Murray State might be the lone unbeaten team in Division I, but its only focus remains on the task at hand.
The No. 10 Racers can set the Ohio Valley Conference record with their 22nd straight victory Thursday night when they try for a fifth consecutive home win over Southeast Missouri State in a matchup of the league’s top two teams.
Murray State’s Steve Prohm also matched Columbia’s Lou Rossini (1950-51) for the third-best start to a season by a first-year coach.
While the Racers remain the nation’s biggest surprise, Prohm and his squad continue to take it all in stride.
“All of our focus (is) on a very, very good basketball team in SE Missouri,” Prohm told Murray State’s official website. “We have to continue to stay locked in on both ends.”
Though SEMO (12-9, 7-2) is Murray State’s closest league pursuer, the Racers have averaged 85.5 points while winning their last four home games in the series by an average of 19.0 points.
Murray State is shooting 49.7 percent and holding opponents to an average of 57.4 points in 10 home games. Starting guards Isaiah Canaan and Donte Poole each had 18 points against Eastern Illinois.
“(The Racers) do such a good job of moving the ball,” Eastern Illinois coach Mike Miller said. “I would guess if you go back and watch them, they find the right guy a high, high percentage of the time. I think offense is a lot of that, a lot of people can’t do it. They have great awareness for each other and the ability to make the play.”
Canaan continues to make plays while averaging 20.8 points in the last four games. The junior, however, has totaled just 28 on 10-of-34 shooting in four career contests versus SEMO. He was held to five points in 23 minutes off the bench when the Racers had their eight-game winning streak against the Redhawks snapped with a 64-57 loss Feb. 16.
Trying for its first win at Murray State since a 96-85 victory Jan. 8, 2007, SEMO is 0-8 all-time against Top 25 opponents.
The Redhawks used a 20-0 run to erase a five-point halftime deficit and beat Eastern Illinois 74-53 on Monday for their eighth win in 10 games. Missouri transfer Tyler Stone had 18 points and 10 rebounds, while junior Marland Smith led the way with 19 points.
The 6-foot-8 Stone averages a team-high 15.0 points and is tied for the team lead with 7.3 rebounds per game.
Smith has totaled 46 points on 14-of-28 shooting in two games at Murray State. He scored 27 in a 96-58 loss there Jan. 22, 2011.