Murray, KY, is college basketball.
A town of around 18,000 in the southwestern part of the state — Murray is just north of the Tennessee border and closer to Mississippi, Missouri and Arkansas than it is Louisville or Lexington — Murray is obsessed with their Murray State Racers.
Think about it like this: the town has 18,000 people, the school had about 10,000 undergraduate and grad students, and their basketball arena routinely fills to its 8,602 seat capacity on home games. On any given night, about 30% of the folks with a Murray, KY, address will be in the stands for a game. Think about that.
Mark Gottfried, Mick Cronin and Billy Kennedy all saw their careers launch in Murray, and Steve Prohm will join that list shortly, but the proud tradition of the Racers consists of 15 NCAA tournament appearances. They are thrilled just to be in the dance, and a season becomes historic when they win a game in the big dance.
This is mid-major basketball through-and-through. This isn’t Duke or North Carolina or Big Blue Nation. If it wasn’t for Isaiah Canaan and last year’s run at a perfect season, even fewer people would even know that Murray State was a program that existed. This is a small, but proud, program with a town behind them that bleeds navy blue and gold.
And thanks to the sleuthing of Matt Norlander, here’s a video that perfectly encapsulates just what the basketball team means to Murray, KY:
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.
The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:
Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.
UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.
Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.
All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.
The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.