I’d like to welcome y’all to The Murray State Show


On Thursday night, Murray State overcame a double-digit deficit at home to knock of Southeast Missouri State 81-73, keeping their record unblemished and the dream of a perfect season alive.

But having to overcome a double-digit deficit against a team like Southeast Missouri State isn’t exactly the way to prove to the country that an unblemished record is anything more than happenstance. Murray State plays in the Ohio Valley, a league that isn’t exactly known for one-and-done freshmen and fielding Final Four favorites. Murray State’s three marquee wins this season? The two teams — Southern Miss and Memphis — currently battling for the regular season title in what may end up being a one-bid Conference USA and the Dayton Flyers, whose season has been more of a roller coaster ride than a night out with Lindsey Lohan.

As of today — Friday, Feb. 3rd — Murray State is sitting 10th in the AP top 25 poll. If the season ended today, the Racers would probably be looking at a five seed, give or take a seed line, in the NCAA Tournament.

I think we can all agree that the Racers aren’t one of the top 10 teams in the country. We can also probably agree on the fact that whichever 12 seed draws the Racers in the first round will be looking at a pretty favorable matchup.

In simpler terms, Murray State is overrated, and you probably won’t find many people that will argue that fact.

But that’s not the point.

Let me ask you this question: in the last five years, how many regular season Ohio Valley games have you watched? I’m not talking about the five conference championship games that have been broadcast on ESPN in that time frame or the seven games NCAA Tournament games — including wins by Murray State and Morehead State in 2009 and 2011, respectively — a league member has participated in.

I’m talking regular season conference games.

You’re number probably isn’t that high even if you are a college basketball junky.

But on Thursday night, everyone was tuned into what turned out to be a fantastic game between the Racers and the Redhawks. Everyone got a chance to see the Racers make a tremendous second half run, sparked by a flurry of deep threes from aptly named star guard Isaiah Canaan. Literally, everyone.

Yahoo’s lead college hoops scribe Pat Forde was tuned in. He tweeted “Isaiah Canaan is a bad man.” ESPN’s Dana O’Neil was watching, as she tweeted “Anyone still doubting talent of Murray St., please watch Isaiah Canaan right now and correct your opinion.” Jeff Goodman of CBSSports said “Isaiah Canaan owned this game when it mattered. Love this kid more and more every time I see him.” Seth Davis of SI.com was the most prolific Murray State tweeter, reeling off 14 Murray State related tweets during the game.

To get an idea of the kind of national attention Murray State commanded, think about this: their game was played at 8:00 pm, which happened to overlap the end of Duke’s trip to Virginia Tech and the start of a Pac-12 battle between UCLA and Washington and Florida hosting South Carolina. Care to venture how many times those four scribes commented on those three games?


And that right there is why this Murray State team and their run towards an undefeated regular season matters.

How good they are is irrelevant. Whether or not they are ranked too high or will end up overseeded on Selection Sunday is besides the point. Focusing on what’s wrong with this team completely ignores the fact that this group is everything that’s right about college basketball.

One day, if he’s lucky, Canaan may have a shot at making an NBA roster. Maybe. The rest of these guys will be lucky if they are able to carve out a career for themselves in a professional league in some obscure country in Europe. This team isn’t about draft standing. These aren’t McDonald’s all-americans that have spent the entirety of their adolescence under the microscope of talent evaluators nation wide.

This is a group of kids living out a dream season in front of our eyes.

Every time Murray State steps on the floor they will be playing a team in their biggest game of the season. They are going to get every opponent’s best shot. Win and you will be all over Sportscenter and written about on every college basketball outlet in the country. We saw that on Thursday as the Redhawks played one heckuva of a basketball game.

But Murray State, and the Canaan show, was simply too much. And you know what? It was great to watch. It was fun. Its what being a fan is all about.

Instead of complaining about what Murray State isn’t, we all need to sit back and appreciate what this team is.

An incredible story, one that is going to be must-see TV for the rest of the season.

Save your complaints for Selection Sunday, the only day they will actually matter. Until then, do like the rest of us — sit back and enjoy the show. Who knows when we will ever see one like it again.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Tennessee center Tamari Key out for season with blood clots

Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee senior center Tamari Key will miss the rest of this season because of blood clots in her lungs, coach Kellie Harper said.

Doctors found the issue during testing. Key is expected to make a full recovery after treatment from University of Tennessee doctors, Harper said, adding that her sole concern is Key getting the medical care she needs to heal and return to full strength.

Key missed the first game of her career in a win Tuesday night over Chattanooga after playing her first 99.

“This is much bigger than basketball. We are so grateful that this medical condition was caught,” Harper said in a statement. “Our entire program will be right beside Tamari during this process and welcomes prayers and positive thoughts from Lady Vol Nation and beyond.”

The Lady Vols opened the season ranked fifth but currently are 5-5.

The 6-foot-6 Key from Cary, North Carolina, currently is Tennessee’s third-leading scorer averaging 8.4 points a game and averaged 4.2 rebounds per game. She started all 34 games as the Lady Vols reached their first Sweet 16 since 2016 last season and set the school record with 119 blocked shots.

Key had 18 blocks this season and 295 for her career, five away from becoming the eighth woman to reach that mark in Southeastern Conference history.

No. 7 Tennessee beats Eastern Kentucky, win streak hits 7

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tyreke Key scored 10 of the first 12 points of the second half and finished with 17, and No. 7 Tennessee overcame a sluggish first half and beat Eastern Kentucky 84-49 on Wednesday night.

“Tyreke is handling the ball now,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “That’s all new to him. He keeps getting better.”

The Volunteers (8-1) struggled in the first half but still built an 11-point lead over Eastern Kentucky (4-5) on the way to their seventh straight victory.

Key led Tennessee in scoring before leaving with a cramp in his right leg with 6:15 left in the game. Julian Phillips had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Zakai Zeigler and Uros Plavsic added 13 points apiece. Olivier Nkamhoua scored 10.

“I’m still settling in,” said Key, a transfer from Indiana State who didn’t play last year while recovering from an injury. “This is a new role. I’m taking steps every day and keep learning.”

Eastern Kentucky, which came into the game averaging 83.5 points, was held well below that total due to 17% (6 for 35) shooting from long range and 22% (15 for 68) overall. Leland Walker led the Colonels with 13 points.

It was the seventh time this season Tennessee has held its opponent to 50 or fewer points.

“(Tennessee) is the best defensive team in the country,” Eastern Kentucky coach A.W. Hamilton said. “I think they’re the best team in the country.”

At one point in the first half, Tennessee was shooting 20% and still leading by 10 points. The teams combined to shoot 4 of 32 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. The Vols, who shot 24% (8 of 34), led 32-21 at the break.

“If we can’t make shots, can you find a way to win the game?” Barnes said. “When the shot’s not going in, find a way to play. The first thing we talk about is our defense.”

Tennessee shot 41 free throws. Phillips, a true freshman, was 7 of 10.

“(Phillips) has learned the pace of the game,” Barnes said. “I’m not sure there’s been a more effective freshman in the country (this season).”


Since its early season slip against Colorado, Tennessee has had a steady ascent in the rankings. The Vols’ next two games – neutral site (Brooklyn) against No, 13 Maryland (Dec. 11) and at No. 10 Arizona (Dec. 17) – will go a long way toward justifying the No. 7 ranking.


Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels’ run-and-gun style of offense had them averaging 83.5 points through their first eight games. They ran into a defensive buzz saw in Tennessee, which was yielding just over 51 points.

Tennessee: Santiago Vescovi sat out his second straight game with a shoulder problem. He is expected to be ready to play Sunday against Maryland. . The Vols have won seven in a row since their loss to Colorado.


Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels host Boyce College on Saturday.

Tennessee: Take on No. 13 Maryland on Sunday at the Hall of Fame Invitational in New York.

Hoggard scores career-high 23, Michigan State snaps 2-game skid

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Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A.J. Hoggard scored a career-high 23 points, Joey Hauser had 12 points and 15 rebounds and Michigan State beat Penn State 67-58 on Wednesday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

Michigan State (6-4, 1-1 Big Ten) avoided going .500 or worse after 10 games for the first time in 18 seasons.

Hoggard blocked an open layup with less than a minute to play and Hauser grabbed the rebound before being fouled and making two free throws at the other end for a 66-58 lead.

Hoggard, Hauser and Tyson Walker combined for 31 of Michigan State’s 32 second-half points.

The Michigan State defense allowed only one made field goal in the final five minutes. Penn State was just 1 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half after 7 of 18 before halftime.

Walker scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half for Michigan State. Hoggard, who entered third in the conference in assists at 6.3, had six rebounds, two assists and one key block.

Hoggard gave Michigan State 35-33 lead – its first since 4-2 – after back-to-back three-point plays with 59.3 seconds left in the first half. It was tied at 35-all at the break.

Seth Lundy scored 16 points and Jalen Pickett had 13 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists for Penn State (6-3, 0-1)

Michigan State hosts Brown on Saturday. Penn State, which hadn’t played since a double-overtime loss to Clemson on Nov. 29, plays at No. 17 Illinois on Saturday.

No. 7 Virginia Tech posts 9th straight win, beats Boston College 73-58

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BOSTON — Reigning Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Elizabeth Kitley had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Cayla King scored 16 on Wednesday night to lead No. 7 Virginia Tech to a 73-58 victory over Boston College, the Hokies’ ninth straight win.

Taylor Soule, one of two BC transfers on the roster for Virginia Tech (9-0, 1-0 ACC), added nine points and five rebounds. Soule scored more than 1,500 points and grabbed almost 700 rebounds in four seasons at BC, earning All-ACC honors three times.

Andrea Daley scored 15 points and Maria Gakdeng scored 14 for BC (7-4, 0-1). They each grabbed six rebounds.

Virginia Tech scored 17 of the game’s first 21 points and led by as many as 19 in the third quarter before BC cut the deficit to 10 in the fourth. Leading 64-54 with under three minutes left and the shot clock expiring, Kayana Traylor hit a 3-pointer for the Hokies.

Gakdeng missed two free throws for BC, and then Kitley scored from inside to make it a 15-point game.

Clara Ford, who also played four years in Chestnut Hill, pitched in 2 points in 2 minutes against her former team.


At No. 7, the Hokies have the highest ranking in the program’s history. With the victory over BC, a 10th straight win against North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday would leave Virginia Tech in position to move up even higher should a top five team falter.


Virginia Tech: Hosts North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday.

Boston College: Hosts Albany on Saturday.

Michigan’s Jaelin Llewellyn out for season with knee injury

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan point guard Jaelin Llewellyn is out for the rest of the season with an injured left knee and is expected to have surgery next month.

Wolverines coach Juwan Howard made the announcement three days after Llewellyn was hurt in a loss to Kentucky in London.

Llewellyn transferred to Michigan from Princeton last spring and that seemed to lead to Frankie Collins transferring to Arizona State after a solid freshman season for the Wolverines.

Llewellyn averaged seven points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in eight games at Michigan. He was an All-Ivy League player last season and averaged nearly 16 points over three seasons at Princeton.