Southeast's season will continue as a result.
The Redhawks built a 17-point lead in the first half and never trailed during Wednesday's 75-65 win over eighth-seeded Eastern Kentucky in the opening round of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.
"We played good. We knew we could do it, even though the last four games we've been struggling," Southeast sophomore point guard Lucas Nutt said. "We knew there was no tomorrow."
The fifth-seeded Redhawks (15-15) will play fourth-seeded Tennessee Tech (18-12) at 6 p.m. today in the quarterfinals of the eight-team event at Municipal Auditorium.
Tech, which received a first-round bye, won this year's lone meeting between the squads 77-62 on Jan. 21 in Cookeville, Tenn.
"They're a good team. We just have to come out ready to play," Southeast junior guard Marland Smith said.
EKU (16-16) also beat Southeast in their only matchup this season, 63-59 on Jan. 7 in Richmond, Ky. But the Redhawks turned the tables on EKU for the second straight year.
The Colonels won both regular-season meetings against Southeast in 2010-11 before the Redhawks beat EKU by 16 points for their first OVC tournament win since 2004-05.
"When the tournament starts, it's a new season. We played like it tonight," Southeast coach Dickey Nutt said. "I really feel good about our performance. This was the most unselfish [Southeast] team I've seen in a while."
The Redhawks were in control throughout and led for all but a few moments. The only tie was at 2-2. Southeast scored the next 13 points, later led 36-17 and entered halftime up 38-28. EKU made several runs in the second half but never got closer than five points.
"We obviously got too deep in the hole tonight to win this game," EKU coach Jeff Neubauer said.
Southeast dominated inside against perimeter-oriented EKU. Senior forward Leon Powell and sophomore forward Tyler Stone led the way for the Redhawks.
"I thought our bigs were really good tonight," coach Nutt said. "Leon Powell was special."
Powell scored 12 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked four shots. Stone also had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end.
The Redhawks outscored EKU 40-28 in the paint and had a 44-33 rebounding advantage. Southeast had a 16-11 edge on the offensive glass, which led to an 18-9 advantage in second-chance points.
"I told Tyler at the beginning of the game, 'Let's try to dominate the game,'" Powell said.
Southeast also got strong performances from Smith and Lucas Nutt, who started in place of senior Marcus Brister. Brister did not play after breaking unspecified team rules.
"Nothing major," said coach Nutt, who added that Brister will be available today. "I thought he handled it very well. I was prepared to use him if needed, but we were playing very well."
Smith led the Redhawks with 20 points despite making just one 3-pointer. Smith, who scored 14 points in the second half, hit 9 of 13 free throws.
"We talked to Marland about being a scorer. He did a super job of attacking," coach Nutt said.
Lucas Nutt dished out a season-high 11 assists, one shy of his career high, against just two turnovers. He added nine points.
"Lucas really ran our complete team tonight," coach Nutt said about his son.
Southeast shot 49.1 percent from the field after the Redhawks had not shot better than 40.4 percent during their four-game losing streak. They hit 51.5 percent in the first half.
The Redhawks held EKU to 40.3 percent and committed just 10 turnovers against 17 assists.
Senior guard Jaron Jones, EKU's top scorer, led the Colonels with 28 points. Senior guard Joshua Jones added 17 points.
"They're a very explosive team," coach Nutt said. "Defensively we kept them a little off-balance."
EKU cut the deficit to 56-51 with a little more than eight minutes left. Southeast built the lead back to 11 with less than three minutes remaining. The Colonels pulled within six points three more times but got no closer.
"Give all credit to SEMO. They played a good game," Joshua Jones said.
Southeast now has posted OVC tournament wins in consecutive years for only the second time. The other time came during the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons when Southeast reached the finals both times.
The Redhawks will have to beat a high-scoring Tennessee Tech squad that tied with Southeast for fourth place in the OVC in order to make the semifinals for the first time since 2004-05.
"They're a talented team, but so are we," Lucas Nutt said. "We just have to come out ready to play."
Today's winner will advance to Friday's semifinals against ninth-ranked, top-seeded Murray State.
Southeast and Tech both lost to the Racers twice this year.