The Murray State men's basketball team got their official first practice in Monday as they prepare for the coming 2018-19 season, the fourth season under head coach Matt McMahon
The Racers are coming off a splendid 2017-18 season where they were 26-6, won the program's 25th
Ohio Valley Conference regular season title and by taking the OVC Tournament, the Racers made their 16th
appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Racers return three starters including sophomore point guard Ja Morant
(Dalzell, S.C.) who was named All-OVC First Team and All-OVC Newcomer Team as a freshman. Morant started every one of the Racers' 32 games and was 15th nationally with 6.2 assists per game. Among NCAA D-I freshman, only Oklahoma's Trea Young was better with 8.7. Morant enters his sophomore season as the fifth returning scorer in the OVC at 12.7ppg, the eighth returning rebounder at 6.5rpg and the first returning assister at 6.3apg.
and Brion Sanchious
are seniors and give the Racers a total of three returning starters along with Morant. The Racers welcome seven new faces to the squad as well.
The Racers are coming off an impressive 2017-18 season that saw them win the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title and OVC Tournament title and appear in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012. McMahon the became the eighth-straight Racer coach to reach the NCAA Tournament.
MSU goes into the 2018-19 season trying to replace the big production they got from graduated seniors Jonathan Stark
(OVC Player of the Year) 21.4ppg and Terrell Miller (All-OVC First Team) 15.1ppg. Their combined 1,168 points represented 46 percent of the team's scoring. Replacing that won't be easy, but the Racers believe they have the pieces necessary to once again battle for the top spot in the OVC.
The 2018-19 season is the 21st for the Racers in the CFSB Center. Formerly known as the Regional Special Events Center, the arena opened in the fall of 1998. Just like they did for 48 years at Racer Arena, MSU has enjoyed a home winning percentage at "The Bank". Last season they were 14-2 at home and carry a winning streak of nine in a row into the 2018-19 season. MSU didn't lose an OVC game at home last season and their last loss was to Auburn (Dec. 19). Coming into the 2018-19 season, MSU is 245-44 (.847) overall and 146-27 (. 843) in OVC games. Their non-conference mark is 99-17 (.853).
The Racers have led the OVC in scoring average in the last two seasons. In 2016-17, they scored 80.0 points per game, while Morehead State was at 79.0. Then last season in 2018-19 MSU led the OVC at 78.6, just ahead of Belmont at 77.6. Having Jonathan Stark
on the floor certainly made that happen, as he led the league in scoring in both seasons.
There are several preseason events for fans to keep in mind and put on their calendars. Oct. 18 is Racer Mania, where fans can interact with both MSU basketball teams at the CFSB Center. Members of the OVC gather in Evansville (Oct. 23) for media day activities and the Racers take to the floor for an exhibition game (Nov. 5) against Brescia. The Racers' season opener is at home against Wright State (Nov. 10).