It's no secret: Murray State has its ringleader in sophomore guard Tevin Brown. He's averaging 20.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg and has buried 21 3-pointers and dished out 32 assists in this 7-0 Ohio Valley Conference start.
But No. 2 in team minutes since Jan. 1? It's senior guard Jaiveon Eaves (215 minutes), who -- coming into tonight's 7 o'clock home matchup against Tennessee State -- is shooting 52.5% from the floor (32-for-61), 44% from the arc (11-for-25), 75% from the line (12-for-16), is grabbing 2.9 rebounds per game, and almost owns a 1-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio (15-to-17) for his team against the league.
In Thursday's pivotal 85-75 win over Belmont, he shook off to late turnovers to bury back-to-back triples for a late six-point lead -- as the Racers outscored the Bruins 20-10 after the final media timeout to win.
"It's not that complicated," described fifth-year MSU coach Matt McMahon. "Hard work. He lives in the gym. But thing I was most proud of him tonight was he showed his senior leadership. 'Cause he had some big turnovers in that stretch, and you think, a freshman probably puts their head down and that's the end of their night.
"But made a couple mistakes, and then -- up two -- hit a huge three to go up five, get him another three in the (right) corner, and he hits. Really good player. I thought he showed great maturity to move on from those mistakes, and make the next play."
The 6-2, 205-pound senior guard from Madisonville now has a 3-pointer in 12 games this season -- including six of seven OVC contests.
TSU (12-8, 4-3) took its first true league walloping on Thursday in Clarksville, Tennessee, 99-74, to Austin Peay -- as preseason OVC Player of the Year Terry Taylor and heralded freshman guard Jordyn Adams both erupted for 37 points and combined for 11 3-pointers.
But second-year Tigers coach and former Belmont Bruins guard Penny Collins has this team operating much differently than year one, when TSU finished 9-21 and out of the OVC Tournament.
Carlos Marshall Jr., a 6-6, 210-pound redshirt sophomore from Southwest Tennessee Community College, is leading the Tigers in scoring (12.6 ppg, 42.1% shooting) while grabbing 4.1 rpg. As a team, TSU is rebounding extremely well (plus-6.3 rebounding margin), shooting from the arc effectively (35.7%), and has gotten double-digit scoring from Marshall, Michael Littlejohn (Sr., Southwest Tennessee Community College), Shakem Johnson (Jr., Navarro College) and Jy'lan Washington (R-Sr., Louisiana Tech) since the start of league play.
"It was a really great win," McMahon said after the Belmont victory.
"But we've really got to turn our attention to a really good Tennessee State team on Saturday. I just think Coach Collins has done such a great job, and we've got to be ready to go."
By the Numbers
PPG 78.1 75.7
PA 65.1 73.4
FG% 48.7 47.7
FG%D 39.9 42.4
3PT% 36.5 35.7
3PT%D 34.3 34.5
FT% 70.8 65.0
REB 39.1 38.2
RMAR plus-9.8 plus-6.3
APG 15.4 14.3
TOPG 13.5 16.5
SPG 5.3 5.4
BPG 3.6 4.3