One by one, college basketball’s undefeated teams have fallen. Only one stands alone and it’s Murray State out of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Racers enter Saturday’s game against Eastern Illinois with a perfect 20-0 answer and certainly have national conversations brewing about where they belong in the rankings or where they’d be seeded in the NCAA tournament.
Murray State put together a pretty decent non-conference slate and has solid victories over Southern Miss, Dayton and at Memphis. But playing in the OVC isn’t really doing the Racers any favors, despite coach Steve Prohm speaking up that the league isn’t given enough credit.
Steve Prohm joined 790 The Zone in Atlanta with Barnhart and Durham to discuss having the bullseye on their backs, the increasing hype, the biggest victories of the season, the early debates on where Murray State should be seeded and the Ohio Valley Conference.
Can you feel the bullseye on you? Are opponents gearing up to try to take down the unbeaten?:
“Yeah, it’s definitely been like that. It’s been exciting, though, as well. We’ve had basically sellouts since we played at Memphis December the 11th. … Every road game that we’ve had in conference has either been sold out or right at capacity. … You’re going to get everybody’s A game and our guys recognize that, so they’ve got to be really dialed in.”
As the hype increases, do you try to keep having discussions with your guys to tell them it’s just another game?:
“It’s been great for our community. They’re having the time of their lives with this. USA Today’s been here, ESPN All Access has been here, the New York Times has been here, CBS Sports is coming down here. It’s been a remarkable run and it’s exciting, but we talked to our team early in the year about just a little slogan that says, ‘Don’t seek honor; honor will find you.’ What that basically means is if you continue to do your job, you do things the right way, you continue to win games and represent this program the right way, all the accolades, the postseason honors and appearances, that will come. One thing that our guys have done a great job with is going practice to practice, game to game, turning the clock, turning the page.”
Nationally, everyone wants to talk about the victory at Memphis, but the one at Austin Peay might have been just as big, right?:
“It’s in conference play now, so every game is so big. The undefeated record’s great, but we’re 8-0 in our conference and our first goal is to win a conference championship. … If you look at all those games, we led Memphis in both halves by 12. We were up 10 or 11 with about a minute to go at Memphis. Austin Peay, we had a very good showing down there, but that’s a huge rivalry. To go down there in a sellout crowd and offensively we played very well down there and were able to get out to a big lead and then withstand many runs by them. … Even going to Morehead and kind of figuring out and grinding out a tough road win there, those road wins like that there … I think those speak volumes for your kids’ character and their resiliency.”
On what will likely become a debate about where Murray State should be seeded:
“There’s no question, but to be in that debate, be in that discussion, that means our program is doing the right things if we’re getting talked about, about what seed we should get. The NCAA committee, they do a great job every year. … The committee, they’ll make the right decisions with seeding. At the end of the regular season, our goal is to put ourselves in a position to where we’re going to get an at-large bid regardless of what happens in the postseason tournament. I think what we’ve done so far, we’ve put ourselves in a great position with three top-35 RPI wins, the most road wins in college basketball up to this point and a very tough nonconference schedule.”
On the basketball being played in the Ohio Valley Conference:
“Our league doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Morehead State finished second in our league last year. We won the regular season. Our second-place team moved on to the second round of the NCAA tournament. And then two years ago, we went to the second round. Two out of the last three years, we had an NBA draft pick in our league.”