Morehead St. helps tip off tourney

Tuesday, March 17, 2009
MARK HUMPHREY ~ Associated Press
Morehead State players celebrate after beating Austin Peay 67-65 in double overtime in the championship game of the Ohio Valley Conference in Nashville, Tenn.

DAYTON, Ohio -- Neither Alabama State nor Morehead State has been to the NCAA tournament recently. But Alabama State's five-year absence pales to that of Morehead State, which hasn't played in the tourney for a quarter century.

"It makes it very special," Morehead State coach Donnie Tyndall said Monday.

The two teams meet tonight in the opening round of the tournament in Dayton for the right to take on top-seeded Louisville on Friday.

The school from Morehead, Ky., is making its first tournament appearance since 1984, when it defeated North Carolina A&T only to lose to Louisville in the second round.

"When I took over three years ago, I feel the community had kind of lost touch with the basketball program," Tyndall said.

The team has since actively sought to get the students more involved, meeting and greeting them at the student union on game days.

"I have a great deal of passion and pride about Morehead State," Tyndall said. "I feel that everyone in town and at the university feels that they are part of this."

Morehead State, 19-15, qualified for the tournament by winning the Ohio Valley Conference tourney, defeating Austin Peay 67-65 in double overtime on Steve Peterson's jump shot with 1.4 seconds left. Leon Buchanan is a power for the Eagles, averaging 15.1 points a game.

Alabama State (22-9), from Montgomery, made the tournament in 2004, losing in the first round to Duke.

The Southwestern Athletic Conference champions are led by Brandon Brooks, who averages 13.8 points and 6.8 assists. Andrew Hayles, who made three 3-pointers during a pivotal stretch of the SWAC title game to beat Jackson State, averages 13.6 points per game.

The Hornets have won 13 of their last 14 games.

"The strength of their team is probably the fact that they are so experienced," Tyndall said. "Their team is well put together. Their coach does a very good job. The right guy takes the right shots."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: