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2014 CIT Semis: Racers Sprint Past Pacific 98-75

The second game of the CIT semis was a real clash of styles. Murray State is young and fast while Pacific is old and deliberate. This one went to the kids.

Murray State's Cameron Payne.
Murray State's Cameron Payne.
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

A frenetic pace opened the game. Neither team was playing efficient basketball, but the sheer number of possessions allowed the Tigers and Racers to make it to ten points in just over five minutes. While Murray State only averages a possession-and-a-half per game more than Pacific, the Racers are true to their nickname.

The Tigers implemented a token full court press to slow the Racers on the break and force them into half court sets. Pacific is much better on defense and offense in the half court. So, after that five minute, 10 all spurt, the Tigers slowed the game and pulled out to a five point lead over the next five minutes.

Most of the turnaround had to do with the tempo, but it was aided by the absence of two Murray State starters, Jarvis Williams and Dexter Fields. Both picked up two quick fouls and went to the bench.

Murray State head coach Steve Prohm decided to put both of them back in the game after the Tigers' took their five point lead. The gamble initially looked ill-advised, as Williams picked up his third foul with 7:01 to play.

However, the Racers stormed back down the stretch of the first half. With fast break points and quick half court sets.

After trailing by five through the middle of the half, the Racers built an 11 point lead going into the break. Cameron Payne, and an overabundance of fouls against the Tigers, turned the game around in the Racers' favor. It seemed down the stretch that the Tigers were completely unwilling to guard Cameron Payne. He had 21 first half points.

The second half picked up right where the first left off. Murray State just ran over Pacific. An 18-0 run spanned the break and pushed the Racers' lead to 20 points. That run would max out at 33-7.

Cameron Payne was the dominant Racer in the first half but he failed to score in the second. A total team effort made the second half Racers and Tigers look like a D-I vs. non-D-I game. Jarvis Williams led the way in the second, with 14 of his 18 points.

As the half wound down, the Racers' lead hovered in the mid-20s and the score approached 100. Unwilling to walk the ball up the court, or run much of a half-court offense, the Racers just kept jacking threes. Finally, after a C.J. Ford alley-oop dunk with 40 seconds left, Steve Prohm told his Racers to slow down.

Final: 98-75 Racers.

The CIT likes to advertise itself as a tournament that sets up its teams and players for future successes. Just look at the commercials featuring Jeremy Lin and Damian Lillard. The Tigers, while they will lose much of their roster this offseason, got a bit of that CIT set-up. Freshman forward David Taylor scored the team high 18 points. His season average? Just 3.2.

Cameron Payne led the Racers with 21 points while T.J. Sapp and Jarvis Williams added 18 a piece.

With the win the Racers advance to Thursday's CIT Final where they will meet Yale. It could be another clash of styles, as Yale punched its ticket by handling the nation's top scoring offense, VMI, in the semis. Murray State is the nation's 31st best scoring offense.