Updated: Oct 4, 2022
For the third straight year the Belmont men’s basketball team will be facing Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament final.
The Bruins faced the Racers twice this season for the first time ever and split the two game series. Murray winning at home and Belmont winning at the Curb Event Center a few weeks later.
Murray will try and attempt a three-peat as the Bruins will attempt to break a five year tournament championship drought. The last time the Bruins won the OVC Tournament was in 2015 when they defeated none other than Murray State.
This is the fifth time these teams have faced off in the tournament final, Belmont winning the first two and Murray winning the last two.
Both teams came into this season losing huge play makers. Ja Morant and Shaq Buchanan for Murray and Dylan Windler and Kevin McClain for Belmont.
The Bruins had an up and down season losing to SIUE, Murray and Austin Peay in the first half of conference. It seemed that the team wasn’t fixing the issues that were plaguing the team all season. But a 10-game win streak showed fans and teams that this young Belmont team was prepared to play for a championship.
Murray State on the other hand was the opposite. It started off hot in conference play and began to fall apart just as Belmont started its win streak.
In the teams’ first meeting, Murray State won 85-75 with the Racers having five players scoring in double figures and shooting for 57 percent from behind the arc. The Bruins on the other hand had only three players in double figures and the team couldn’t hit free throws shooting 41 percent from the charity stripe.
This was not quite the situation when the Racers visited Nashville. The Racers struggled immensely as they shot 21-61 from the field and turned the ball over 22 times. Belmont had 14 steals and shot over 80 percent from the freethrow line. However Belmont struggled at the three shooting 16 percent from the 3-point line.
But so far in the tournament, neither team completely dominated its semifinal games.
Belmont shot less than 25 percent from behind the arc and players struggled to get shots to fall in the first half and early in the second half against EKU.
Nick Muszynski also struggled as he only scored 8 points all of which came in the second half. They seemed a little rusty on six days rest but were still able to control the game from start to finish.
The Racers had a much more difficult game as they faced Austin Peay for the third time and had to take OVC Player of the Year Terry Taylor.
Tevin Brown and KJ Williams had amazing games scoring 24 points and 15 points respectively. Murray shot 44 percent from the field, 43 percent from the 3-point line and 75 percent from the charity stripe.
Muszynski and Brown will be the game changers for both teams will need to come out big. If the threes don’t drop for the Bruins, it may be a long mountain to climb as the Racers can take advantage off of missed shots.
Belmont may have an advantage over Murray due to the fact the Racers played the later game on Friday and had to take on a much tougher opponent. But Belmont can expect a huge showing from Murray State fans as they’ve packed the Ford Center the past two years.
Whatever the outcome is, OVC fans can expect another classic battle between these two legendary programs.