Poole during Wednesday's game. Kelly had 20 points for the Eagles. Poole scored 15 points, 13 in the second half. ASSOCIATED PRESS

MOREHEAD — Everyone, it seems, hits Murray State with their best shot these days.

Morehead State certainly did Wednesday night, yet the 12th-ranked Racers rallied down the stretch to pull out a 66-60 victory.

The first ranked team to appear in Johnson Arena, which opened Dec. 3, 1981, drew a near-capacity crowd of 6,036, most of whom were pulling for the upset.

With less than five minutes to play, the Eagles were on track to do exactly that.

With Murray's dynamic duo of Isaiah Canaan and Donte Poole scoring the Racers' last 12 points, though, the upset special was derailed.

Murray is now 19-0 overall, 7-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference.

"Just being resilient, just sticking together as a team," Poole said when asked what the win said about the team. "We knew coming in it was going to be a tough game. ... I'm a senior. This is my first time winning here."

Canaan, a 6-foot junior, finished with 20 points and three assists.

Poole, a 6-3 senior, scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half.

Combined, those two shot 18-for-21 from the free-throw line, with Murray finishing 23-for-34 overall.

Jewuan Long added 11 points, Ed Daniel had seven rebounds, and Zay Jackson totaled six assists.

Morehead (9-11, 3-4) got 20 points and six rebounds from Drew Kelly. Lamont Austin added 11 points, and Angelo Warner had 10.

"Right now, I'm more disappointed, but we are encouraged that we held with them. They are the best team in our conference," Kelly said. "But we as a team feel as if we should have won the game. All the credit goes to Murray State. They were the tough team tonight. They just out-toughed us."

Kelly didn't miss a shot, going 6-for-6 from the field, including two three-pointers, and 6-for-6 at the foul line.

However, he wasn't on the floor for the finish; he was among three Eagles who fouled out.

"We put them on the foul line 34 times," Eagles Coach Donnie Tyndall said. "If we send them to the foul line say 24 times and have a couple key guys that are still out on the floor late in the game, maybe it's a different story."

Morehead was up by as much as 11 (15-4) en route to a 37-31 halftime lead.

"The second half we held them to 23 points and we only turned it over three times," Murray Coach Steve Prohm said. "That was a huge, huge difference."

The Eagles shot 52.4 percent (11-for-21) in the first half, making five of nine three-point attempts. Murray, meanwhile, shot 40.9 percent (9-22), going 2-for-7 from long range, thanks to a Morehead defense that Tyndall described as "a matchup zone with man-to-man principles."

"When I came off a screen, the middle guy kept coming to double me," Canaan said. "... They've got one of the best zones in our conference and they executed pretty well. Their coach did a good job of telling them what they needed to do, and they went out and did it."

Morehead's shooting cooled to 36.4 percent (8-22) in the second half, while Murray improved to 45.5 (10-22).

Morehead led 44-35 early in the second half.

Poole's three-pointer capped a 12-2 flurry and gave the Racers a 47-46 lead, their first since 2-0.

Morehead took a 55-54 lead when Milton Chavis made two free throws with 4:12 left.

From there, it was all Canaan and Poole for Murray.

Canaan's three-pointer put the Racers on top to stay, 57-55, with 3:55 left.

With 3:03 left, Canaan added two free throws, which came as a result of Kelly's fifth foul.

Morehead got a slash-to-the-hoop conversion from Ty Proffitt with 2:20 left, cutting the Murray lead to 59-57.

That's as close as the Eagles would come, though.

Poole scored Murray's next six points, including four from the foul line, and Canaan finished with two more free throws.

"We can't win by 30 or 20 every game," Poole said. "I think being in this situation — being down, having to face adversity — will help us in the long run."

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