MURRAY, Ky. --- In a game of the teams picked to finish first and second in the 2005 Ohio Valley Conference men's basketball race, it was the team chosen to win which came on top in round one as host Murray State defeated the Tennessee State Tigers 82-74 Saturday night.
Murray State finished ahead of the upstart Tiger program in the preseason poll. The Racers continued their recent streak of consistent basketball, to snap the Tigers' three-game OVC winning streak. MSU placed four starters in double figures, led by the backcourt duo of Trey Pearson and Keith Jennifer who scored 17 points each.
TSU had led past the mid-way point of the first half, but the Racers erased a Tiger 24-20 lead to take the lead for good following a Pearson 3-pointer at 29-26 at the 7:53 mark. MSU would build a 44-34 halftime lead.
In the second half, MSU would lead by as many as 14 points before the Tigers were able to cut the advantage to five points on a pair of occasions, the last at 79-74 with 14 seconds left in the game.
"We made some bad decisions when we were trying to come back, but hopefully we can learn from them and get healthy where Rod Flowers and Wayne Arnold are at 100 percent," said TSU coach Cy Alexander. "Our intensity was too passive in the first half."
Kareem Grant got off to a fast start for the Tigers and led in scoring with 17 points, 11 coming in the first half. Bruce Price scored 14 and Eric King added 12 points and had a team-high nine rebounds.
The Tigers finished the game shooting 46 percent (28-61) from the field. The Racers shot an even 50 percent (28-56). The Tigers held a 35-34 rebounding advantage.
The Tigers will be on the road Thursday at Austin Peay.