Murray State advances to OVC semifinals with win over TSU 84-51

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Murray, Ky. --- The Murray State Racers earned a spot in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament semi-finals when they defeated the Tennessee State Tigers 84-51 at the Regional Special Events Center in Murray, Ky., Tuesday.

The no. 1 seed Racers (28-4) will play the first semi-final Friday at 6 p.m. against no. 4 seed Eastern Illinois, a 68-61 winner over no. 5 seed Eastern Kentucky.

"We're going to the semi-finals and very excited about the opportunity," MSU Head Coach Billy Kennedy said. "We set the tone early tonight with our defense."

With the game tied 16-16 with 8:35 in the first half, the Racers put together a 13-0 run.

MSU came up with three steals in the sequence and saw Isacc Miles hit a three-pointer that was followed by easy baskets by B.J. Jenkins and Ivan Aska.

Miles, who tied his career-high with 11 assists, saw his team get to the half with a 36-24 lead.

TSU cut the lead to nine in the opening minutes of the second half, but MSU put the game away with an 11-0 run and eventually pushed the lead to 30 with 4:31 remaining.

Aska led the Racers with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting, while Isaiah Canaan scored 13.

Tony Easley blocked six shots to go with seven rebounds and 12 points, while Danero Thomas added 11 and Jenkins 10.

The Racers forced the Tigers into 22 turnovers and had a rebound edge of 37-27.

Murray State advances to the OVC semi-finals for the 19th time in the last 21 years and will be looking to get two wins in Nashville for the OVC Tournament Championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the 14th time.

"We have to take it like every game is the championship," MSU senior Tony Easley said. "Because once you lose, you're done and we have to keep that mindset."

Billy Kennedy, who has MSU one win from tying the school record of 29 in a single-season likes taking an experienced team back to Nashville.

"We've been there before having lost in the semi-finals last season," he said. "Hopefully that experience will be a benefit to us this time around."

GAME NOTES

The Racers' win means they'll begin the 2010-11 season with a 19-game winning streak at home. MSU was 15-0 this season and won the last four at home at the end of the 2008-09 season. At the moment, MSU's home streak is tied with ODU and Xavier for the third-best in the nation.

MSU is finished with its 12th season of basketball at the RSEC and are 146-25 for a winning percentage of .853.

The Racers had a starting lineup of Miles, Jenkins, Thomas, Aska and Easley for the 29th time in 32 games this season.

Isacc Miles has a team-high starting streak of 63 straight games, or every game he's been in a Racer uniform.

Miles tied his career-high tonight with 11 assists. The other occasion with 11 was last season as part of his triple-double against UT Martin Feb. 23, 2009. The MSU single-game record of 16 by Chad Townsend came against Eastern Illinois in 1997.

Tony Easley notched six blocked shots and has 152 for his MSU career. He still has a chance to catch MSU's all-time leader Cuthbert Victor (2000-04) at 160. Easley entered his senior season with 64 and has a school record 88 this season.

The other semi-final at 8 p.m. Friday finds no. 6 seed Tennessee Tech facing no. 2 seed Morehead State. The Golden Eagles upset no. 3 seed Austin Peay tonight 68-65, while the Eagles handled Jacksonville State 87-54.

Both semi-final games will be aired on ESPNU and Saturday's 7 p.m. championship game will be on ESPN2.

The games are played at Bridgestone Arena, formerly known as the Sommet Center.

Courtesy MSU Media Relations

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