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Murray State locks up first NCAA Tournament bid of 2018

The Murray State Racers have secured their bid to the 2018 NCAA Tournament with their 68-51 win over the Belmont Bruins in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship.

Murray State jumped out to an early 14-2 lead, before letting Belmont catch up to them for the last seven minutes of the first half. The second half saw the game stay competitive for a large chunk of time, before the Racers were able to run away with the game. The Racers claimed their fourth OVC Tournament Championship of the 21st century with their win.

Their defense was able to shut down Belmont, holding them to 51 points. Only two players were able to get to double digit scoring for the Bruins, Kevin McClain (17) and Dylan Windler (10). The good defensive effort was highlighted by the Racers holding the Bruins to 21% from behind the three point line, which is 17% below their season average.

Senior Jonathan Stark led the Racers with 24 points. He was aided by freshman Ja Morant, who chipped in with 15 points and five assists.

This is the Racers’ first trip to the big dance since the 2012 Tournament, when the team went 31-2. That team ended up losing in the round of 32 to Marquette, ending the best season in school history.

Head Coach Matt McMahon is taking his team to the NCAA Tournament in only his third year at the school. He has posted a 58-36 record during his time at Murray State, which is his first job as the lead man.

Murray State is one of 32 teams that will make it to the 2018 NCAA Tournament as an automatic bid, via winning their conference tournament. The Racers will have to wait for just over a week to find out who and where they will play in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

 

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