MURRAY, Kentucky – Murray State connected on 56 percent of its shots Saturday on its way to an 87-63 win over SIUE in Ohio Valley Conference men's basketball at the CFSB Center.
The Racers were 28-50 from the field and went 10-19 (52.6 percent) from three-point range in improving to 10-3 overall and 2-0 in the OVC.
"That's a good team," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. "They got the ball moving."
The Racers scored 30 points in the paint, including 18 in the second half.
"Our defense is not where it needs to be and that's something that we have to get corrected quickly," Harris added.
The Cougars, 4-9 overall and 0-2 in the OVC, went 20-58 (34.5 percent) from the field and collected just nine field goals in the second half.
SIUE matched Murray State with five first-half three-pointers and trailed 43-34 at halftime.
The Racers got five points from Jonathan Stark and three points from Terrell Miller, Jr. and pushed their lead to 15 (51-36) just 2:05 into the second half.
"We have to put it all together," Harris said. "We did some good things in the first half."
Stark, the OVC pre-season player of the year, hit back-to-back three-pointers to push the lead out to 17 (59-42) with 14:47 to play. The Racers scored eight of the next 11 points and led 67-45 after two free throws from Stark with 10:11 left.
"Our mentality is not what it needs to be," Harris said. "When we're not making shots at a high level, our defense is not as intense and our communication is not there. It has got to be the other way around. If you're not making shots you have to defend that much harder and that much more aggressively."
Stark led all scorers with 27 points. He was 7-10 from the field, including 5-7 from three-point range and a perfect 8-8 at the free throw line.
Brandon Jackson tied his career high with 12 points. He led the Cougars with six rebounds.
"He is gaining confidence on the offensive end," Harris said of Jackson. "Brandon is a very capable guy and he's growing. We have to keep him pushing forward and bring everyone else along with him."
Daniel Kinchen led the Cougars with 13 points, 11 of which came in the first half.
Jalen Henry returned to the lineup after missing SIUE's OVC opener Thursday with an ankle injury. Henry scored 10 points and added five rebounds and two blocked shots.
"Obviously (Jalen) is a little rusty," Harris said. "It's good to see him moving. Hopefully we can get him fully healthy this week."
The Cougars now have four days between games; returning to the road for two games next week. SIUE will play at Eastern Kentucky Thursday and Morehead State Saturday.
"It gives us an opportunity to clean some things up," Harris said. "We have to find a way to be better. We have two more road games and that's two more opportunities ahead of us."