Redhawks suffer first OVC loss in lopsided fashion

Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Southeast Missouri State's Roderick Pearson drove past Murray State's Kevin Thomas during the first half Monday at the Show Me Center. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

Southeast mensuffer 28-point loss to Murray State.

The Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team drew its largest home crowd of the season Monday night.

Not many of the announced 4,023 fans at the Show Me Center stuck around until the end.

That's because the Redhawks' perfect Ohio Valley Conference record was on its way to blowing up in most decisive fashion.

Archrival Murray State laid a massive whipping on the Redhawks, romping 79-51 to hand Southeast its largest margin of defeat ever at the Show Me Center, which opened for play during the 1987-88 season.

Southeast Missouri State's Roderick Pearson was fouled on a shot by Murray State's Kevin Thomas during the first half Monday at the Show Me Center. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

"It was very disappointing," sophomore guard Marcus Rhodes said. "I just believe they outplayed us tonight.

"We were ready, but they just attacked us from the jump."

Southeast (11-6, 6-1) entered the night atop the OVC standings as the Redhawks looked to tie the program's best-ever OVC start, 7-0 by the 1998-99 squad.

But the Racers (7-7, 4-3) ruined the party as they continued their road domination of the Redhawks.

Murray State has won 14 of the past 15 games played at the Show Me Center. Last year, the teams split decisive victories on the other's court.

Southeast 's Jaycen Herring looked for an opening in the Murray State defense.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think, the way we were playing, somebody would come in and beat us the way they did," Southeast coach Scott Edgar said. "They played outstanding basketball from front to finish in all three phases -- offense, defense and transition."

More hype surrounded Monday's contest than for any Southeast men's basketball game in several years.

But the Redhawks said nerves didn't get the best of them -- just poor shooting and a strong performance by the Racers.

"I think we were ready, I just think it wasn't our night tonight," senior guard David Johnson said. "We missed a lot of shots we usually make, and our defense wasn't like it usually is."

Southeast shot a season-low 25 percent from the field overall (15-of-60) and hit just 5-of-21 from 3-point range (23.8 percent).

On the other end, Murray State shot 45.5 percent against the OVC's No. 1 field-goal percentage defense during conference play (40.2 before Monday).

"They were making a lot of tough shots. I give them credit," senior forward Brandon Foust said. "And we missed a lot of easy shots around the basket."

Take away the 6-of-10 shooting by Rhodes -- who scored a season-high 15 points -- and the rest of the Redhawks shot 18 percent (9-of-50).

"Our defense kept us in the game the first 30 minutes. Our offense is what beat us tonight," Edgar said. "We have not shot the ball well lately."

Murray State hit its first three 3-point attempts and jumped out to an 11-0 lead. The Racers only briefly were threatened after that.

Southeast missed its first 13 field-goal attempts and fell behind 17-2.

The Redhawks pulled to within 30-25 late in the opening period, but Murray State led 37-27 at halftime.

Southeast scored the first four points of the second half to briefly excite the crowd.

But the Racers answered with a 14-4 run to go up 51-35, and that was the game.

Southeast never cut the deficit to single digits as the Racers kept widening their lead down the stretch. Senior guard Bruce Carter led the visitors with 22 points.

"We limited them defensively and we made shots," Murray State coach Billy Kennedy said.

Foust added 10 points and 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double in the past five games.

Foust, who earlier in the day was named the co-OVC player of the week after averaging 16.5 points and 11 rebounds in two games last week, said the Redhawks appreciated the fan support and hope people aren't discouraged.

"We're happy everybody came out," he said. "Hopefully everybody keeps coming out. We'll get a lot more wins."

After all, it's likely the Redhawks would have been overjoyed if before the season they had been assured of going 6-1 to start their OVC schedule.

"We're excited that we went this far without a loss," Johnson said. "We can't get down because we lost one game."

Added Edgar, whose squad visits defending OVC champion and current first-place squad Austin Peay on Saturday: "I'm disappointed, but I'm not discouraged."

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