Murray State (1-0) vs. Auburn (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 15, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: TD Arena (5,100) -- Charleston, South Carolina. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Murray State 1-0, Auburn 1-0. Away Record: Murray State 0-0, Auburn 0-0. Neutral Record: Murray State 0-0, Auburn 0-0. Conference Record: Murray State 0-0, Auburn 0-0. Series Record: Auburn leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Murray State Racers face a difficult early season test as they try to tame the Auburn Tigers in the first round of the Charleston Classic at TD Arena.
The Charleston Classic is an eight-team tournament hosted by the College of Charleston. Whichever team survives this matchup will play the winner of the preceding contest between the hosting Cougars and St. John's.
Steve Prohm set the bar high in his first season as a head coach by leading MSU to a 31-2 overall record, the best start in school history, and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Racers took the first step towards repeating that success on Friday with an 88-43 demolition of Brescia. Murray State was too much for its NAIA opponent as it shot 49.2 percent from the floor and limited the Bearcats to only seven made field goals in the final 20 minutes of the contest. Isaiah Canaan led the team through an in-season tourney last year by scoring 36 points in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout to propel the Racers past Southern Miss.
The Tigers are also 1-0 after their defensive powered, come-from-behind 61-50 victory over IUPU-Fort Wayne on Friday. Auburn held the Mastodons to 28.8 percent shooting from the field and just 23 second half points. Coach Tony Barbee was not happy with his squad's early carelessness which led to 11 first half turnovers, but it picked it up after the intermission. Like their counterpart, the Tigers have a player in their backcourt with tremendous scoring ability in Frankie Sullivan.
Murray State is 0-2 all-time versus Auburn and 9-22 versus SEC opponents. The Tigers' latest victory over the Racers came in 2002.
Despite playing at an Ohio Valley Conference school, Canaan built a nationwide following while pacing MSU last season. The shifty guard handles the ball, passes, and most predominately scores at will. Canaan netted only 11 points in the team's opening win, but expect him to turn it up a notch against fiercer competition. Senior forward Stacy Wilson scored a team-best 21 points on 50 percent shooting from the field in the season opener, while Ed Daniel provided 15 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks from the forward position. Freshman guard C.J. Ford could play significant time with Canaan to give opposing defenses a different look. UAB transfer Dexter Fields joined the program after netting 7.1 ppg for the Blazers in 2010-2011. He made only one of his six field goal attempts in his MSU debut, but the high-energy guard made plenty of plays to contribute.
Auburn was guided to its season-opening win by Sullivan's 26-point performance which came courtesy of an 11-of-20 field goal shooting clip. The senior guard led the team last season with 12.6 points and 2.3 assists per contest. Rob Chubb is a strong interior player for Barbee. The senior center had a blue collar double-double with 10 points and a career-high 15 boards versus IPFW. Forward Allen Payne had a nice season opener as well with 12 points and seven rebounds.
These squads have a similar makeup with offenses that revolve around electrifying guards. Canaan and Sullivan will go head-to-head throughout this one. The team that gets the most out of its supporting cast will be in great position to advance into the winner's bracket.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Murray State 78, Auburn 73
11/15 10:34:08 ET