Martin Luther King Day presents an important matchup in the SIAC as the Miles Golden Bears face the Kentucky State Thorobreds for sole possession of the first-place spot in the SIAC West division.
On Saturday, Kentucky State defeated Central State 75-71 improving to 8-2 in SIAC play (9-3 overall) tying them with Miles at the top of the SIAC West.
Meanwhile, Tuskegee suffered a 70-60 upset loss to Lemoyne-Owen dropping them to 8-3 in a game that would have catapulted them into first place in the division with a win.
Miles has won five of their last six meetings against Kentucky State with their last loss coming in February 2019.
This game will be played on the Golden Bears’ home floor where they have won 13 straight games against conference opponents dating back to last season. Meanwhile, Kentucky State is a perfect 4-0 on the road so far this year.
This game is a matchup of the top offense in the SIAC against the top defense in the SIAC. Kentucky State averages 81.1 points per game whiles Miles allows just 58.3 points per game.
As a result of Savannah State’s recent loss to Morehouse, the Miles Golden Bears are currently the hottest team in the SIAC holding a six-game win streak.
These have not been easy wins by any means with three coming down to one possession and five being single-digit win margins.
Miles has been unstoppable against the SIAC West winning their last 14 games and 25 of their last 26 games against divisional opponents.
This, however, will be the Golden Bears’ first game against a division opponent that currently holds a winning record.
Through 12 games so far this season, Kentucky State has already equaled their win total from last season (finished 9-15 in the 2021-2022 season).
The Thorobreds have not finished with an overall winning record since the 2013-2014 season in which they were 15-14.
In addition to being the top-scoring offense in the SIAC, they are also the top rebounding team averaging 42.3 rebounds per game.
This is a critical game for Kentucky State who already holds a loss to Tuskegee. With a matchup against Lemoyne-Owen looming, need to win this game to keep themselves in play for the division title.
Players to Watch
Jay Murrell, Kentucky State
Kentucky State guard Jay Murrell is one of the best all-around players the SIAC has to offer. He ranks in the top 10 in scoring (14.4) while leading the conference in assists (4.7).
Murrell is averaging 14.3 points on 48% shooting, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists in the Thorobreds’ 10 conference games.
He has struggled scoring as of late failing to reach double-digits in each of the last three games after scoring in double figures in each of his first 10 games.
While he is recognized as an all-around player, he will need to be aggressive looking to score against a team that is the top defense in the conference.
Rodney Battle, Miles
Miles guard Rodney Battle has been the Golden Bears’ primary source for scoring all season averaging 16.9 points per game (4th in SIAC).
The junior guard started the season hot averaging 18.8 points through the first 11 games of the season including four 20-point performances.
His scoring has, however, slightly dipped over the last four games including a season-low two points albeit in a win over Albany State.
Battle will need to pick up his production if the Golden Bears want any chance of keeping up with the high-powered offense of Kentucky State.