When talking to fans and other media members here in Nashville, there hasn’t been much agreement on anything…
Unless you were talking about the first men’s game in the tournament. Because then it was almost unanimous: Eastern Kentucky would get bounced in the first round.
Turns out, it didn’t even take that long.
The Redhawks opened their trip to the OVC Tournament on a 15-2 run over the first 6:30, and were able to put the game on cruise control, extending their trip in Nashville with a 75-65 win over Eastern Kentucky.
And they did it without Marcus Brister who sat out after being late to a team meeting, according to head coach Dickie Nutt.
In the first half, the Redhawks avoided most every trap that’s cost them games this season: Leon Powell didn’t have a single foul in the first half, and the Redhawks only turned over the ball 4 times. They still struggled from the free throw line, though.
Colonels head coach Jeff Neubauer was anything but shy about calling timeouts to try and keep his team, taking 4 in the first 15:02 of the game. Despite good performances from the not related Jaron Jones and Joshua Jones, the pressure zone just couldn’t create turnovers like in the teams first matchup, and as a result EKU had no answer for SEMO’s offense.
EKU was able to keep up offensively with the Redhawks throughout the second half, but couldn’t get enough stops, and keep SEMO off the boards when they did get a miss, to ever really threaten.
Stone, Powell Impress: Most of the season, they’ve been billed as the best frontcourt in the OVC. Tonight, they reminded us why. Stone and Powell both finish with double-doubles, and combined for 12 offensive rebounds. Even better, both stayed out of foul trouble.
Non-bother Jones’ go out on high note: In their final games in a Eastern Kentucky uniform, the two Jones’ scored 45 of EKU’s 65 points. Both took a lot of shots from the field, but to be fair, most of those shots were good looks. During the post game press conference, it was clear both were trying, and failing, to hold back tears.
Biggest difference between first matchup and this: One word: Turnovers. Tonight, just 10 turnovers, compared to 17 in the first matchup. A few of those turnovers came in desperation time for EKU, including a cheap steal with less than 5 seconds left.
SEMO’s FT Problem: Although I’m fully aware there’s not a thing the Redhawks can do about this now, 17-33 from the free throw line is not going to help them win 4 games in 4 days. It’s going to have the opposite effect. It’s been a problem all season long. SEMO couldn’t even make the Colonels pay for a late game technical over a questionable foul call, missing 3 of 4 at the line.
Neubauer’s future: I wanted to ask Neubauer about this at the post game press conference, but something told me that wasn’t the time. (His short responses and the two players in near-tears beside him) I still think Neubauer’s seat is probably a little warm for comfort, but I don’t know if he’s done so bad that he would get cut if he has any years left on his contract. That being said, I still have no idea what the status of his contract is, so it’s hard to make a real prediction.
Quick thoughts on SEMO vs Tech: The Redhawks 2nd game will likely not go as smoothly as their first. Although Tech has been the ultimate enigma in league play this year, they’re more talented on the offensive side of the ball than Eastern Kentucky, and have better rebounders.
Quote of the Night: When asked about playing Tennessee Tech tomorrow, Marland Smith has a simple formula for winning. “We stop them, [Dillard and Murphy] we should get the win.” If only it was that simple, Marland.