|Isaiah Canaan's superb play, for once, wasn't enough. (AP)|
By Matt Norlander
College basketball needed 94 days, but just as it’s happened every time for the past 36 years, there will be no undefeated team in the sport this season. Everyone finishes with a flaw. Murray State, surprisingly, earned its first flaw by falling on its home floor to Ohio Valley foe Tennessee State Thursday night, 72-68.
Tennessee State’s actually putting a nice run together; it's now won six straight, the longest streak of its season. Before tonight, third-year Tigers coach John Cooper had faced Murray State five times. His record: 0-5 with an average losing margin of 19.2 points. Yes. Unexpected. The last win for the Tigers over the Racers came on Valentine's Day in 2008.
The Racers were done in by two things, specifically: three turnovers in the final 12 seconds and eagerness to create T-shirts that boasted of the team's accomplishments. They had their chances Thursday night, though. In fact, the Steve Prohm's team should have won, stumbles and falls and all. Tennessee State, a team not particularly outstanding in any major statistical category, had a season-high 15 steals tonight. Racers star Isaiah Canaan scored 31, but his teammates combined for the other 37 points on 13-of-37 shooting, 3-of-13 from 3-point range.
There’s a slow and undeniable crank to any team’s season that gets to February without a scratch. When that team’s a mid-major unaccustomed to the spotlight and national attention, the vice squeezes even harder. Without knowing how the Murray State bus rides and locker room and practice sessions have been the past two or three weeks, it's fair to spice in that assumption as to why the run ended the way it did.
The real let-down here is that Murray State doesn’t get to face Saint Mary’s in BracketBusters without a loss. If it had, that game would’ve been the highlight of next Saturday’s slate. Now, it’s an intriguing game but certainly not the marquee.This is how Murray State's perfection came undone. Thanks to RunTheFloor.com for getting the quick video.
We still love you, Racers fans.