Blog Entry

Murray State could really go undefeated

Posted on: December 12, 2011 1:19 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 11:23 am
By Gary Parrish

MEMPHIS -- Back before the season started, well before Murray State had won a single game or received any votes in a Top 25 poll, Steve Prohm sat down with each of his players individually for what amounted to a question-and-answer session. He asked them all sorts of things about themselves, their teammates and the team in general. And at one point the first-year coach wondered what senior Jewuan Long expected the Racers to accomplish this year.

"I told him if we execute in every game like we're supposed to and do what we're supposed to do, there's no team on that schedule we can't beat," Long said. "[I told him] I wouldn't be surprised at all [if we go undefeated in the regular season]."

And Prohm's response?

"He just went on to the next question," Long answered with a smile.

But there's no way for Prohm to avoid the undefeated conversation now, is there?

Murray State built a double-digit lead in the first half, squandered it, then built another and held off a late Memphis rally Sunday to beat the 21st-ranked Tigers 76-72 here at FedExForum. So the Racers are 10-0, ranked 24th in the Top 25 (and one) and -- just as Long kinda predicted months ago -- well on their way to becoming the first Division I men's basketball team to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated since UNLV did it in 1991.

And that's not hyperbole.

It really could happen because the Racers are really good. And because they play in the Ohio Valley Conference. Which means their toughest games are in their rearview mirror. For proof, consider that -- barring injury, academic casualty or suspension -- Murray State figures to be favored in every game it plays the rest of this regular season. That doesn't mean the Racers will win every game, of course. Favorites lose all the time. (You saw Kentucky on Saturday, right?) But the fact remains that when Murray State takes the court the rest of the way -- both for home games and away games -- the Racers will be expected to win those 40-minutes of scheduled basketball, and there's not another team in the country that we can say that about.

Not bad for a rookie coach of a team picked third in the preseason OVC poll, huh?

"Life is good," Prohm replied when asked what he would've said in the preseason if somebody told him he'd be, on a Sunday night in December, 10-0 and coming off a win over a Memphis team that was ranked ninth in the preseason coaches poll.  Which means, right now, life is good for the man who was promoted to head coach last May when Billy Kennedy left for Texas A&M.

"It's a huge win but we've got to keep everything in perspective," Prohm said. "It's still just 10 games."

But, again, it's the toughest set of 10 the Racers will play. They already own wins over three Conference USA schools (Memphis, UAB and Southern Miss) in addition to a 17-point victory over the Dayton team that just beat 16th-ranked Alabama by 12 points. Yes, Murray State still has two games against preseason OVC favorite Austin Peay, which just won at Tennessee. But there's not a game left on the schedule that'll present anything close to the kind of challenge Memphis and its home crowd and all those athletes presented Sunday.

And Murray State handled that well.

The Racers almost led from start to finish.

They were up 11 with less than two minutes remaining.

It was a defining win for the school, the team and the coach.

"But this can't be the pinnacle," Prohm said. "We want a lot more."

21 more, to be exact.

That's how many more games Murray State will play before Selection Sunday.

And every one of them seems very winnable.

Since: Feb 6, 2010
Posted on: December 12, 2011 11:58 pm

Murray State could really go undefeated

Great article! I wish they had some tough non- conference games during the year to keep them challenged for the NCAA tournament. Going undefeated isn't that important.Going deep in March is. Keep your eye on the prize!

Since: Feb 27, 2007
Posted on: December 12, 2011 2:16 pm

Murray State could really go undefeated

Might want to check your sources there. St. Joe's lost in the A10 tournament that year.

Since: Mar 10, 2011
Posted on: December 12, 2011 12:54 pm

Murray State could really go undefeated

"on their way to becoming the first Division I men's basketball team to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated since UNLV did it in 1991"

Phil Martelli would like to have a word with you...

Since: Mar 18, 2007
Posted on: December 12, 2011 9:39 am

Murray State could really go undefeated

Those comments make perfect sense.

THe point is that Murray St will get a chance, unlike Boise St in football.

That is because CBB is fair, and CFB is anything but fair.

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: December 12, 2011 8:25 am

Murray State could really go undefeated

Hey, nesman.....this ain't college football, it's college basketball....where even the best teams have to play 6 games to win a championship.  Your comment makes absolutely no sense.

Since: Dec 7, 2008
Posted on: December 12, 2011 5:20 am

Murray State could really go undefeated

If this was college football, we'd been hearing about how "soft" their schedule is and they would never got a shot at playing for a national championship. Luckily, this is a much more sane atmosphere and they will get their shot come tournament time :)

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