Murray State upends No. 24 Texas A&M 88-79

CONWAY, SC (Nov. 17, 2022) – In horseracing it is called a frontrunner. A horse that charges out of the gate, leads for much of the race, then fades near the end and inevitably gets caught.

In Thursday’s opening round of the Myrtle Beach Invitational, the Murray State Racers exhibited all the characteristics of a frontrunner, except for that getting caught part. Instead, the Racers held off a furious second-half rally by No. 24 Texas A&M, and held on for an 88-79 victory. It was Murray State’s first victory over a team ranked in the AP Top 25 since 2012.

The Racers (2-1) scored the game’s first five points and never trailed. They held a 15-6 lead after less than six minutes, were up 35-28 at halftime, then opened the second half with a 16-8 run over the first five minutes to extend their advantage to 51-36.

As the teams made the turn into the game’s final 10 minutes, the Racers still held a double-digit lead at 60-50. But two Murray State turnovers and two Texas A&M 3-pointers within one minute of playing time suddenly sliced the lead all the way down to a single basket at 60-58.

Instead of fading down the stretch, however, the Racers found a finishing gear. They answered A&M’s run with eight consecutive points of their own, and maintained at least a five-point edge the rest of the way.

“When they cut it to 60-58, our guys showed a lot of toughness and character,” Murray State coach Steve Prohm said. “They stayed calm. There wasn’t a lot of complaining. They were just focused. That’s the biggest thing you want to see as a coach. Can you keep your composure? Can you stay even-keeled and continue to just exuded confidence?”

It was a true team effort by the Racers, who had four players score in double figures (led by Jacobi Wood with 23 points) and three players grab six rebounds each.

“Our team showed tremendous character,” said Murray State guard Rob Perry, who had 12 points and six boards. “We knew they were going to come back hard, but we had to do our thing on the defensive end and just have more toughness. We bought into that and handled it well.”

Tyrece Radford led A&M (2-1) with 19 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals. But as a team, the Aggies went 27-of-71 from the field (38 percent) and 6-of-27 from 3-point range (22.2 percent).

“They had more energy from start to finish, particularly in the first 10 minutes,” A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “We were trying to get our footing, but never really did. In many respects that was the difference in the game. We have to do a better job of having energy from start to finish.”