Conference favorite Racers remain hot

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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The men’s basketball team boasts the only 4-0 OVC record and are currently in first place in the OVC’s West division.

That division consists of three teams with winning records, including Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, who is 7-8 overall and 3-1 in the OVC.

Another unbeaten team from the West is perennial conference powerhouse Murray State, who has won the division in the first two years of divisional play.

The Racers are currently 12-4 overall and are winners of its last ten games, heading into action Sunday night at Jacksonville State.

The game was televised on the CBS Sports Network. The Panthers will host Murray State at 8 p.m., Jan. 22 at Lantz Arena, and the game will also be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

The Racers received 15 of 24 OVC first place votes by the conferences’ coaches and sports information directors, and also received 22 of 24 first place votes for the West division.

Sophomore guard Cameron Payne was named the preseason OVC Player of the Year and is the first sophomore to earn that recognition since the 1993-94 season, when the award was first handed out.

He averaged 16.8 points and 5.4 assists per game last season.

Two-time regular season champion Belmont was predicted as the East division champion.

Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour said despite Saturday’s victory his team needs to stay grounded on their current goals.

“We want to finish above .500 and I think it’s important that our team keeps grounded on what we need to do,” Spoonhour said. “You want to set attainable goals, but I don’t want to put a ceiling on it.”

Spoonhour also said the road ahead will be difficult for the Panthers, who are off to their first-ever 4-0 OVC start.

“This is going to be really hard coming up,” Spoonhour said. “There’s nobody that’s going to go into Morehead or Eastern Kentucky and come out with easy wins. I want them to think we’re going to win, but I know it’s going to be tough.”

Eastern Kentucky, who the Panthers will play on the road next Thursday, are currently in first place in the East division with a 10-5 overall and 2-0 OVC record.

One of those wins included a 28-point victory over Atlantic Coast Conference member Miami.

Morehead State, Saturday’s opponent, is 6-12 overall and 1-2 in OVC action.


Blake Nash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].