Men's Basketball Pounds Eastern Kentucky, 65-49
March 2, 2011
By Jeff Honza
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Marland Smith posted his first career double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead seventh-seeded Southeast Missouri (10-21) to a commanding 65-49 victory over sixth-seeded Eastern Kentucky (15-16) Wednesday night in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
Southeast, which earned its first OVC Tournament win since 2005, held EKU to a mere .281 (16-of-57) field goal percentage on the night. The Redhawk defense also limited the Colonels to a season-low 49 points.
"I thought we executed offensively and defensively and played at a high level tonight," said Southeast head coach Dickey Nutt. "These guys refused to lose."
Southeast used a swarming defense to dismantle an EKU offense which shot a combined 51 percent in two games against the Redhawks earlier this year.
The Redhawks, clinging to a 39-38 lead with 14:24 left in the game, held EKU scoreless for a span of 7:15. During that time, Southeast went on a 13-0 run to put the game out of reach.
Second-team All-OVC and All-Newcomer Team selection Leon Powell scored six points and Smith drained a three-pointer to key the decisive surge which ended when Marcus Brister made a pair of free throws to give the Redhawks a 52-38 lead with just under eight minutes remaining.
Lucas Nutt's free throws later gave Southeast its biggest lead at 65-43 with two minutes left, before the Redhawks put the win on ice.
Southeast came out on fire, sinking 10-of-16 field goals for a scorching 62.5 percent in the first half.
Neither EKU or Southeast led by more than six points in a back-and-forth opening period which saw six ties and four lead changes.
The Redhawks knocked down five three-pointers, including four by Marland Smith. Smith, who finished with 13 first-half points, gave Southeast its six-point cushion (8-2) with his first trey just three minutes into the game.
Southeast shot 71.4 percent (5-of-7) and only missed twice from behind the arc en route to grabbing a 29-28 edge at the break. The Redhawks hit five or more three-pointers in the first half for the third time this season.
All of Smith's field goals were threes, as he finished at 6-of-10 from behind the arc. He played all 40 minutes. Smith's six three-pointers matched a career-high.
"We were patient on offense and I was getting open looks," said Smith. "Shots were falling for me."
Powell followed with 12 points, including nine in the second half. He also dished out a career-high seven assists.
"It feels good to win, but I'm not used to just winning one game in a tournament," said Powell. "We have a lot of work to do."
Brister added 11 points off the bench, while Nutt chipped in 10.
Southeast shot a season-high 58.3 percent (21-of-36) from the field. The Redhawks also made 8-of-12 three-pointers for a season-best 66.7 percent clip.
Joshua Jones led the Colonels with 15 points.
Southeast advances to the quarterfinals to face third-seeded Austin Peay Thursday. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m, CT, at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium.