GAME NOTES: The Pacific Tigers and the Murray State Racers will clash in the second CollegeInsiders.com Tournament semifinal contest at CFSB Center on Tuesday.
The winner of this game will advance to the tournament's championship game and take on either Yale and VMI.
Pacific made it past Grand Canyon and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the first two rounds of the CIT, then easily took down San Diego, 75-60, in the quarterfinal round of the tournament.
Since dropping its semifinal round Ohio Valley Conference Tournament contest to Eastern Kentucky, Murray State has been on fire in the CIT. The Racers defeated Missouri State and Nebraska Omaha in the first two rounds, then beat a talented Towson team, 85-73, in the quarterfinals.
This meeting between Pacific and Murray State will mark the second time in history these teams have met on the court, with the Racers holing the 1-0 advantage.
Pacific played a solid all-around game against San Diego last Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the CIT. The Tigers held a 32-24 advantage at the end of the first half, and continued to pile onto that lead as the game went on. Andrew Bock paced the team with 23 points, adding six rebounds and six assists to his stat line. Tony Gill tallied a double-double for Pacific, netting 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. And Sama Taku rounded out the double-digit scorers in the game for Pacific with 10 points. The Tigers connected on 48 percent of their shots in the game, and made 21-of-29 at the free-throw line.
Gill, Bock and Taku all are within one point of each other when it comes to the team's scoring leaders. Gill paces the Tigers this season entering the matchup against Murray State with an 11.6 ppg mark, followed closely by Bock at 11.4 ppg and Taku, who nets 11.2 ppg. Gill's 6 rpg average is the team's highest total entering the semifinal round of the CIT, and Bock's 2.9 apg margin is the best on the Tigers squad this year. As a unit, Pacific is netting 73 ppg, and is giving up 73.5 ppg to opponents through 33 games played.
The key for Murray State in the quarterfinal round was to contain Towson's Jerrelle Benimon, which the Racers did relatively well. Benimon scored 18 points and pulled down nine rebounds (he averaged a double-double entering the contest), but Benimon also gave away six turnovers. Murray State's offense went to work to outpace that of the Tigers, as the Racers connected on 49.2 percent of their field goal attempts. Freshman Cameron Payne led the way for Murray State with 24 points and seven assists, followed by a near double- double for Jarvis Williams at 18 points and nine rebounds. Dexter Fields chipped in 15 points for the Racers, and Jonathan Fairell notched a double- double with 13 points and 10 boards.
Another strong game for the freshman Payne proved to boost his already team- leading scoring average. Payne now heads into this contest with a 16.5 ppg mark, having also dished out a team-best 175 assists and recorded 52 steals on the season. Williams, the double-double machine for Murray State, adds 14.7 ppg and a team-high 10.2 rpg average along with 53 blocked shots. T.J. Sapp and Jeffery Moss each net 13.3 ppg for the Racers to round out the team's double-digit scorers on the year. As a team, Murray State hasn't found much trouble scoring, with a 77.6 ppg average through 32 games played. Defensively, the Racers allow 72.3 ppg to opponents.
Pacific has met a slew of teams that either haven't been playing their best ball, or have had issues scoring points. That's not going to be the case against Murray State, which owns a dominant 15-1 record on its home court this season. Murray State shouldn't have much trouble making it to the CIT final round.
Game Date and Time