Murray State Racers men's basketball

represents intercollegiate men's basketball at Murray State University

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Murray State Racers
2019–20 Murray State Racers men's basketball team
Murray State M Racers logo.png
UniversityMurray State University
Head coachMatt McMahon (5th season)
ConferenceOhio Valley
LocationMurray, Kentucky
ArenaCFSB Center
(Capacity: 8,602)
ColorsNavy and Gold[1]
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Home jersey
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Team colours
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Away jersey
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Team colours

NCAA Tournament Round of 32
1964, 1969, 1988, 2010, 2012, 2019
NCAA Tournament Appearances
1964, 1969, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2018, 2019
Conference Tournament Champions
1951, 1964, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2018, 2019
Conference Regular Season Champions
1951, 1964, 1968, 1969, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2020
Conference Division Season Champions
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

Murray State Racers men's basketball program represents intercollegiate men's basketball at Murray State University. The school competes in the Ohio Valley Conference in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and play home games at the CFSB Center in Murray, Kentucky. Murray State made its 17th appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2019. Four times the Racers advanced in the tournament, most recently when it defeated Marquette in 2019. In 1988, Murray State defeated North Carolina State in the first round but lost to eventual national champion Kansas in the second round. In 2010, 22 years to the date of the 1988 win, the Racers beat Vanderbilt and lost to eventual runner-up Butler in the second round.


Murray State's first basketball venues were Wilson Hall (1926–27); Lovett Auditorium (1927–1937), which had a capacity of 1,500; and Carr Health Building (1937–1954), which had a capacity of 3,000.[2] Racer Arena opened in 1954 and entertained Racer fans for 43 years. While its capacity was 5,500, over 6,000 people crowded the arena on numerous occasions.[3] Racer Arena is now a volleyball-only facility, the largest in NCAA Division I.[4]

CFSB Center

Replacing Racer Arena is the CFSB Center, the current home of Murray State men's basketball. Constructed in June 1998 at a cost of $20 million, the facility is a modern arena which can host other events besides basketball. The CFSB Center sits 8,602 and includes a $250,000 scoreboard and a 2,000 sq. ft. weight room. The first basketball game at the CFSB Center was against Southern Illinois on November 14, 1998, a 65-62 victory for the Racers in front of 7,633 spectators.[3] It was formerly known as the Regional Special Events Center, or "RSEC", until the name was changed on September 17, 2010 after Community Financial Services Bank donated $3.3 million to Murray State, the largest donation in athletic history.[5]


Murray State basketball has consistently been recognized as one of the best college basketball programs in the history of the sport. In 2005, Street & Smith's named the Racers the 52nd best program of all time.[6] In their prestige system, ESPN ranked Murray State the 30th best programs from 1984 to 2008, breaking a tie with Villanova due to a higher winning percentage. The Racers are the highest "true" mid-major team in their rankings.[7]

Cutchin era (1925–1941)

Carlisle Cutchin launched the Murray State basketball program in 1925.[2] At the time, Murray State was a teacher's college and the nickname was the Thoroughbreds.[8] In the 1935–36 season, Cutchin coached Murray State to its highest win percentage for a season at .920, when his Thoroughbreds finished with a record of 23-2.[9] That season also included Murray State's best start, at 19-1.[10] In his final season, he led the Thoroughbreds to the title game of the 1941 NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, at which time they lost to the San Diego State Aztecs 36-34.[2] Since he retired in 1941, he has maintained his position as the all-time winningest coach in Murray State basketball history, with a career record of 267-101.[10]

Mountjoy era (1941–1942)

Rice Mountjoy was hired as the next men's basketball coach from Danville High School, where he was athletic director.[8] In his only season with the Thoroughbreds, he coached the team to an 18-4 record.[11] That season was marked by strong play from early jump shot proponent Joe Fulks, who transferred from Millsaps College.[12] Mountjoy left after the 1941–42 season to coach Augusta Tilghman High School in nearby Paducah.[13]

Miller era (1942–1948)

Former Murray State basketball player and then-freshman team coach John Miller replaced Mountjoy as head basketball coach.[13] His best season was his first, when he led the team to a 21–5 record and finished fourth in the 1941 NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.[11]

Hodges era (1948–1954)

From Southern Illinois,[14] Harlan Hodges led the team to two NAIA Tournaments and two No. 16 AP rankings in his six seasons, with a 109–66 (.623) record. Bennie Purcell and Garrett Beshear were on the roster during those years and were later named NAIA All-Americans.[15] Hodges left Murray in May 1954 for the University of Idaho in the Pacific Coast Conference,[16] where success largely eluded him. He resigned after five seasons in 1959 to become the superintendent of schools in Anna, Illinois,[17][18] then returned to Murray in 1964 to teach.[19]

Alexander era (1954–1958)

Rex Alexander was promoted from assistant to head coach after former North Carolina head coach Tom Scott accepted, then turned down the head coaching post at Murray State. Alexander led Murray State for four seasons, posting a 45-54 record, including a 15-10 mark in 1955-56. But after his first team was Ohio Valley Conference regular-season and tournament runners-up, his teams never finished higher than third in the conference and he was replaced by DePauw University head coach Cal Luther on March 5, 1958. Alexander agreed to stay on as an assistant coach under Luther.

Luther era (1959–1974)

In 1958, Murray State hired Cal Luther, who had served the previous four seasons as head coach at DePauw. In 16 seasons under Luther, Murray State won three OVC regular-season championships and made the NCAA Tournament in 1964 and 1969. His 1970-71 team reached No. 17 in the Associated Press poll, entering the rankings after a thrilling 73-71 victory over Western Kentucky in Murray. WKU would go on to reach the NCAA Tournament Final Four that season. A two-time OVC Coach of the Year, Luther led the Racers to a 241-134 record.

Luther's most notable players were future professional players Dick Cunningham, Claude Virden and Stewart Johnson, as well as Racer greats Herb McPherson, Jim Jennings and Les Taylor.

Cal Luther was a firebrand of a coach. The standing joke at the university was the over and under of Cal throwing off his jacket during a game due to a call by a ref, or from frustration with a player. The latter part of his tenure was marred by an OVC issue with testing and which tests the schools in the OVC used to qualify athletes. During the 1973-74 season several players were disqualified for using an illegal testing equivalency. This happened across the OVC, and Murray was not the only school to lose student athletes. Most of the disqualified athletes were allowed to transfer by the NCAA to other schools, but OVC schools lost the services of those athletes who had not actually taken the SAT, but had taken the ACT.

Overton era (1975–1978)

After three seasons as an assistant under Cal Luther, Fred Overton was elevated to head coach in 1975. After a 9-17 first season, the Racers started the 1976-77 season with a 17-6 record before dropping their last four games for a 17-10 final ledger, finishing second in the OVC. But after the Racers posted an 8-17 in 1977-78, Overton was fired.[20]

Greene era (1978–1985)

Ron Greene returned to his alma mater fresh off earning the AP Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year award at Mississippi State in 1978.

After managing only four wins in his first season as coach at Murray, Greene led the Racers to 23 wins the following year and an appearance in the National Invitation Tournament. The Racers knocked off Jacksonville and Alabama before losing to Illinois 65-63 in the quarterfinals, all on the road. Greene's Racers would win three Ohio Valley Conference regular-season titles and reach the NIT twice more under his guidance.

A highlight of the 1981–82 season came when Murray State traveled to South Bend, Indiana, to play against Notre Dame. Murray State defeated a Notre Dame team coached by Digger Phelps 56-54.[21]

His overall record at Murray State was 119-78. While at the Racer helm, Greene coached Racer greats Gary Hooker and Lamont Sleets.

Newton era (1985–1991)

In Steve Newton's second season, in 1987–88, the team finished with a 13-15 record.[22] This marked the last time the Racers had a losing season; only Arizona, Kansas, and Syracuse hold longer streaks.[2][23]

In addition to Murray's win in 1988, two years later the No. 16 seed Racers took No. 1 seed Michigan State into overtime before falling 75-71. The loss in 1990 was the closest a 16 seeded team had ever come to knocking off a No. 1 seeded team in the tournament. While a 16 seeded Princeton team and a 16 seeded East Tennessee State team both fell by just 1 point during regulation in the 1989 tournament, the 1990 Murray State team was the only 16 seed ever to take a game into overtime.[24][25] In 1997, the No. 15 seed Racers nearly shocked the No. 2 seed Duke Blue Devils in a 71-68 loss.

In 1988, Jeff Martin became the first basketball player in Murray State, and OVC, history to be invited to the Olympic trials for the US Basketball Team.[26] This was the last year that professionals were not allowed on the team. Martin did not make the team but impressed many with his performance.

The best-known player in the Newton era is Popeye Jones. While at Murray State, Jones scored 2,057 points which still ranks fourth all time for the Racers. He is also Murray State's all-time leader in rebounds with 1,374, and led the nation in that category in the 1990–91 season. Jones is the only player in MSU history to record more than 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Jones helped lead the Racers to OVC championships in 1991 and 1992. He went on to have a successful career in the NBA after being drafted in the second round by the Houston Rockets in the 1992 NBA Draft.

Edgar era (1992–1995)

Scott Edgar was hired as head basketball coach after serving six seasons as an assistant coach under Nolan Richardson at Arkansas. Bringing a version of Richardson's uptempo "40 Minutes of Hell" philosophy to Murray, Edgar led the Racers to two NCAA tournament appearances (1992, 1995) and one NIT appearance (1994) in four seasons. His teams won three OVC regular-season championships (1992, 1994 and 1995), posting a 48-14 record in conference games during his tenure.

Edgar recruited Racer greats Marcus Brown and Vincent Rainey to Murray State, with Brown averaging 22.4 points and Rainey 18.8 points in Edgar's final season at Murray.

Edgar left Murray State after the 1994-95 season to become head coach at Duquesne.

Gottfried era (1995–1998)

Mark Gottfried was hired as head basketball coach after serving seven seasons as an assistant coach under Jim Harrick at UCLA. Gottfried was hired shortly after he finished the 1995 season with the Bruins, in which he helped lead the Bruins to an NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship. Mark Gottfried was also the nephew of ESPN analyst and former Murray State football coach Mike Gottfried.

In Gottfried's first season, the Racers returned four starters, including Marcus Brown, from the Racer team that nearly upset North Carolina in the 1995 NCAA Tournament, and the team was picked to finished first in the OVC. The Racers won the Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship in 1996 for the third straight season; however, the Racers were defeated in the OVC tournament. In the final game of the tournament, Murray State's Vincent Rainey was charged with a foul with two-tenths of a second left on the clock in a tie game against the rival Austin Peay Governors. APSU's Reggie Crenshaw made two free throws and the Racers lost the game 70-68. As a result of the loss, the Racers did not reach the 1996 NCAA Tournament. The Racers lost to the Missouri Tigers in the opening round of the 1996 National Invitational Tournament, and finished the season 19-10. Marcus Brown finished his college playing career at the close of the 1996 season with 2,236 career points, which is third best in Murray State history.

With a November 23, 1996, victory over the Belmont Bruins, the Racers began a 47-game home winning streak that would last into the 1999–2000 season. The Racers won the 1997 OVC Tournament with an overtime win over Austin Peay and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

ESPN's College Basketball Encyclopedia names the Racers 1997–98 season as having the best team in school history. OVC player of the year De'Teri Mayes led the 1997–98 team to 23 victories by double digit margins. Isaac Spencer was a freshman on the team. Spencer would go on to score 2,248 points over four seasons, which places him second place all time for the Racers. The Racers won both the OVC regular season and OVC tournament again in 1998; however, Murray State fell to number eight seed Rhode Island in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Racers finished the season a number 25 ranking in the final AP Poll. Mark Gottfried won three Ohio Valley Conference Championships in each of his three seasons, the only OVC coach to accomplish such a mark.[27][28]

Gottfried was hired by Alabama to be head basketball coach in March 1998. He had been a starting player for the Crimson Tide for three seasons between 1985 and 1987.

Anderson era (1998–2003)

Tevester Anderson was promoted to head coach of the Racers in March, 1998 after Mark Gottfried left Murray State to take the head coach position at the University of Alabama. Anderson, the first African American to serve as head coach of the Murray State men's basketball team, had previously served as an assistant coach under Gottfried during the previous three seasons. At age 61, Anderson was also the oldest rookie head coach in NCAA Division I basketball. In his first year as coach of the Racers, Anderson led the team to a 27-6 record, an Ohio Valley Conference championship, and an NCAA Tournament appearance. Anderson was named the OVC's Co-Coach of the Year and was named NABC District 7 Coach of the Year following the 1998–99 season.[29][30]

In Anderson's second year as head coach, the Racers finished the 1999–2000 season with a 23-9 record. The record was good enough to capture a share of the OVC regular season championship, but the Racer's failed to win the OVC Tournament and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Murray State home court winning streak, the longest in the nation, also came to an end in 2000 with a January 15 loss to Southeast Missouri State University.

Over the next three years under Anderson, the success of the Racer basketball program steadily declined, culminating in a low point during the 2002–03 season. The Racers finished the 2002–03 season with a 17-12 record, which was fourth-place in the OVC standings. The fourth-place finish was the worst finish in the OVC standings since the 1986–87 season. Amid rumors that Anderson would relinquish his coaching duties at Murray State under pressure from university officials, he resigned from the head coach position in March 2003.[31] Anderson was named as the new head coach at Jackson State University in April 2003.[32]

Cronin era (2003–2006)

Previously an assistant at Cincinnati (1997–2001) under Bob Huggins and at Louisville (2001–03) under Rick Pitino, Mick Cronin was introduced as the new head coach of the Racers on April 5, 2003. When he accepted the position, Cronin became the fourth youngest head coach in NCAA Division-I basketball. In Cronin's first season as head coach, the Racers won the OVC tournament and advanced to the first round of the NCAA Tournament where the Racers fell to No. 5 seeded Illinois. The success of the 2003–04 season was also tainted by arrests and suspensions. Just before the start of the 2004 NCAA Tournament, juniors Adam Chiles and Kelvin Brown were arrested on drug charges. Chiles was charged with hindering prosecution and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, and Brown was charged with theft from an alleged gas drive-off, possession of marijuana, and his second offense of possession of drug paraphernalia. Both were arrested following a 911 hangup call from their apartment in which Chiles was found outside and Brown was found hiding in a closet. Chiles was cleared to play in the tournament, but Brown was suspended indefinitely and later dismissed from the team in April.[33]

Problems continued for the Racers in the 2004–05 season. The team's only returning starter, Adam Chiles, was dismissed from the team in November following his second arrest of 2004. Chiles was stopped by Kentucky State Police while driving on Western Kentucky Parkway near Leitchfield, Kentucky. Chiles was charged with driving under the influence, possession of marijuana, possession of an open alcoholic beverage container, and speeding. Chiles had averaged 10.1 points and 3.9 assists for the Racers in the previous season. The Racers went on to finish the 2004–05 season with a record of 20-10 and a first round loss in the OVC tournament.[34]

In the 2006 tournament, junior guard Trey Pearson missed a critical 3-point shot in the final seconds of the first-round game against No. 3 seeded defending champion North Carolina. UNC was fouled on the rebound and went to the line to sink the game clinching shots to defeat the No. 14 seeded Racers 69-65. After the 2006 NCAA Tournament Cronin took the reins of the Cincinnati Bearcats,his hometown team and alma mater.[35]

Kennedy era (2006–2011)

A Murray State basketball game in 2011.

The Racers won their first-round game in the 2010 NCAA tournament in dramatic fashion, defeating fourth-seeded Vanderbilt 66-65 on a buzzer-beating jump shot by senior Danero Thomas. This was the first time that any Ohio Valley Conference team had advanced to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament since Middle Tennessee advanced in 1989. The Racers followed up a regular season conference championship for the second year in a row in 2011. The Racers were eliminated from the OVC tournament in 2011; however, they earned a number six seed in the National Invitational Tournament where the Racers suffered a first round loss to Missouri State University. In May 2011, Billy Kennedy announced that he was leaving Murray State to accept the head coach position at Texas A&M University.

Prohm era (2011–2015)

Steve Prohm was introduced as the 15th head coach on May 23, 2011. Prohm was promoted to the head coach position after serving as an assistant coach under Billy Kennedy for the previous five seasons. The Racers won the 2011 Great Alaska Shootout early in the 2011–12 season and went on a 23-game winning streak to start the season. The team's 23-0 start under Prohm was the best start to a season in team history. The 23-0 start beat the previous best start record of 16-0 set by the 1935–36 men's basketball team under Carlisle Cutchin. The 23-0 start was the third-best start in NCAA Division I history for a first-year head coach, and it set OVC records for most wins to start a season and overall winning streak during a season[36][37]

The 10th win of the 2011–12 season was a victory over the then No. 21-ranked Memphis Tigers. This was Murray State's first win over a ranked team since defeating Vanderbilt in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. It was also Murray State's first win over a ranked team during the regular season since the Racers defeated No. 12 Arkansas in 1997. Following the victory over Memphis, the Racers entered the national polls at No. 24 on the AP Top 25 Poll on December 12, 2011. This marked the first time an OVC basketball team had been ranked in the major national polls since the Racers were last ranked at No. 25 in the final poll of the 1998 season. The No. 24 ranking also marked the team's highest ranking since February 1971, when the Racers were 17th.[38][39] The No. 24-ranked Racers defeated the Lipscomb Bisons in the 11th game of the season. The victory was the first win for Murray State as a ranked team since a ranked Racer team defeated Tennessee Tech 72-69 on February 2, 1971.[40] On January 2, 2012, Murray State moved into the No. 1 spot in the Mid-Major Top 25 Poll. The Racers became the first OVC team to ever achieve the No. 1 ranking in the Mid-Major Top 25 Poll. Following Murray State's 16th win of the season, a January 7, 2012, victory over conference-rival Austin Peay, the Racers moved up to No. 14 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll and No. 15 in the AP Poll. Their 17th win came against Jacksonville State at the CFSB center to put the Racers to 17-0, and their best start in school history. Their 18th win against Tennessee Tech, 82-74 on January 14, 2012, kept Murray one of only three Division I schools with an unbeaten season as of that date. The January 9 AP ranking was the highest ranking in the history of the Murray State men's basketball program. The No. 15 ranking was also the highest ranking for an OVC team since the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers were ranked No. 7 on March 16, 1971.[41]

On February 9, 2012, Murray State hosted OVC-rival Tennessee State University as the No. 9 team in the nation and the lone unbeaten in Division I basketball. Murray State lost 72-68. Two days later, Murray State answered with a definitive win at home against rival Austin Peay 82-63, bringing its record to 24-1.[42] This win was quickly followed by a win on the road at SEMO, 75-66, to clinch the Racers third consecutive Ohio Valley Conference regular-season championship.[43]

On February 18, Murray State hosted St. Mary's College in a much-anticipated Bracketbuster event, and the last home game of the season. The game was not only a sellout, but the largest ever for attendance at the CFSB center: 8,825. This marked the first time two ranked teams played at the CFSB Center (Murray State No. 16 AP, No. 14 USA Today/ESPN; St. Mary's No. 21 AP, No. 16 USA Today/ESPN) and the first time a ranked Murray State team played another ranked team. The game also featured a national TV audience on ESPN with legendary announcers Dave O'Brien and Dick Vitale calling the action. Murray State never trailed in the game and defeated St. Mary's 65-51, improving its record to 26-1.[44] As the historic 2011–12 season came to a close, the Murray State men's basketball program was the recipient of several high-profile awards. Coach Steve Prohm was named the Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year, which marked the third-consecutive year the award was presented to a Murray State head coach. Prohm also was recognized as the District-IV Coach of the Year by the United States Basketball Writers Association and District 19 Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Prohm also received two national coach of the year awards: the Basketball Times Coach of the Year Award and the Joe B. Hall National Coach of the Year Award.[45][46][47][48] Junior point guard Isaiah Canaan was named Second Team All-America by the Associated Press, as well as selected to the John R. Wooden All-American team, Lute Olson All-America team, NABC All-America Third Team, and Sporting News All-America First Team. Canaan was a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award, Bob Cousy Award, Oscar Robertson Trophy, Lou Henson Award and to the Naismith College Player of the Year Midseason watch list.[49][50]

On June 8, 2015, Prohm was announced as the new head coach at Iowa State. The Iowa State job had become open when Fred Hoiberg left to become head coach of the Chicago Bulls.[51]

McMahon era (2015–present)

On June 10, 2015, Matt McMahon was hired as head coach of Murray State.[52][53] McMahon served as an assistant under Prohm and had just left the school to serve as an assistant to Eric Konkol at Louisiana Tech on May 27, 2015 before Prohm left for Iowa State. "I am so excited to know that Coach McMahon will be returning to Murray State to lead the Racers," Murray State athletic director Allen Ward said. "After watching him for four years, I'm convinced he's the right man for the job. He's an outstanding coach, nationally recognized as one of the top assistants in the country, with a tremendous upside. Matt has the talent and integrity to continue the momentum we've built, put his own stamp on the program, and meet the expectations that come with being the head coach at Murray State."[54]

In his first season as head coach, the Racers finished the season 17–14, 10–6 in OVC play to finish in a tie for the West Division title. They lost in the quarterfinals of the OVC Tournament. However, the following year, the team's record dipped as they finished 16–17, 8–8 in OVC play to finish in third place in the West Division and losing in the semifinals of the OVC Tournament.

McMahon's third Racer team posted a 26–6, 16–2 record, winning the OVC regular season and tournament championships. They were received a 12 seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, where they fell in the First Round to West Virginia.[55] After the season, he was named National Association of Basketball Coaches District 19 Coach of the Year.[56]

In June 2018, Murray State awarded McMahon a contract extension through 2022.[57]

The 2018-19 season saw the Racers win 15 of their first 17 games, with the only losses to Southeastern Conference opponents Alabama and eventual Final Four participant Auburn, both on the road. By then, the nation had been introduced to sophomore point guard Ja Morant, who scored 25 points against Auburn and 38 against Alabama. The Racers went on to post a 16-2 OVC record and won the conference tournament championship over Belmont, 77-65, in Evansville, Indiana, earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the 17th time. There, the Racers earned a No. 12 seed and defeated Marquette of the Big East Conference, 83-64, in Hartford, Connecticut, on March 21 behind a triple-double from Morant (17 points, 11 rebounds, 16 assists). Two days later, Murray State fell to No. 4 seed Florida State of the Atlantic Coast Conference, 90-62, finishing the season with a 28-5 record. After the season, Morant was named a consensus First Team All-American after becoming the first player in NCAA history to average at least 20 points and 10 assists per game (24.5 ppg, 10 apg). [58]

The 2019-20 season saw the Racers go 22-8 in the regular season and finish tied with Belmont atop the OVC standings with a record of 15-3. Murray State earned a share of its third straight regular season OVC Championship, while Belmont earned the No. 1 seed due to a tie-breaker (having a better record against EIU than the Racers did).[59] Sophomores Tevin Brown and KJ Williams were named to the All-OVC First Team prior to entering the 2020 OVC Tournament. The Racers and Belmont squared off in the OVC Championship finale for the third time in the last three years. Murray State won the previous two years but fell this season, 76-75. There was no postseason play forthcoming for the Racers -- or anyone else in college basketball -- due to the shutdown of spectator sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic that engulfed the world in 2020.

Season by season results

Starting from the 1987–88 season, the Racers had recorded a winning season for 29 straight years ending in the 2016-17 season. They have won 20 or more games in a season 28 times and twice have won 30 or more. For the first time in school history, the 2014–15 Racers went undefeated (16-0) in the OVC regular season.

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Carlisle Cutchin (KIAC & SIAA) (1925–1941)
1925–26 Murray State Racers 9–5
1926–27 Murray State Racers 11–9
1927–28 Murray State Racers 8–9
1928–29 Murray State Racers 12–8
1929–30 Murray State Racers 19–2
1930–31 Murray State Racers 12–6
1931–32 Murray State Racers 17–3
1932–33 Murray State Racers 14–6
1933–34 Murray State Racers 11–6
1934–35 Murray State Racers 18–6
1935–36 Murray State Racers 23–2
1936–37 Murray State Racers 22–3
1937–38 Murray State Racers 27–4 NAIA Final Four, 3rd
1938–39 Murray State Racers 13–8 NAIA 2nd Round
1939–40 Murray State Racers 14–9
1940–41 Murray State Racers 26–5 NAIA Runner–up
Carlisle Cutchin: 256–90
Rice Mountjoy (KIAC & SIAA) (1941–1942)
1941–42 Murray State Racers 18–4 NAIA 1st Round
Rice Mountjoy: 18–4
John Miller (KIAC) (1943–1948)
1942–43 Murray State Racers 21–5 NAIA Final Four, 4th
1943–44 Murray State Racers 5–9
1944–45 Murray State Racers 12–10
1945–46 Murray State Racers 10–13
1946–47 Murray State Racers 14–11
John Miller & Carlisle Cutchin (KIAC) (1947–1948)
1947–48 Murray State Racers 12–12
John Miller: 63–50
Carlisle Cutchin: 11–10
Carlisle Cutchin Total: 267–101
Harlan Hodges (Ohio Valley Conference) (1948–1954)
1948–49 Murray State Racers 13–12 3–9 6th
1949–50 Murray State Racers 18–13 5–7 5th NAIA 1st Round
1950–51 Murray State Racers 21–6 9–3 1st
1951–52 Murray State Racers 24–10 9–3 3rd NAIA Runner–up
1952–53 Murray State Racers 18–9 7–3 3rd
1953–54 Murray State Racers 15–16 6–4 2nd

Harlan Hodges: 109–66 39–29
Rex Alexander (Ohio Valley Conference) (1954–1958)
1954–55 Murray State Racers 11–15 6–4 2nd
1955–56 Murray State Racers 15–10 6–4 4th
1956–57 Murray State Racers 11–13 5–5 3rd
1957–58 Murray State Racers 8–16 6–6 4th
Rex Alexander: 45–54 23–19
Cal Luther (Ohio Valley Conference) (1958–1974)
1958–59 Murray State Racers 10–15 3–9 7th
1959–60 Murray State Racers 12–11 7–4 3rd
1960–61 Murray State Racers 13–10 7–5 4th
1961–62 Murray State Racers 13–12 5–7 5th
1962–63 Murray State Racers 13–9 6–6 4th
1963–64 Murray State Racers 16–9 11–3 1st NCAA Round of 25
1964–65 Murray State Racers 19–7 9–5 3rd
1965–66 Murray State Racers 13–12 8–6 3rd
1966–67 Murray State Racers 14–9 8–6 2nd
1967–68 Murray State Racers 16–8 10–4 T–1st
1968–69 Murray State Racers 22–6 11–3 T–1st NCAA Round of 25
1969–70 Murray State Racers 17–9 9–5 2nd
1970–71 Murray State Racers 19–5 10–4 2nd
1971–72 Murray State Racers 15–11 6–8 5th
1972–73 Murray State Racers 17–8 9–5 2nd
1973–74 Murray State Racers 12–13 6–8 5th
1974–75 Murray State Racers 10–15 3–11 7th
Cal Luther: 241–154 125–88
Fred Overton (Ohio Valley Conference) (1975–1978)
1975–76 Murray State Racers 9–17 5–9 7th
1976–77 Murray State Racers 17–10 9–5 2nd
1977–78 Murray State Racers 8–17 4–10 7th
Fred Overton: 44–59 21–25
Ron Greene (Ohio Valley Conference) (1978–1985)
1978–79 Murray State Racers 4–22 2–10 7th
1979–80 Murray State Racers 23–8 10–2 T–1st NIT Quarterfinals
1980–81 Murray State Racers 17–10 10–4 2nd
1981–82 Murray State Racers 20–8 13–3 T–1st NIT First Round
1982–83 Murray State Racers 21–8 11–3 1st NIT First Round
1983–84 Murray State Racers 15–13 7–7 4th
1984–85 Murray State Racers 19–9 8–6 4th
Ron Greene: 119–78 63–35
Steve Newton (Ohio Valley Conference) (1985–1991)
1985–86 Murray State Racers 17–12 8–6 3rd
1986–87 Murray State Racers 13–15 6–8 6th
1987–88 Murray State Racers 22–9 13–1 1st NCAA Round of 32
1988–89 Murray State Racers 19–11 10–2 T–1st NIT First Round
1989–90 Murray State Racers 21–9 10–2 1st NCAA Round of 64
1990–91 Murray State Racers 24–9 10–2 1st NCAA Round of 64
Steve Newton: 116–65 57–21
Scott Edgar (Ohio Valley Conference) (1991–1995)
1991–92 Murray State Racers 17–13 11–3 1st NCAA Round of 64
1992–93 Murray State Racers 18–12 11–5 2nd
1993–94 Murray State Racers 23–6 15–1 1st NIT First Round
1994–95 Murray State Racers 21–9 11–5 T–1st NCAA Round of 64
Scott Edgar: 79–40 48–14
Mark Gottfried (Ohio Valley Conference) (1995–1998)
1995–96 Murray State Racers 19–10 12–4 1st NIT First Round
1996–97 Murray State Racers 20–10 12–6 T–1st NCAA Round of 64
1997–98 Murray State Racers 29–4 16–2 1st NCAA Round of 64
Mark Gottfried: 68–24 40–12
Tevester Anderson (Ohio Valley Conference) (1998–2003)
1998–99 Murray State Racers 27–6 16–2 1st NCAA Round of 64
1999–00 Murray State Racers 23–9 14–4 T–1st
2000–01 Murray State Racers 17–12 11–5 2nd
2001–02 Murray State Racers 19–13 10–6 3rd NCAA Round of 64
2002–03 Murray State Racers 17–12 9–7 4th
Tevester Anderson: 103–52 50–24
Mick Cronin (Ohio Valley Conference) (2003–2006)
2003–04 Murray State Racers 28–6 14–2 2nd NCAA Round of 64
2004–05 Murray State Racers 17–11 11–5 2nd
2005–06 Murray State Racers 27–4 17–3 1st NCAA Round of 64
Mick Cronin: 69–24 42–10
Billy Kennedy (Ohio Valley Conference) (2006–2011)
2006–07 Murray State Racers 16–14 13–7 2nd
2007–08 Murray State Racers 18–13 13–7 2nd
2008–09 Murray State Racers 19–12 13–5 2nd
2009–10 Murray State Racers 31–5 17–1 1st NCAA Round of 32
2010–11 Murray State Racers 23–9 14–4 1st NIT First Round
Billy Kennedy: 107–53 70–24
Steve Prohm (Ohio Valley Conference) (2011–2015)
2011–12 Murray State Racers 31–2 15–1 1st NCAA Round of 32
2012–13 Murray State Racers 21–10 10–6 1st West
2013–14 Murray State Racers 23–11 13–3 1st West CIT Champions
2014–15 Murray State Racers 29–6 16–0 1st West NIT Quarterfinals
Steve Prohm: 104–29 54–10
Matt McMahon (Ohio Valley Conference) (2015–present)
2015-16 Murray State Racers 17–14 10–6 T–1st West
2016–17 Murray State Racers 16–17 8–8 3rd West
2017–18 Murray State Racers 26–6 16–2 1st NCAA Round of 64
2018–19 Murray State Racers 28–5 16–2 T–1st NCAA Round of 32
2019–20 Murray State Racers 23-9 15-3 T–1st
Matt McMahon: 110–51 65–21
Total: 1,662–904

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

[60] [61]

KIAC – Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (now known as River States Conference)
SIAA – Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association
NAIB – National Association for Intercollegiate Basketball
NAIA – National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (Was the NAIB until 1952 when they picked up other sports)[62]
NIT – National Invitation Tournament
NCAA – National Collegiate Athletic Association
CIT – Postseason Tournament


The Racers have been nationally ranked in seven seasons in either the Associated Press (AP) Poll or the ESPN-USA Today (Coaches) Poll. They were first ranked during the 1950–51 season coached by Harlan Hodges. The Racers received their highest ranking, under coach Steve Prohm, during the 2011–12 season, ranking 9th in the AP Poll and 7th in the Coaches Poll.

Year AP Poll Coaches Poll Coach
1950–51 16 Harlan Hodges
1951–52 16 Harlan Hodges
1952–53 17 Harlan Hodges
1970–71 17 Cal Luther
1997–98 25 Mark Gottfried
2011–12 9 7 Steve Prohm
2014–15 25 24 Steve Prohm
  • The AP Poll and Coaches Poll rankings represent the highest rankings received during that season.[63]


Murray State's oldest basketball rivalry is with nearby Western Kentucky. The two teams became archrivals during their time together in the Ohio Valley Conference. Although the schools no longer share their conference affiliation (Western Kentucky joined the Sun Belt Conference in 1982 and Conference USA in 2014), the two schools keep the series alive every few years. The two teams have met in basketball 147 times. The Racers' primary in-conference OVC rivalry is now with Austin Peay State University, a school closer geographically than WKU.[64][65][66] In February 2009, ESPN The Magazine highlighted the Austin Peay-Murray State rivalry.[66] Recently the Racers have been building a rivalry with OVC-newcomer Belmont. The past three seasons (2017-18 to 2019-20) have seen the Racers and the Bruins meet in the OVC Tournament finals, with Murray State winning two of those meetings.


The Racers have had 16 different head coaches in their history. Carlisle Cutchin has the most wins in school history with 267. Steve Newton has won the most OVC Regular Season titles with four & the most OVC Tournament titles with three. There have been 10 different coaches to win the OVC Coach Of The Year award for a combined 16 times.

Coach Years (Total) Overall Record (Pct.) OVC Record (Pct.) 20 Win Seasons (Best) Notes
Carlisle Cutchin 1925–1941, 1948 (17) 267–101 (.725) 4 (27)
Rice Mountjoy 1941–1942 (1) 18–4 (.818) 0 (18)
John Miller 1943–1948 (6) 63–50 (.556) 1 (21)
Harlan Hodges 1948–1954 (6) 109–66 (.623) 39–29 (.574) 2 (24) 1951 OVC Regular Season Champions[67]
1951 OVC Tournament Champions[68]
Rex Alexander 1955–1958 (4) 45-54 (.455) 23–19 (.548) 0 (15)
Cal Luther 1959–1974 (16) 241–154 (.610) 125–88 (.586) 1 (22) 1964, 1968, 1969 OVC Regular Season Champions[67]
1964 OVC Tournament Champions[68]
1964 & 1969 OVC Coach Of The Year[69]
Fred Overton 1975–1978 (4) 44–59 (.427) 21–25 (.456) 0 (17) 1977 OVC Coach Of The Year[69]
Ron Greene 1978–1985 (7) 119–78 (.604) 63–35 (.642) 3 (23) 1980, 1982, 1983 OVC Regular Season Champions[67]
1980 & 1983 OVC Coach Of The Year[69]
Steve Newton 1985–1991 (6) 116–65 (.640) 57–21 (.730) 3 (24) 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 OVC Regular Season Champions[67]
1988, 1990, 1991 OVC Tournament Champions[68]
1988 & 1990 OVC Coach Of The Year[69]
Scott Edgar 1991–1995 (4) 79–40 (.664) 48–14 (.774) 2 (23) 1992, 1994, 1995 OVC Regular Season Champions[67]
1992 & 1995 OVC Tournament Champions[68]
1992 & 1994 OVC Coach Of The Year[69]
Mark Gottfried 1995–1998 (3) 68–24 (.739) 40–12 (.769) 2 (29) 1996, 1997, 1998 OVC Regular Season Champions[67]
1997 & 1998 OVC Tournament Champions[68]
1998 OVC Coach Of The Year[69]
Tevester Anderson 1998–2003 (5) 103–52 (.664) 50–24 (.675) 2 (27) 1999 & 2000 OVC Regular Season Champions[67]
1999 & 2002 OVC Tournament Champions[68]
1999 OVC Coach Of The Year[69]
Mick Cronin 2003–2006 (3) 69–24 (.741) 42–10 (.807) 2 (28) 2006 OVC Regular Season Champions[67]
2004 & 2006 OVC Tournament Champions[68]
2006 OVC Coach Of The Year[69]
Billy Kennedy 2006–2011 (5) 107–53 (.668) 70–24 (.744) 2 (31) 2010 & 2011 OVC Regular Season Champions[67]
2010 OVC Tournament Champions[68]
2010 & 2011 OVC Coach Of The Year[69]
Steve Prohm 2011–2015 (4) 104–29 (.782) 54–10 (.844) 4 (31) 2013, 2014, 2015 OVC West Division Season Champions
2012 & 2015 OVC Regular Season Champions[67]
2012 OVC Tournament Champions[67]
2012 & 2015 OVC Coach Of The Year[69]
2012 Great Alaska Shootout Champions[70]
2014 CIT Postseason Tournament Champions[71]
Matt McMahon 2015–present (5) 110–51 (.683) 65–21 (.756) 3 (28) 2016 OVC West Division Season Co-Champions
2018 OVC Regular Season Champions
2018 OVC Tournament Champions
2019 & 2020 OVC Regular Season Co-Champions
2019 OVC Tournament Champions
Total 1925–present (94) 1,662–904 (.648) 703–344 (.671) 31 (31) 4 OVC West Division Season Championships
27 OVC Regular Season Championships
17 OVC Tournament Championships
16 OVC Coach Of The Year Awards
1 Great Alaska Shootout Championship
1 CIT Postseason Tournament Championship




The Racers have had 14 All-Americans; the first in 1938 and the most recent in 2019.

Ja Morant was a consensus First Team All-America in 2019.
Year Player
1938 Etheridge McKeel
1941 Bob Salmons
1943 Joe Fulks
1951 Garrett Beshear
1952 Bennie Purcell
1956 Howie Crittenden
1966 Stew Johnson
1968 Dick Cunningham
1989 Jeff Martin
1992 Popeye Jones
1994 Marcus Brown
2004 Cuthbert Victor
2012 Isaiah Canaan
2019 Ja Morant


NBA draftees

The Racers have had 25 players selected in the NBA draft, the first being Johnny Reagan by the Chicago Stags in 1948. Twice Murray State has had two players selected in the draft, in 1967 (Herb McPherson, San Diego [now Houston] Rockets, third round; Don Duncan, San Diego Rockets, 10th round) and 1971 (Hector Blondet, Portland Trail Blazers, fifth round; Ron Johnson, Baltimore Bullets [now Washington Wizards], ninth round). Here is a list of Racers picked in the draft that posted minutes in the NBA regular season:[73]

Marcus Brown scored 2,236 points while at Murray State and retired in 2011 as the Euroleague's all-time leading scorer (2,715 points).
Year Round Pick Overall Pick Player NBA Club
1966 3 1 21 Stew Johnson New York Knicks[74]
1968 2 7 21 Dick Cunningham Phoenix Suns[75]
1970 9 6 142 Claude Virden Seattle SuperSonics[76]
1989 2 4 31 Jeff Martin Los Angeles Clippers[77]
1992 2 14 41 Popeye Jones Houston Rockets[78]
1996 2 17 46 Marcus Brown Portland Trail Blazers[79]
2013 2 4 34 Isaiah Canaan Houston Rockets[80]
2015 1 14 14 Cameron Payne Oklahoma City Thunder[81]
2019 1 2 2 Ja Morant Memphis Grizzlies[82]

Retired numbers

The Racers have retired 11 numbers, the first in 1952 and the last in 2020.

No. Player Years Played Year Retired
3 Isaiah Canaan 2009–2013 2018
5 Marcus Brown 1992–1996 2010
12 Ja Morant 2017–2019 2020
15 Jeff Martin 1985–1989 1989
16 Garrett Beshear 1950–1953 1953
19 Howie Crittenden 1952–1956 1956
20 Johnny Reagan 1945–1948 2003
21 Bennie Purcell 1949–1952 1952
26 Joe Fulks 1941–1943 2001
30 Paul King 1987–1991 1991
54 Popeye Jones 1988–1992 1992

Scoring leaders

The Racers have had six players score over 2,000 points and 41 players score over 1,000 points during their careers. Marcus Brown holds the record for the most points in a single game with 45 against Washington (Mo.) on December 16, 1995. Jeff Martin holds the record for the most points in a single season with 806 during the 1987–88 season.[83]

Career scoring leaders
Rank Player Years Played Points
1 Jeff Martin 1985–89 2,484
2 Isaac Spencer 1997–2001 2,248
3 Marcus Brown 1993–96 2,236
4 Popeye Jones 1988–92 2,057
5 Isaiah Canaan 2009–13 2,050
6 Howie Crittenden 1952–56 2,019
7 Lamont Sleets 1979–84 1,902
8 Vincent Rainey 1994–97 1,888
9 Frank Allen 1989–93 1,811
10 Garrett Beshear 1949–53 1,716



NCAA Tournament

The Racers have appeared in 17 NCAA tournaments. They received their highest ranking in the tournament in 2012 with a 6th seed. They have an overall 4–17 record in tournament games. Popeye Jones holds the single game scoring record with 37 points against Michigan State in 1990.[85]

Year Seed Round Opponent Result
1964 Quarterfinals Loyola (IL) L 91–101
1969 Quarterfinals Marquette L 62–82
1988 #14 First Round
Second Round
#3 North Carolina State
#6 Kansas
W 78–75
L 58–61
1990 #16 First Round #1 Michigan State L 71–75 OT
1991 #13 First Round #4 Alabama L 79–89
1992 #14 First Round #3 Arkansas L 69–80
1995 #15 First Round #2 North Carolina L 70–80
1997 #15 First Round #2 Duke L 68–71
1998 #9 First Round #8 Rhode Island L 74–97
1999 #13 First Round #4 Ohio State L 58–72
2002 #14 First Round #3 Georgia L 68–85
2004 #12 First Round #5 Illinois L 53–72
2006 #14 First Round #3 North Carolina L 65–69
2010 #13 First Round
Second Round
#4 Vanderbilt
#5 Butler
W 66–65
L 52–54
2012 #6 Second Round
Third Round
#11 Colorado State
#3 Marquette
W 58–41
L 53–62
2018 #12 First Round #5 West Virginia L 68–85
2019 #12 First Round
Second Round
#5 Marquette
#4 Florida State
W 83–64
L 62–90

National Invitation Tournament

In eight National Invitation Tournament (NIT) appearances, the Racers are 4–8 overall in tournament games.[86]

Year Seed Round Opponent Result
1980 First Round
Second Round
W 53–49
W 70–62
L 63–65
1982 First Round UNLV L 61–87
1983 First Round Wake Forest L 80–87
1989 First Round Penn State L 73–89
1994 First Round Bradley L 58–66
1996 First Round Missouri L 85–89
2011 #6 First Round #3 Missouri State L 76–89
2015 #3 First Round
Second Round
#2 Tulsa
#1 Old Dominion
W 81–66
W 83–62
L 69–72 Postseason Tournament

The Racers appeared in the 2014 Postseason Tournament (CIT). They posted a 5–0 record to be 2014 CIT champions.

Year Round Opponent Result
2014 First Round
Second Round
Missouri State
W 66–63
W 86–62
W 85–73
W 98–75
W 65–57

NAIA Tournament

The Racers appeared in the NAIA Tournament seven times. Their combined record is 16–8.

Year Round Opponent Result
1938 First Round
Second Round
National 3rd Place Game
Northwest Missouri State
New Mexico A&M
W 47–40
W 38–30
W 30–29
L 29–35
W 33–24
1939 First Round
Second Round
W 43–37
L 39–42
1941 First Round
Second Round
National Championship Game
Oregon College
Northwest Missouri State
Santa Barbara State
San Diego State
W 68–46
W 51–33
W 46–43
W 35–33
L 34–36
1942 First Round East Central L 45–46 OT
1943 First Round
Second Round
National Third Place Game
Southwest Missouri State
Southwestern (KS)
Southeast Missouri State
North Texas State
W 72–44
W 44–42
W 44–38
L 36–38
L 55–59 OT
1950 First Round Central Washington State L 55–61
1952 First Round
Second Round
National Championship Game
West Texas State
Southwest Missouri State
W 72–46
W 75–73
W 81–69
W 58–57
L 64–73


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External links

Original content from Wikipedia, shared with licence Creative Commons By-Sa - Murray State Racers men's basketball