The Racers (23-11) won four games in the CIT to become the sixth champion of the event that began in 2009 and just the second-ever to do it on their home court.
The game started with amazing energy from a revved up crowd at the CFSB and the Racers getting out to a 7-0 lead. Despite the early lead, the Racers were put to a test by a very game Yale (19-14) team. The Bulldogs kept pace with the Racers and ended the half with a 7-3 run to cut the MSU lead to 27-26 at the intermission.
In the second half, the Bulldogs carried over that momentum and led early in the stanza at 28-27. However, the Racers quickly turned the tables with a 10-0 run to lead by 11 at 46-35 with 10 minutes to play. Yale would simply not go away as it answered with its own 10-0 run, cutting the lead to a single point with just over seven minutes left in the contest.
The Racers pushed through and made seven of nine free throws in the final two minutes to hold on for the 8-point win. Playing a key factor in the victory was a record-tying 14 blocks by MSU as Jarvis Williams and Jonathan Fairell each had five for their career-highs.
Cameron Payne led MSU with 24 points, while Jarvis Williams added 16 by going 8-for-8 from the field to go along with five blocks. Fairell added nine rebounds to his five blocks, while Payne pulled down seven boards.
Payne and Williams scored 40 of MSU’s 65 points.
Following the game, Payne was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, while Williams and Yale’s Justin Sears and Javier Duren were named to the All-Tournament team.
The Racers claimed their first post-season title of any kind since winning the 2012 OVC Tournament. The win was their first non-OVC tournament championship since winning the Great Alaska Shootout in 2011.
MSU is the first CIT champion to win on its home court since Santa Clara did it in 2011. In the last two CIT’s, East Carolina had won at Weber State last year and Mercer won at Utah State in 2012. This year was the sixth staging of the CIT after it was launched in 2009.
The Racers displayed some great defense in their five-game run to the CIT title. MSU held teams to 66.0 points per game and recorded 36 blocked shots and 37 steals. Opponents only managed 38 percent from the field against the Racers including 29 percent from 3-point range.
Cameron Payne, the CIT MVP, scored 20.6 points per game, grabbed 5.2 rebounds and dished out 5.0 assists. Jarvis Williams, named to the CIT All-Tournament Team, scored 17.2 ppg and grabbed 7.4 rebounds. He shot an amazing 71 percent from the field on 35-of-49 shots. Williams also blocked 17 shots.
The Racers set a record for most home games played in a season with 18. MSU was 17-1 at home this season with their only loss coming to Middle Tennessee (Nov. 26). MSU will carry a 15-game win streak into the 2014-15 season. The Racers are 39-6 at home in the Prohm era.
MSU Head Coach Steve Prohm is 75-23 in his three seasons with the Racers for a winning percentage of .765.
MSU’s five-game win streak to finish the season matches their longest of the season. MSU also won five in a row from Jan. 2-16.
Ending a season is a rare event and today marks the first time MSU has done this since 1978. Although the last time it happened, it was because of a poor season. MSU was 8-17 in 1977-78 and didn’t qualify for the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament with a mark of 4-10. On Feb. 25, the Racers ended the season with an 85-84 win over Austin Peay at Racer Arena.
Cameron Payne, the second MSU freshman to score 500 points, had 24 tonight and finished with 572 for 24th place on the MSU all-time single-season list. Lamont Sleets was the first MSU freshman to do it with 522 points in the 1979-80 season.
Payne finished second on the assist list with 185. Chad Townsend (1996-97) has the top spot with 212.