Murray State wins the Great Alaska Shootout

Anchorage Daily NewsNovember 26, 2011 

Murray State's Isaiah Canaan and Stacy Wilson put on a show Saturday at the Sullivan Arena, combining for 18 of their team's 21 overtime points to carry the Racers to a 90-81 win over Southern Mississippi, the first double-overtime victory in the 34-year history of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout.

Wilson was an unlikely hero. After scoring five points and playing 13 minutes in regulation, he exploded for eight points in the final five minutes. His game-changing plays included a deep 3-pointer, a long 2-point jumper and an emphatic dunk that put the Racers up 84-76 with 1:21 on the clock. When his feet hit the floor following the dunk, Wilson pumped his fist.

"That changed the game, that really changed the momentum," he said. "We stuck together and got it done as a team."

Canaan's 10 overtime points gave the 6-foot guard 36 points and tied him for the eighth highest single-game point total in the Shootout's 34-year history.

The game was tied 69-69 after regulation and 72-72 after the first overtime. In the first overtime, LeShay Page drained a deep 3-pointer to give Southern Miss its first lead of the game, 72-69. Canaan answered with a bomb of his own to send it to another overtime.

Murray State (7-0) followed a pattern in all three of its Shootout games, building leads only to see them dissipate. When the Racers built their final lead against Southern Miss (4-2), they did so in thrilling fashion.

"That's fitting," Murray State's first-year coach Steve Prohm said. "We played three close games and we learned a lot. It's great for this team to be a part of this."

Murray State beat San Francisco by three points in the semifinals, after squeaking past UAA 64-62 in the first round.

When the Racers needed a big play Saturday, Canaan was almost always in the mix. Whether he was grabbing one of his eight rebounds or hitting one of his game-high six 3-pointers, he came through again and again.

"Players win games," Prohm said. "Coaches just get 'em to the gym. Isaiah was tremendous."

Canaan scored seven points in the second overtime, including an amazing drive down the right lane to begin the period and a 3-pointer from the left corner that put the Racers up 80-72 with just more than two minutes remaining.

Canaan posed a little when he released his final trey, as if he knew the ball would find the bottom of the net, but he still looked as calm as could be as he jogged back up the court, a trademark of his play throughout the tournament.

"I gotta stay calm," Canaan said. "I don't like to show a lot of emotion unless it's good."

Even when Canaan would make a rare mistake, like the moment he dribbled a ball off his leg early in the first overtime. He just wrinkled his forehead and kept chewing his gum and got back on defense. When crunch time arrived, Canaan knew the ball needed to be in his hands.

"I knew a lot of effort was going to come from me. I can't take any plays off," Canaan said. "I was tired, but I had to push through it."

The Golden Eagles were kept in the game by Angelo Johnson, who scored 11 first-half points on 4 of 7 shooting.

Johnson, who finished with a team-high 29 points, repeatedly pressured the Murray State defense with hard drives to the rim in the early going of the second half. Jonathan Mills was another spark plug for Southern Miss. Six of his eight rebounds were offensive and most of his 12 points were a result of taking those offensive boards back to the rim with force.

Page (16 points) said the Golden Eagles played with higher energy in the second half, in large part because of a halftime speech from coach Larry Eustachy.

"Coach went in there and motivated us, told us we weren't playing as hard as we could," Page said.

Page's big 3-pointer was one of two shots made in the first overtime. Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, the other was 3-pointer from Canaan with 53 seconds left.

"To be in Alaska, in a place I thought I never woulda been, it feels great," said Canaan.

Reach Jeremy Peters at or 257-4335.

MURRAY STATE (90) -- Canaan 11-22 8-8 36; Wilson 5-9 1-2 13; Poole 4-8 2-2 12; Long 4-8 2-4 10; Daniel 2-4 4-7 8; Aska 3-9 0-1 6; Garrett 1-1 1-1 3; Mushatt 1-1 0-0 2; Jackson,Zay 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-62 18-25 90.

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (81) -- Johnson 10-21 6-7 29; Page 5-13 4-4 16; Watson 3-10 5-5 12; Mills 4-8 4-5 12; McGill 1-6 5-6 7; Bolden 1-3 0-0 3; Pelham 1-5 0-0 2; Phillips 0-0 0-0 0; Jenkins 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-67 24-27 81.

Murray State 39 30 3 18 -- 90

Southern Miss 27 42 3 9 -- 81

3-point goals -- Murray State 10-21 (Canaan 6-11; Poole 2-5; Wilson 2-4; Long 0-1), Southern Mississippi 7-22 (Johnson 3-5; Page 2-10; Bolden 1-1; Watson 1-4; McGill 0-2). Fouled out -- Poole. Rebounds -- Murray State 41 (Daniel 9), Southern Miss 36 (Mills 8). Assists -- Murray State 15 (Long 5), Southern Miss 6 (Johnson 3). Total fouls -- Murray State 21, Southern Mississippi 21. Turnovers -- Murray 18 (Canaan 6), Southern Miss 15 (Watson 5). Blocked shots -- Murray State 7 (Daniel 3), Southern Miss 2. Steals -- Murray State 8 (3 with 2), Southern Miss 9 (Pelham 5). Officials -- Stith, Hernandez, Lujan.

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