NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Winning time requires winning plays. A handful of them.
And Murray State got enough of them on Saturday night, escaping the Gentry Center with a 73-65 win over Tennessee State.
For the Racers, it was a coast-to-coast layup from sophomore Tevin Brown.
A scrum-steal from freshman DaQuan Smith, which led to an outlet slam from freshman Demond Robinson.
A Brown 3-pointer from the left elbow, just after Tigers guard Michael Littlejohn had cut it to a 59-58 Racer lead.
A KJ Williams deflection, where he corrected from the right corner and denied an entry pass in the post, then sprinted up the court for a putback slam of a Jaiveon Eaves miss.
And that all happened in the final four minutes, as the Racers (18-6, 11-1 Ohio Valley Conference) outscored the Tigers (15-10, 7-5) 14-7 down the stretch for an 11th conference win and outright first place in the league.
"What a battle," noted MSU fifth-year coach Matt McMahon, exhausted.
Brown scored a game-high 28 points on 10-for-18 shooting, adding three rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers as the only player on either team logging the full 40 minutes.
And it seemed every point was needed, as TSU's Jy'lan Washington erupted for 24 points and 12 rebounds - canning 6-for-10 from the floor, 4-for-5 from the arc and 8-for-9 from the line.
Williams was MSU's only other double-digit scorer, pouring in 13 points, eight rebounds and his 10th 3-pointer in conference play.
A combined 43 fouls put the Racers in a bit of a bind for depth, particularly in the frontcourt, which led to 20 minutes (and eight boards with four points) from junior forward Devin Gilmore.
Second half surge
Leading just 33-29 at the break, MSU avoided a slow start to the second half behind an 11-5 run, sprung by an opening 3-pointer from Jaiveon Eaves.
TSU, meanwhile, managed to attempt just eight field goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
But back-to-back 3-pointers from Washington and Littlejohn cut it to a 55-52 Racer lead, which set up the exhilarating finish.
First half battle
Turnovers - particularly unforced - were an issue again early for MSU, which had nine in the first half.
TSU, however, turned them into only seven points, shooting just 38.5% from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
The Tigers led 11-3 eight minutes into the game when the Racers responded with a barrage of 3-pointers - Brown, Brown, Williams - to cut it to 20-16. A DaQuan Smith curl, followed by a pass from Noah Kamba to Anthony Smith for a 15-foot jumper, made it 20-all.
Washington had 15 points by halftime, and his third 3-pointer gave the Tigers a 27-25 lead heading into the final first-half media timeout.
But the Racers closed on an 8-2 run - getting two free throws from Robinson, a putback from Gilmore, a Robinson slam on a slip pass from Brown, and an Eaves cut after Brown was doubled.
MSU shot 50% from the floor in the second half, and for the game outscored TSU in the paint 34-18, on the fastbreak 10-2, off the bench 17-8, and mitigated 20 TSU points on 16 Racer turnovers with 17 points on 17 TSU miscues.