Another Classic

Another Classic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Dylan Windler (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Austin Luke (Rowlett, Texas) each scored 21 points as Belmont University men's basketball defeated Murray State, 79-72, Thursday night.

In what has quickly become one of the most compelling rivalries in college basketball, Belmont and Murray State once again lived up to advanced billing in front of a nationally-televised audience.

After a slow start for both teams, six early points from Terrell Miller gave the Racers a 10-5 lead 4:20 in.

Consecutive layins from Luke and junior Mack Mercer (Plymouth, Ind.) stabilized things and got the boisterous Belmont student section going.

Freshman Nick Hopkins (Fayetteville, Tenn.) capped a 9-0 Belmont run with a deep 3-pointer as the Bruins took a 22-16 lead midway through the first half.

Despite not committing a turnover for the opening 11 minutes of the game, Belmont would endure a brief dry spell, as the play of Byron Hawkins and Jalen Dupree gave the visitors a five-point lead.

Murray State led 32-28 at halftime.

Belmont shot 42 percent (11-for-26) from the field in opening 20 minutes - including 6-for-14 from 3-point distance.

The Bruins held Murray State to 37 percent shooting in the first half.

Luke led Belmont with 12 first half points.

Five quick Windler points and a 3-pointer from junior Kevin McClain (Jennings, Fla.) gave Belmont a 38-37 lead with 17:17 left.

The first nine minutes of the second half featured three ties and nine lead changes as both teams showcased high level play.

After Ja Morant gave Murray State a 51-50 lead, a short Hopkins jumper and a deep stepback 3-pointer from Windler gave the Bruins a 55-51 advantage.

Moments later, McClain set up sophomore Seth Adelsperger (Peru, Ind.) - then scored himself - and the 9-0 run pushed the Belmont lead to eight with 9:07 left. 

Meanwhile, Belmont solidified its defensive assignments and rebounding, forcing Murray State into difficult shots and hurried passes.

Luke and Mercer would then combine to score Belmont's next 11 points, making the score 69-57 with 4:48 to go.

Another Windler 3-pointer pushed the lead to 13, 72-59, with 2:47 remaining.

All told, Belmont shot 51 percent (29-for-57) from the field - including 14-for-30 from 3-point distance. Belmont shot 58 percent in the second half.

Aside from Windler and Luke's 21 points each, Mercer added 15 points and seven rebounds.

Jonathan Stark led Murray State (13-5, 5-2 OVC) with 19 points.

Belmont (14-6, 6-1 OVC) returns to game action Saturday, Jan. 20 vs. Austin Peay. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. CT from the Curb Event Center. The game will be broadcast on WUXP-TV MyTV30. In-game updates will be available via Twitter @BelmontMBB.

NOTES: Belmont improves to 7-6 all-time vs. Murray State, 6-2 in OVC play ... Belmont has won four straight in the series ... Belmont outscored Murray State, 25-17, in points off the bench ... Burton Sampson scored for the second straight game ... Mercer scored a season-high 19 points vs. Green Bay (12/2/17).