Racers' Smith quietly posts standout season

DAVE WINDER | MSU Athletics

A quick look at Murray State senior forward Anthony Smith's numbers shows he's on target for an All-OVC type season.

It's easy to talk about all the prolific scoring from the "flashy" guys at Murray State -- 3-pointers from Tevin Brown, dunks from K.J. Williams, steals-and-scores from DaQuan Smith and Chico Carter Jr., floaters from Jaiveon Eaves.

And then there's senior forward Anthony Smith, quietly averaging a blue-collar 10.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game -- and 67-for-95 from the charity stripe, a near league-best in attempts.

Those numbers are only better through four games in conference play (13.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg), and in last week's victories against Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech, he came away with 10 offensive rebounds. In four Ohio Valley Conference wins, he's grabbing no less than three second-chance opportunities per contest.

"I'm really just seeing where my teammates shoot the ball," Smith said. "Just trying to have a good idea where the ball is going to come off of the rim at, and I'm just chasing it. Not really hesitating. Just really trying to go after it, and do all I can to get that rebound before anybody else can."

He's scored fewer than five points in a game just once in these first 16 games, is riding a 16-game streak with at least one offensive rebound, and has registered fewer than five rebounds in a game just thrice (against Southern Illinois, La Salle and Weber State).

Coming into this week, he's fourth in the OVC in rebounding, eighth in field goal percentage (.560), fourth in offensive boards per game (3.6), and ninth in defensive boards (4.6).

And this is coming off of a season in which he missed all but five games with a broken foot he sustained in practice.

"Just the ultimate winner," noted MSU's fifth-year coach Matt McMahon after Saturday's win at Tennessee Tech. "I'm just really proud of what he brings to our team. I think he sets the example every day not necessarily vocally, but just how he works, and how he practices. And obviously on the game floor, how he competes.

"I've never seen him take a play off, and I think you can win a lot of games with people like that. I think it's contagious in our team, and he finished with another double-double (14-10), and I though his effort was just relentless (against the Golden Eagles)."

Gilmore goes

Murray State junior forward Devin Gilmore finally missed his first shot of 2020 in last Saturday's road win at Tennessee Tech.

So, his start to conference play? A near-perfect 13-for-14 shooting, 6.5 ppg and 3.5 rpg in 13.5 minutes per game. And a nod from McMahon this week after he posted 12 critical defensive minutes in a 72-68 win against Jacksonville State last Thursday.

"He's the best athlete on our team," McMahon noted. "Elite, elite athleticism. When he's flying around out there on the court and playing with great energy and activity level, I think he has a huge impact on the game.

"Obviously, very pleased with his start from an offensive efficiency standpoint. But he understands his role, accepts his role and thrives in that role. You're not going to see him taking shots outside of his role within the team, and I think that's a great credit to him. But the thing I was most impressed with him this past weekend was he had his best defensive game for us on Thursday (against Jacksonville State) in the second half … altered a lot of shots, and I thought that was a big key in winning that game."

Brown Town

After playing all 80 minutes of last week's two road wins at Tech and JSU, Brown continues to lead the OVC in minutes played (36.6 mpg) -- just ahead of Austin Peay's Terry Taylor and UT Martin's Quintin Dove and Parker Stewart.

"Tevin brings a type of energy to the team that you can't find in most people," Smith said. "He's real locked in when it comes to game in, and he takes every possession serious -- as you all should. And the dedication he has for the game? That he puts on the floor? Every player should have and want to play with."

Martin, again

For the second time in 14 days, Murray State faces the UT Martin Skyhawks tonight at 7 -- this time at the Elam Center in Martin, Tennessee.

While the Racers have managed its 4-0 start to league play, UTM is just 1-3 -- but spent last week clipping Tennessee State before nearly overtaking the Belmont Bruins.

In this four-game league stretch, Stewart (24.0 ppg, 37.3% shooting), Dove (22.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg) and guard Derek Hawthorne Jr. (12.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg) have really shouldered the statistical load.

This time around, however, the Skyhawks will have the services of its 6-6, 215-pound junior forward Steve Wooten Jr., who shot 35% last week -- but also averaged 9.0 ppg and 9.5 rpg.

And aside from the Austin Peay series in recent years, Murray State has had ample time to develop and tweak against a league opponent, which isn't afforded this time.

"I'm not sure, but we'll find out," McMahon said. "We haven't really done that a whole lot, other than with Austin Peay, where you play (a conference opponent) twice in 14 days. There's a lot of familiarity, I would think, between the two teams playing so close together. But I'm not sure what kind of impact it has on the game."

Murray State vs. UT Martin

Time: 7 tonight

Location: Martin, Tenn.

Venue: Elam Center (4,300)

MSU Head Coach: Matt McMahon (98-47, 5th year)

UTM Head Coach: Anthony Stewart (47-63, 4th year)

All-Time Series: MSU leads 52-7

Last Met: Jan. 2, 2020 (MSU won 89-76)

Listen Live: Froggy 103.7 FM (PxP: Neal Bradley, Color: Kenny Roth)

Follow Live: ESPN+, @RacersHoops, @RacerDave23, @dreamarlowe85

By the Numbers

MSU UTM

PPG 76.2 76.9

PA 63.0 82.9

FG% 48.3 45.3

FG%D 39.0 50.0

3PT% 34.0 34.0

3PT%D 34.0 42.0

FT% 70.3 72.0

REB 38.8 34.0

RMAR plus-9.6 minus-2.9

APG 14.8 11.2

TOPG 13.6 12.5

SPG 5.8 5.2

BPG 3.6 3.5

Murray State vs. UT Martin

Time: 7 tonight

Location: Martin, Tenn.

Venue: Elam Center (4,300)

MSU Head Coach: Matt McMahon (98-47, 5th year)

UTM Head Coach: Anthony Stewart (47-63, 4th year)

All-Time Series: MSU leads 52-7

Last Met: Jan. 2, 2020 (MSU won 89-76)

Listen Live: Froggy 103.7 FM (PxP: Neal Bradley, Color: Kenny Roth)

Follow Live: ESPN+, @RacersHoops, @RacerDave23, @dreamarlowe85

By the Numbers

MSU UTM

PPG 76.2 76.9

PA 63.0 82.9

FG% 48.3 45.3

FG%D 39.0 50.0

3PT% 34.0 34.0

3PT%D 34.0 42.0

FT% 70.3 72.0

REB 38.8 34.0

RMAR plus-9.6 minus-2.9

APG 14.8 11.2

TOPG 13.6 12.5

SPG 5.8 5.2

BPG 3.6 3.5

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