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Murray State Races Past Cougars in Second Half

MURRAY, Ky. - Murray State University used a strong second half to get past Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 71-46 Thursday in men's basketball at the CFSB Center on the Murray State campus.

The win was the 24th consecutive at home for the Racers, 9-4. Their streak is the fifth-longest home court winning streak in the country.

SIUE, which fell to 4-12 with the loss, snapped a two-game winning streak.

"They're a very good team," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "We should have competed better against a good team like that."

The Racers led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but the Cougars finished the period strong. SIUE scored the final five points in the half, capped by a LeShaun Murphy three-point basket with 29 seconds to go before intermission, and trailed 31-26 at the break.

"I didn't really feel like we had momentum (at the half), because we weren't playing aggressively," Forrester added.

Murray State pulled away after the break. The Racers used a 16-2 run over the first five minutes of the half to build the lead to 47-28.

The closest the Cougars would get after that point was 15 at 47-32. Murray State outrebounded SIUE 41-29 overall and forced the Cougars into 13 turnovers.

The Racers held a decided advantage at the free throw line as well. They were 24 of 35 from the line, while the Cougars were 10 of 18. SIUE attempted just two free throws in the first half.

Murphy scored 11 points to lead the Cougars in scoring, becoming the ninth different player to do so this season. Michael Messer and Nikola Bundalo joined Murphy in double figures with 10 points apiece. Messer also paced the Cougars with six rebounds.

Ivan Aska led three Racers in double figures Thursday night. Aska scored 13 points to lead Murray State. B.J. Jenkins and Shawn Jackson each scored 12.

The Cougars will wrap up their longest road swing of the year (six games) when they travel to Muncie, Ind., to take on Ball State Monday night. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT.

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