Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team ambushes Morehead State

Thursday, December 29, 2011
Southeast Missouri State's Marcus Brister struggles to call a timeout as he is double teamed by Morehead State's Terrance Hill, left, and Deandre Mathieu during the first half Wednesday at the Show Me Center. (Kristin Eberts)

Leon Powell provided early energy with two blocks and a vicious follow dunk.

Nick Niemczyk provided early offense with two 3-pointers and a baseline jumper.

Every Southeast Missouri State basketball player to hit the Show Me Center court provided defense rarely displayed by the Redhawks this season.

The result was a dream-like Ohio Valley Conference opener for Southeast, which scored the game's first 15 points and routed Morehead State 67-51 on Wednesday night.

An announced season-high crowd of 2,164 saw the Redhawks improve to 6-7 with their second consecutive win.

Southeast Missouri State's Tyler Stone puts up a shot against Morehead State's Kahlil Owens, left, and Terrance Hill during the first half Wednesday at the Show Me Center. (Kristin Eberts)

The defending OVC tournament champion Eagles, who had won eight consecutive against Southeast, fell to 6-8.

"I'm very proud of our team tonight," Southeast coach Dickey Nutt said. "It's a super win."

Niemczyk, a junior guard, hit a 3-pointer for the game's opening basket.

Powell's slam off a missed shot 3 minutes, 22 seconds into the contest made it 5-0 -- after he already had recorded two blocks.

"It set the tempo for our 'D', 'cause once we're playing 'D,' we can't be stopped," said Powell, a senior forward. "We started off good."

Niemczyk added five more points and junior guard Marland Smith provided five points, including two free throws that made it 15-0 less than eight minutes in.

"It kind of clicked because our defense started real well. They didn't score for a while," Niemczyk said.

For the first 8 minutes, 13 seconds, to be exact.

"I thought we settled for too many jump shots early in the game and we committed some costly turnovers," MSU coach Donnie Tyndall said. "Give Southeast Missouri credit. I think they're going to be a surprise team in the OVC this year. They are very talented and they're going to beat some people."

While Southeast excelled in most areas Wednesday, Nutt and his players pointed to defense, which had been a sore spot for the Redhawks.

"Defense is the main thing," Smith said. "We want to get up and down the court. If we don't get stops, we can't get up and down the court."

MSU entered the night second in the OVC in 3-point shooting at 37.6 percent, while Southeast ranked last in 3-point defense at 42.3 percent.

What looked like an area of advantage for the Eagles never materialized. They missed their first seven from beyond the arc and finished 4 of 20 (20 percent).

Senior guards Terrance Hill and Ty Proffitt, both shooting better than 38 percent from long range, combined to go 2 of 8.

"Our main focus was trying to get out on the shooters and make them hit hard shots," Smith said.

Southeast allowed a season-low point total while limiting the Eagles to 40.4 percent from the field.

"I thought defensively we set the tone," Nutt said. "I was most proud of the way we came out with a lot of intensity."

The Redhawks barely let up after building their quick 15-point advantage.

MSU cut the deficit to 21-13, but Southeast answered with nine straight points, capped by a Smith 3-pointer with 4:09 left before halftime.

It was 33-19 at the break, and MSU only got as close as 12 points early in the second half. Southeast led by at least 14 points for the final 16 minutes and the biggest advantage was 22 points.

"This is the first time we've played close to 40 minutes since way back," said Nutt, mentioning early season losses at Missouri and Bradley. "It's a good feeling."

The Redhawks' offense didn't have to take a back seat while Southeast's defense sparkled.

Southeast shot 51.1 percent from the floor (24 of 47), its best mark against a Division I opponent this year.

The Redhawks made 9 of 19 3-pointers (47.4 percent) and committed just 11 turnovers while holding a 32-25 rebounding advantage.

"Our shot selection was excellent. We rebounded," Nutt said.

Smith led a balanced offensive attack with 14 points. He added seven rebounds, three steals and two assists.

Niemczyk hit 3 of 6 3-pointers and scored 13 points.

Junior college transfer guard Corey Wilford scored a season-high 13 points off the bench, including 10 in the second half. He hit 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.

Powell added 11 points and sophomore forward Tyler Stone was a fifth double-figure scorer with 10 points. Stone led in rebounding with nine and assists with four.

Southeast got a boost from the return of senior guard Marcus Brister, who had played only a few minutes the past two games due to a knee injury.

Brister, who started at the point Wednesday, dished out three assists.

"I thought everybody that played added something," Nutt said.

The Redhawks play the second of two consecutive OVC home games to start the conference schedule Monday when Jacksonville State visits for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.

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