As the final buzzer rang in Murray, Kentucky, one thing was clear, the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky are legitimate threat to the rest of the Ohio Valley Conference.
From the tip, it was clear the Colonels were out to prove something, opening the game on a 7-0 run. But what was most impressive was how they made the Racers, often seen as the power of the conference, play EKU’s game. After an 11-0 run by the Racers to take the lead, the Colonels exploded with 24-0 run of their own on the road and never looked back on their way to 77-65 win at the CFSB Center.
After the win, Eastern Kentucky coach Jeff Neubauer stressed how the Colonels have changed their defense and become more aggressive, forcing the Racers into 17 turnovers and turning those mishaps into 29 points.
Making the win even more impressive for Eastern Kentucky was the absence of leading scorer Glenn Cosey, who missed the game with an apparent broken finger, an injury that flew mostly under the radar. In his absence, Neubauer praised his team for their effort in Cosey absence, saying that stepping up is what good teams do. “That happens quite a bit. When a guys’s out, other guys step up. Our guys really did compete tonight.”
Neubauer called out one player on his performance, adding how great a presence Corey Walden has been off the bench for the Colonels this year.
Big picture this is huge, a confidence booster for the team. After the win, “We are a great team,” Eastern Kentucky guard Mike DiNunno said, “we have guys that no one knows about and we are showing it.” DiNunno added he wasn’t surprised being up 20 on Murray State and while it may be considered cocky, I think that’s what needs to be said. I see it as confident and Eastern Kentucky is showing it.
By the way it’s true, this team was undervalued quite heavily as I had them 9th in the conference overall and 5th in the division.
Coming into tonight I saw Tennessee State and Belmont as the best teams in the eastern division of the conference. Tonight, as I tweeted during the game, we can no longer be shocked that Eastern Kentucky is playing at this level.
They have sent a message and I’m sure the rest of the conference will be focused when the play the Colonels.