COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Rebound, the Racers did, on Saturday night – and in more ways than one – as Murray State followed up Thursday’s tough loss at Jacksonville State with a dominant 71-45 victory over Tennessee Tech at the Eblen Center.

The Golden Eagles were 8-0 prior to Saturday and possessed the top 3-point shooting percentage in the league coming into the game, but the Racers minded neither – holding TTU to 1-for-16 from behind the arc while outrebounding Tech 38-21, including a massive 28-to-14 discrepancy on the defensive glass.

“I think we came out with a sense of urgency and purpose – especially on the defensive end of the floor,” noted MSU head coach Matt McMahon after the win. “You’re talking about a Tennessee Tech team that averages 79 points per game and leads the league in 3-point shooting. We hold them to 45 and 1-of-16 from behind the arc.

“I thought our guys’ defensive energy and effort was off the charts, and I am really proud of their effort tonight.”

At the front of the pack for MSU was senior forward Terrell Miller and his double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds), freshman point guard Ja Morant and his steady self (13 points, seven rebounds, three assists) and another strong shooting night from Jonathan Stark – who led all scorers with 18 points on 6-for-12 from the field and four more 3-pointers.

His first triple of the night capped the Racers’ emphatic 16-4 start to the game, as MSU actually opened with an 11-0 run behind a 5-for-7 start from the field.

By the under-12 media timeout, the Racers held a 22-8 lead over Tech – with MSU outrebounding TTU 12-2, Morant leading the way with 9/3/3 and McMahon’s men shooting 9-for-14 from the floor.

Tech wouldn’t get within eight points for the rest of the game, with graduate senior Kajon Mack being the only Golden Eagle to reach double figures (11 points).

“Coach told us we needed to control the glass if we wanted to win or impact the game,” Miller said after the victory. “That’s what we’ve been trying to do a lot this year – get on the offensive glass and defensive glass. Coach feels like if we can control that, we can win a lot of games. It helps a lot getting extra-chance shots or getting rebounds and getting out rebounding.

“It helped us tonight, and that showed on the court.”

Racers still turnover prone

Murray State was able to open up a 37-23 halftime lead behind 15-for-26 shooting from the field and a 23-7 rebounding advantage in the first 20 minutes. Tech also managed to miss all of its free throws in the first half (0-7), while going just 2-for-11 overall from the stripe in the loss.

But the lead could’ve been much larger for MSU, as the Racers committed 10 turnovers in the first half and finished the game with 18 – two days after committing 16 in a five-point loss at Jacksonville State.

“Credit Tennessee Tech – they force more than 15 turnovers per game by getting out in the passing lanes and denying passes to the wings and pressuring the basketball,” McMahon noted. “Obviously, we’ve got to handle that better. We can’t turn the ball over 18 times, especially on the road. But I think that had to do with Tennessee Tech’s pressure.

“But that’s the good thing for us; we were able to be solid defensively, limit them to one shot and really do a good job defending the 3-point arc.”

Second chances swing MSU’s way

The Racers were also able to turn 10 offensive rebounds into 16 second-chance points – all while limiting TTU to just two second-chance points with its seven offensive boards.

Miller played a big part in those putbacks – going 3-for-3 with his offensive second chances to help offset a 1-for-5 night from behind the arc. He’s 2-for-12 from deep in the last two games.

“Terrell was huge in the paint tonight, and that’s what I’ve really emphasized to him over the last 36 hours,” McMahon said. “Both ends of the floor. He had some great moves in the post and scored it well there, and he did a great job guarding their fours on the perimeter. And then he cleaned up the glass for us real well, where he had eight rebounds for us in the first half.”

Racers tame Tech triples tendencies

Tech was shooting a shade over 41 percent from the arc in its 4-1 start to conference play.

But the only Golden Eagle to make a triple was Shaq Calhoun (five points). Curtis Phillips was 0-for-4, Mack was 0-for-3, Mason Ramsey, Corey Tillery and Aleksa Jugovic all missed their lone looks and Cade Crosland was 0-for-2.

“It was just closing out discipline,” Miller noted of the defense. “Getting out and moving on the pass instead of just watching the ball swing. We moved with the pass. That helped us a lot tonight. Holding them to one shot helped us a lot tonight, too. I’m glad we got on their home court and held them to 1-for-16 from three.”

Jugovic – an All-OVC guard for Tech – only played 11 minutes after going down hard with what looked like a turned right ankle. He was in an air-cast after the game.

MURRAY ST. 71, TENNESSEE TECH 45

MURRAY ST. Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Dupree 27 2-3 0-0 0-4 1 4 4

Miller 30 6-10 2-2 3-10 0 2 15

Buchanan 22 2-4 2-2 0-3 0 0 6

Morant 35 6-9 0-0 1-7 3 1 13

Stark 39 6-12 2-3 0-0 5 2 18

Hawkins 23 2-6 3-4 1-2 3 2 8

A.Smith 14 2-3 0-0 1-3 0 1 4

Sanchious 7 0-1 0-0 1-3 0 0 0

Taylor 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Hopewell 1 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Whitley 1 1-1 0-0 1-1 0 0 3

Gilmore -- 0-0 0-0 0-2 0 0 0

Totals 200 27-50 9-11 8-35 12 12 71

Percentages: FG .540, FT .818.

3-Point Goals: 8-22, .364 (Stark 4-9, Morant 1-1, Whitley 1-1, Hawkins 1-4, Miller 1-5, Buchanan 0-1, Hopewell 0-1).

Team Rebounds: 3. Team Turnovers: 18 (13 PTS).

Blocked Shots: 3 (Dupree 3).

Turnovers: 18 (Morant 5, Stark 4, Hawkins 3, Miller 3, Sanchious 2, Buchanan).

Steals: 7 (Stark 3, Buchanan, Hawkins, Morant, Sanchious).

Technical Fouls: None.

TENNESSEE TECH Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Alexander 20 2-6 1-4 3-6 0 0 5

Phillips 33 3-9 0-1 2-5 0 3 6

Ramsey 30 4-11 0-2 0-1 1 2 8

Jugovic 11 1-3 0-0 0-0 3 1 2

Mack 39 5-11 1-4 0-3 2 2 11

Calhoun 32 2-5 0-0 0-3 1 2 5

Henry 13 4-4 0-0 0-0 0 2 8

Crosland 12 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

Tillery 10 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Totals 200 21-52 2-11 5-18 8 13 45

Percentages: FG .404, FT .182.

3-Point Goals: 1-16, .063 (Calhoun 1-4, Jugovic 0-1, Ramsey 0-1, Tillery 0-1, Crosland 0-2, Mack 0-3, Phillips 0-4).

Team Rebounds: 3. Team Turnovers: 13 (20 PTS).

Blocked Shots: 1 (Phillips).

Turnovers: 13 (Phillips 5, Henry 3, Mack 2, Tillery 2, Ramsey).

Steals: 10 (Alexander 2, Tillery 2, Calhoun, Henry, Jugovic, Mack, Phillips, Ramsey).

Technical Fouls: None.

Murray St. 37 34—71

Tennessee Tech 23 22—45

A: 2,054 (9,280).

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