A look at the guard oriented offense of Murray State
The Murray State Racers are here to stay and will continue to be in the national spotlight as long as they stay undefeated. While their overall strength of schedule is not very strong, they do have a good win over Memphis to accompany some solid victories over Southern Mississippi and Dayton, proving that they are for real. Their offense is the bread and butter to their success, as they have an adjusted efficiency of 109.8, 39th in the nation. They have had only one game below one point per possession, their win against UAB where they only managed 0.95 PPP.
The offense is dominated by guard penetration, led by Isaiah Canaan, who has an offensive rating of 125.5. Murray State runs few sets but relies on pick and rolls and dribble penetration to open up the floor. They space the floor with shooters who shoot 43.5% from beyond the arc (6th in the country). This allows their guards to find lanes for their dribble drives, which helps them shoot 51% on two point shots.
Here is a shot from a drive by Zay Jackson (the second clip in the video below). You can see one of the defenders scrambling out to Canaan, a dangerous three point shooter. With no help, Jackson is able to slice through the lane to the rim. Murray State also keeps a forward on the block, who opens up to the middle of the floor when his teammate drives to be available for the dump off pass.
The guards are strong enough on the ball that they can beat their defender easily, even without a ball screen. With three point shooters spacing the floor and a teammate on the baseline for support, they have space in the middle of the paint to get to the rim and finish.
As previously stated, Murray State is one of the best three point shooting teams in the country. This forces teams to choose whether to help on dribble penetration or stay in the chest of shooters. As seen in the frame above, if the defense prioritizes the shooter, the ball handler has the lane to the rim. However, if they help on the ball, shooters are left wide open.
Again, the offense features few screens other than ball screens and it is up to the guards to read the defense and either take the ball to the rim or kick out to shooters. In the below clips, the defense sags on the ball, leaving shooters open at the three point line. In this game against Eastern Illinois, the defense often helped on the ball which allowed Murray State to shoot 12-22 (54.5%) from the three point line.
The Racer offense is excellent, even though it is fairly simple. It relies on guard penetration, flanked by excellent three point shooters, both of which they have this season. The guards have the onus to read the defense and recognize whether they have the lane to the rim or if they have open three point shooters. As long as they continue to make the right decisions, they will continue to be a great offense.