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This is the time of year when being a college athlete sucks. While the rest of your peers (the ones who actually are there for an education) are at home, hanging out with friends or family, you are preparing for either a meaningless bowl game or an inconsequential basketball game that no one will watch.  

Your nerves are shot as you wait for confirmation that the papers your tutors wrote will keep you eligible for at least another semester (or in the case of Notre Dame athletes, you hope your instructors ignore your blatant cheating. Seriously, ND can cover up rapes but not simple cheating on exams? Stir up those echoes that kept barely literate players like Tony Rice and Chris Zorich in school, Irish!).

Put yourself in Matt Kavanaugh’s shoes. After sitting out a year and graduating this month, how hard is it to wake up for a practice on a chilly December morning knowing you are now relegated to walk-on status? I have to hand it to Boof, if I already had my diploma in hand, and was basically on the scout team,  I’d be in Mexico right now, running from my past, shooting off bottle-rockets at burros and praying the townsfolk haven’t heard of Google yet. But Kav is gonna see this thing through, right to the bitter end. God bless you, Kavanaugh, you incorrigible beast. You won’t take no for an answer.

Murray State comes to Arena on Sunday afternoon, and Kav will have one of the best seats in the house.

Overview

There was a time when a win over Murray State would be an asset on your resume come March. This is not that time. The Racers are no longer a low-major with some juice, they are just another opponent paid to take a (supposed) beating at the Arena. Murray State enters the game with a 5-6 record on the season, two of those wins were at the mercy of non-D1 competition.

Plainly stated, the Racers are undersized and inexperienced. Murray State has just one starter returning from last season’s squad — which included a senior class that won 106 games over the previous four years. Head coach Steve Prohm is in the process of knocking the whole thing down and essentially starting from scratch. The Racers 26 winning season streak is in serious jeopardy.

Murray State fields a shallow roster, essentially going eight deep on most nights. An undersized unit, their tallest player coming in at just 6’8″, the Racers get beat on the boards like an Italian housewife. Murray State is careless with the basketball and suffers from gingivitis. The one thing this club does at an above-average clip is hit threes, the Racers are hitting around 38% from deep this season.

This is the final game in the 2-for-1 series between the two teams. The programs have split their prior two meetings, each team getting a win on their home floor.

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Meet and Greet

Murray State features a balanced offensive attack led by JUCO Jarvis Williams (13.3 ppg/10.5 rpg) and Cameron Payne (13.0 ppg/5.5 apg). Williams is a freak athlete who makes the overwhelming amount of his plays around the basket. Payne, a freshman, was Mr. Basketball in the state of Tennessee last season.

Last season’s sixth man, Jeffrey Moss (11.7 ppg/3.3 rpg) and returning starter Dexter Fields (10.6 ppg/3.5 rpg) are the Racers’ other double-digit scorers. Moss is an excellent three-point shooter, connecting on 43%, and Fields isn’t far behind at 36%. Fields is the team’s lone senior, a transfer from UAB.

Clemson transfer T.J. Sapp is now eligible and is already a major contributor in his first two games, scoring a combined 40 points over that span. Sapp is red-hot from outside, connecting on seven of his nine three-point attempts thus far (he has also hit all eleven of his free-throws). Sapp is a combo-wing who will likely gain minutes as the season progresses.

Tyler Rambo (7.6 ppg/2.5 rpg) has an awesome name. Jonathan Fairell (6.7 ppg/4.6 rpg) and CJ Ford (3.6 ppg) round out the Racer bench.

Numbers Game

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Prediction

If Murray keeps this close, we got problems, people. YA BOY Ken Pomeroy has UD winning this one by around 16 points. I’m not that bullish, UD has a tendency to sleepwalk through these type of games, but I’ll call it 82-73 Flyers anyway. Dayton collects their tenth win and head into Dixie with some momentum.