LOUISVILLE -- Murray State was downright ordinary in the first 20 minutes against a Colorado State team that was fortunate just to get into the NCAA tournament. The Racers trailed by a point, appeared lethargic and were being dominated on the glass and in the energy department.
The second half was a different story as the Racers used their pressure defense to fuel their offense.
Overall, Steve Prohm's team was just 5-of-17 from beyond the arc and 13-of-26 from the free throw line. This coming from a team that shot nearly 41 percent from deep and 73 percent from the line in 31 games this season.
"To get a win when we didn't play well offensively, that's always good," Murray State star guard Isaiah Canaan said after the 58-41 win. "But we tried to turn our defense into offense."
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Murray State earned the victory -- largely based on what the Racers did in the regular-season. If Prohm's team had received a double-digit seed and played this way against one of the top teams in the country, these guys would have been one-and-done. But thanks to a 30-1 record coming into the game, the Racers earned a No. 6 seed -- which drew a bubble team in No. 11 Colorado State .
Canaan was just 4-of-13 from the field in the win. Big man Ivan Aska was 1-of-7. It wasn't the type of performance that will instill fear into anyone that was watching, but the Racers got rid of nerves in the victory and also pulled out the win despite a sub-par shooting performance.
"Isaiah missed shots he makes," Prohm said. "And they were tough to play against for us."
That's because Colorado State controlled the tempo in the first half, not allowing Murray to get out in transition and utilize its advantage athletically. The Rams packed it in at times -- and the Racers were unable to make shots and make them pay. Now up for Murray is the winner of the Marquette-BYU contest. A win on Saturday would give the school it's first-ever Sweet 16 appearance.
Prohm, Canaan and the rest of the team understand the Racers can't shoot 39 percent from the field and 29 percent from 3-point range and expect to get another victory in the Big Dance.
"We'll need to play better on Saturday," Prohm admitted. "For 40 minutes."
But Murray State earned the right to have an off-night and still come up with the win on Thursday afternoon.