Tourney bound

Former Crestwood standout Morant helps Murray State reach NCAAs

BY DENNIS BRUNSON dennis@theitem.com
Posted 3/7/18

Ja Morant's decision to play college basketball with Murray State University could not have had a much better outcome in his freshman season.

And there may be more good yet to come.

Morant, the former Crestwood High School standout guard, was …

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Tourney bound

Former Crestwood standout Morant helps Murray State reach NCAAs

Posted

Ja Morant's decision to play college basketball with Murray State University could not have had a much better outcome in his freshman season.

And there may be more good yet to come.

Morant, the former Crestwood High School standout guard, was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference first team. Now he is waiting for his first chance to play in the NCAA tournament.

The Racers were the first team in the country to secure a berth in the 68-team field with their 68-51 victory Belmont on Saturday in the OVC tournament championship game in Evansville, Ind.

MSU now has to wait until Sunday to see where it will be seeded, who it will be playing and where it will play. That's when the pairings will be announced.

Murray State is 26-5 on the season and owns the nation's longest winning streak of 13 games. The Racers won the OVC regular-season title as well before winning their 16th OVC tourney crown.

Morant played a big role in MSU's two tournament victories. In a 70-63 semifinal win over Jacksonville State, Morant scored 11 points, dished out eight assists and had three rebounds in 39 minutes,

In the win over Belmont, Morant scored 15 points to go with five rebounds and five assists in 34 minutes of action.

Morant was named to the all-tournament team along with most valuable player Jonathan Stark and Terrell Miller Jr., both seniors. Stark, who is the OVC Player of the Year, and Miller are All-OVC first teamers as well.

The 6-foot-3-inch Morant not only carried his ability to score and distribute the ball with him to Murray State, he has also continued to be the rebounding force he was at Crestwood.

Entering the OVC tournament, Morant was ranked 20th in the OVC in scoring at 12.6 points per game, 10th in rebounding at 6.8 and second in assists with 7.3 per game.

Four times this season, Morant reach double digits in rebounds. He had a season high 12 against Saint Louis and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. His 14 assists against Eastern Illinois was third all-time in a single-game at MSU.

In that game, Morant became just the second Racer (in records that start in 1984), to record a triple-double when he had 11 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists.

Morant was named OVC Freshman of the Week four times in the regular season.

Morant will carry averages of 12.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists into the NCAA tournament.