UE blew a 15-point first half lead Saturday on its way to an 82-70 loss to Murray State at the Ford Center.
The Aces moved to 5-4 with the loss and the Racers to 7-1.
Murray State senior Isaiah Canaan scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half. Ed Daniel added 21 points and 15 rebounds.
UE senior Ned Cox scored all 16 of his points in the game’s first seven minutes. Troy Taylor recorded his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 12 boards.
Coach Marty Simmons on where the Aces let it slip away out of the half, which they entered leaving 39-36 but were then out-scored 21-6: “From our standpoint, you’ve got to be ultra-aggressive. You’ve either got to get fouled or score the basket. Then you compound that. We had four turnovers, so four missed layups and four turnovers. Then we lost a little bit of our intensity defensively. They picked theirs up. We just didn’t handle it.”
Added Simmons: “At the start of the game, we were so aggressive off the dribble. We were able to get some stops and get out in transition. That’s what we wanted to do for 40 minutes, but we just didn’t have the carryover into the second half. That’s something that we’ve got to learn from. I talk about it all the time. You’ve got to sustain effort for 40 minutes. You’ve got to sustain aggression for 40 minutes. I think that’s one of the things that makes Murray State so good – just how aggressive they are.”
UE’s Cox on his performance, which started with 7 of 7 shots made. He finished 7 of 11 from the field. “I came out and knocked a few shots down,” Cox said. “I was trying to be aggressive from the get-go, and it was working. It’s not really anything they did. They tried to put a little more pressure on. I just feel like individually, I sort of let my team down. I didn’t sustain my effort. It wasn’t so much the scoring.”
UE’s Taylor credited Murray State: “Yeah, they’re a pretty solid team. They have a lot of good players and are real active. Once you watch film, we made a lot of mistakes throughout the game. Those are mistakes we’ve got to clean up.”
Taylor blamed the Aces’ sporadic play for letting the lead vanish, a recurring theme early this season: “One thing we’ve been talking about lately is consistency. Everything’s been like a roller coaster up to this point. We’ve got to be more detailed and together, whether it’s watching film or getting extra reps.”
Murray State coach Steve Prohm on the game: “Today is a great win for us, no question. Anytime you go on the road in the Missouri Valley Conference and get a good win in front of a good crowd against a great program – I’ve got a great respect for coach Simmons and how he goes about things doing his job in Evansville…At the 12-minute media (timeout of the first half), I just told the guys, ‘Start over. We’ll just start over down 15.’ Credit our great seniors, led by Ed and Isaiah.”
After hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer, Murray State’s Canaan later drove to the basket and went down injured on a separate play. He briefly walked to the locker room and came back. “I don’t know what happened on the play,” Prohm said. “The thing about Isaiah is he’s driving, and he gets bumped some, and it’s an aggressive game. He forces some things at times and tries to attack too early at times. I’ve got to put him in better positions. He had a tremendous stat line tonight, expect for seven turnovers. And that was just him forcing some things. He just hit his head is what I was told. There’s no concussion symptoms or anything like that. He’s beat up. He’s playing a lot of minutes. But he’s a warrior, and when we needed a couple of big shots, he made some big 3s.”
UE sophomore Jordan Nelson (1.8 points per game) didn’t dress Saturday with what Simmons said was “acute turf toe.” What’s that mean? “I don’t know. He was out, obviously.” Will that keep him out next week? “I hope not. We’ll just have to wait and see.”