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No. 21 Murray State takes spotless OVC record to UT Martin

No. 21 Murray State will look to extend its winning streak to 16 games Saturday when the Racers visit UT Martin in an Ohio Valley Conference game in Martin, Tenn.

The Racers (25-2, 15-0 OVC) are seeking their eighth straight win over the Skyhawks (8-19, 4-11), who have lost four straight and 11 of their past 13 contests, including a 74-66 setback at Murray State on Jan. 22.

Murray State is coming off a 91-56 win over visiting Austin Peay on Thursday. The Racers jumped out to a 23-5 lead in less than 10 minutes and never looked back. The Racers led by as many as 36 points in the second half.

KJ Williams scored a game-high 25 points on 12-of-15 shooting to lead six Racers in double figures. Tevin Brown scored 13 points, while DaQuan Smith, DJ Burns and Justice Hill all scored 11 and Trae Hannibal added 10 points. Williams and Nicholas McMullen each grabbed a game-high seven rebounds, with Hill adding a game-high six assists.

Murray State is among just three teams nationally that are undefeated in conference play, along with No. 1 Gonzaga (West Coast) and South Dakota State (Summit).

But Murray State isn't looking past the Skyhawks, who trailed by three with 17 minutes left the last time these teams met before the Racers finished the victory behind Williams' 33 points and 15 rebounds.

"We just try to stay focused, win the week and go 1-0 every day," said Smith. "We come out and play hard every game and we have that chip on our shoulder."

Williams averages team-highs in points (17.7), rebounds (8.6) and steals (1.6), while Brown averages 16.4 points and Hill chips in 13.4 points to go with a team-high 5.1 assists.

UT Martin is coming off a 68-60 loss to visiting and defending OVC champion Morehead State (20-8, 12-3) on Wednesday. The Skyhawks led by as many as 10 points in the first half but were outscored 17-4 down the stretch.

KK Curry came off the bench and tied a career-high with 24 points on 10-for-18 shooting for UT Martin. KJ Simon, who averages a team-high 16.3 points to go with 4.7 rebounds, was held to eight points on 3-for-14 shooting and just two rebounds.

"I thought for the first 36 minutes we played really well," Skyhawks coach Ryan Ridder said. "Morehead State is a team that's played in March Madness for a reason. In the last four minutes, our guys tried to compete but were still searching for a way to win and Morehead State has guys who have done it before together.

"I thought we played extremely hard and gave ourselves a chance to win -- that's what you ask for in conference games."

--Field Level Media

Updated February 18, 2022

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