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OVC Semifinal – Southeast Missouri State vs. Murray State: how to watch and preview

After a win over Tennessee State, Southeast Missouri State advances to play Murray State tonight

NCAA Basketball: Belmont at Murray State
KJ Williams won the OVC Player of the Year award, and Matt McMahon was named the conference’s coach of the year.
Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Top seed Murray State will begin its quest for an Ohio Valley Conference tonight in the semifinals against No. 4 Southeast Missouri State.

The Racers went undefeated in conference play at 18-0 and posted a 28-2 record in the regular season. Their two losses came at the hands of Auburn, who was ranked No. 1 in the country earlier this season, and East Tennessee.

Murray State features OVC Player of the Year KJ Williams and Coach of the Year Matt McMahon. Williams tallied an OVC-best 18.2 points per game and the second-most rebounds at 8.5 per contest. McMahon oversaw a 15-win improvement for the Racers, who finished 13-13 a season ago.

The Racers posed the best defense in the conference by yielding 61.7 points per game. Their offense placed second at 79.3 points, just one-tenth behind Belmont.

They were in some close battles down the stretch in the regular season. Over their final three games of the regular season, they picked up two-point victories over UT Martin and Southeast Missouri State as well as a 76-43 rout of second-place Belmont.

Meanwhile, the Redhawks topped fifth-seeded Tennessee State 79- 55 in the quarterfinals yesterday. They led by 16 at halftime. They outscored the Tigers by 30 points from beyond the 3-point line (11 triples to one). Eric Reed Jr. netted a team-high 22 points, and Manny Patterson posted a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double.

SEMO advanced to the semifinals for the first time in 17 years.

Southeast Missouri State finished dead last in the conference in scoring defense by giving up 76.9 points. Its offense was third best at 75.6.

On the glass, Murray State was the OVC’s best rebounding team, while SEMO came in ninth (out of 10) in rebounding margin.

How to watch

TV: ESPNU 8 p.m. ET

Streaming: ESPN App, WatchESPN.com

Live Stats: OVC Championship Stats

Arena: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.

DraftKings Line: Murray State -16, O/U 152

(Odds/lines subject to change. Visit DraftKings for more information.)