MURRAY, Ky. (Nov. 15, 2010) - Suffering through its worst offensive output in well over a decade, the ETSU men's basketball team was unable to upend one of best mid-major programs in the country Monday night, as the Murray State Racers took a defensive battle 50-39 inside the CFSB Center.
The Bucs' 39 points was the lowest offensive output for an ETSU team since falling 54-40 to Tennessee during the 1996-97 season.
"Defensively we'd take that every game," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team dropped to 0-2 on the year. "If you told me before the game that we would hold them to 50, I would say we win by 15. On the other end, though, you couldn't have scripted it worse. I need to do a better job getting us in the right sets and running the right stuff, but it's also hard to overcome 25 turnovers."
Indeed, while the offense was struggling, the ETSU defense was a bright spot. The Bucs held what has been a traditionally strong shooting team to a 37.8 percent clip for the game, outrebounding the Racers 39-30, and forcing 16 turnovers. However, the Bucs were equally bad offensively, shooting just 33 percent from the floor, 10 percent from 3-point range, and committing 25 turnovers.
In the first half, ETSU attempted a 3-2 zone to stymie the Murray State offense, and the plan worked as the Racers managed just four points over the first 12 minutes of game play. However, the Bucs were not exactly efficient on the offensive end either and only led 10-4 at that point.
The offensive issues ultimately cost the Bucs, as the Racers woke up and managed a 12-0 run over a two-minute stretch to build a 16-10 advantage with just over five minutes left in the half. Senior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) finally ended the Bucs drought - which lasted from the 9:40 mark to the 4:58 point of the half - with a lay up to make it 16-13. Both teams basically traded baskets the rest of the way and Murray State led 22-17 at the break.
Despite holding the Racers to 25 percent shooting in the first half, the Bucs only managed a 32 percent clip and turned the ball over 14 times. ETSU also did not hit a 3-point shot in the half and was outrebounded 20-16.
The Bucs were no better offensively in the second half, scoring just 11 points during the first 12 minutes of play and trailing 40-28 with eight minutes left in the game.
ETSU's scoring troubles were most evident when Murray State's Isacc Miles committed a technical foul with just over four minutes left in the game and the Bucs trailing 46-32. With a chance to have as much as a five-point swing, senior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) missed both foul shots and the Bucs came up empty with the possession that followed.
Smith finished with a quiet double-double thanks to 10 points and 10 boards to lead the ETSU attack. Meanwhile, Murray State's B.J. Jenkins had 14 points and Donte Poole added 10 to power the Racers.
The Bucs will return to action on Saturday during Homecoming, as they will meet Tennessee Tech at 4 p.m. inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. For more on ETSU men's basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's basketball link.