Men's Basketball Stuns Murray State, 64-57; Clinches OVC Tournament Berth
Feb. 16, 2011
By Jeff Honza
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO. - Southeast Missouri (8-19, 6-10) punched its ticket to the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament when it knocked off first-place Murray State (20-7, 12-4), 64-57, Wednesday night at the Show Me Center.
Southeast is headed to the league's postseason tournament for the first time since 2006-07, with seeding to be determined later.
The OVC Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments return to Nashville's Municipal Auditorium in 2011 with a new merit-based format. All eight men's and all eight women's teams that qualify will gather at a single site for the entire tournament.
"This is what you work for," said an elated Southeast head coach Dickey Nutt. "I told our staff job well done. I'm so proud of our seniors Cameron Butler and Anthony Allison. It was the best win during their time here at Southeast."
Southeast, which put a halt to Murray State's eight-game winning streak, became the first team to hold the Racers under 20 points in the first half this season.
The Redhawks shot a red-hot 52.2 percent (12-of-23) from the field to grab a 30-18 halftime advantage.
Southeast rallied behind the hot hand of Leon Powell, who made a near-perfect 5-of-6 field goals and 1-of-2 free throws en route to 11 first-half points. Nutt said he felt a surge in momentum on the game's first possession.
"I thought we set the tone," said Nutt. " We were patient early and it paid off in the end."
Powell made a layup to give the Redhawks a 20-12 lead with 7:21 remaining. He then added a free throw 1:25 later.
Southeast would go on to score the last seven points in the final 3:18 of the half. Lucas Nutt scored five points and knocked down a three-pointer, while Anthony Allison chipped in two points to cap the 7-0 run.
The last time Murray State scored less than 20 points in the first half was when it scored 18 vs. Wright State on Dec. 22, 2008. It was the first time the Racers were held to under 20 first-half points in 82-consecutive games.
Murray State turned the ball over six times and did not make a three-pointer (0-of-7) in the opening stanza. Of the seven Racers that played, none had more than four points.
Southeast continued to pour it on in the second half, storming out to a 13-8 run over the first 9:10 to take its biggest lead of the night. Powell scored seven points to key the jaunt which ended when Marland Smith converted a conventional three-point play to push the Redhawks lead to 44-26 with 10:50 left.
Murray State, however, kept chipping away and sliced the lead to three (60-57) when Isaiah Canaan buried a three-pointer with 29 seconds remaining.
After Smith countered with a pair of free throws to get Southeast a five-point cushion 11 seconds later, Powell came up with a huge block on a shot attempt by B.J. Jenkins.
Smith then knocked down two more free throws to seal the 64-57 win, Southeast's first over Murray State in Cape Girardeau since 2003.
The Redhawks made 9-of-10 free throws down the stretch and shot 21-of-32 from the charity stripe for the game.
Meanwhile, the Racers shot just 9-of-10 free throws.
"I have to give Southeast Missouri credit. They played with their backs against the wall," said Murray State head coach Billy Kennedy. "They played with a sense of urgency and we didn't do that tonight."
Powell led the Redhawks with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He shot 7-of-12 from the field and 5-of-9 at the free throw line en route to his team-high sixth double-double this year.
Fellow starters Allison (14), Smith (14) and Nutt (12) also scored double figures.
Jenkins led the Racers with 18 points, while Ivan Aska added a double-double 10 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.
Murray State, which entered the game with the league's best three-point field goal percentage, shot only 22.2 percent (4-of-18) from behind the arc.
Southeast hosts Sacramento State as part of the ESPNU BracketBusters in its final home game of the season Saturday. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m., CT, at the Show Me Center.
Seniors Allison and Butler will be honored prior to the game.