Bears Lead the Racers at the Intermission in NIT Opener
SPRINGFIELD -- Missouri State erased an early 3-0 deficit and has not trailed since, pulling ahead of visiting Murray State 38-31 at the half in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament at JQH Arena.
Jermaine Mallett leads Missouri State (25-8) with 9 points, while Kyle Weems has contributed 8. The Bears' bench has outscored the Racers by an 11-1 margin, and the Bears have just 5 first-half turnovers.
Missouri State is 12-for-26 (.462) from the field in the first half, including 5-of-10 (.500) from three point range to open up the seven-point advantage at the break.
Weems and Mallett each have a pair of treys thus far, including two in the first five minutes by the MVC Player of the Year Weems. Mallett's second trey of the opening period opened up a 36-29 lead for the home club with 2:30 to go, and after a dunk by Will Creekmore less than a minute later, the Bears pulled ahead 38-29.
The Racers (23-8) got the final bucket of the opening stanza to make it 38-31. The Ohio Valley Conference regular-season champions were 14-for-27 (.519) from the field and 1-of-6 (.167) from bonus range. The Racers were also 2-of-5 (.400) from the charity stripe with 5 turnovers.
Ivan Aska had 12 points, and Isacc Miles scored 11 in the first half for Murray State.
The Bears out-rebounded the Racers by a 15-12 margin and made 9-of-11 (.818) free throws as they look to advance to the second round against the winner of tomorrow's Miami (Fla.) vs. Florida Atlantic game.
The game came be seen on www.ESPN3.com.