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OVC-leading Morehead State smothers Southeast
MOREHEAD, Ky. -- Morehead State's Eagles showed Southeast Missouri State University why they have quickly jumped to the top of the Ohio Valley Conference standings.
It took the Eagles only 10 minutes to build a 10-point lead Saturday night. That advantage soon grew to 19, and MSU cruised to a 77-63 victory at Johnson Arena.
MSU, which recently ended two-time defending OVC champion Tennessee Tech's 33-game home winning streak, improved to 8-5 overall and 4-0 in the league. Southeast fell to 6-8 and 1-2.
"Morehead State has a very good team, and they really handed it to us," Southeast coach Gary Garner said. "We didn't play nearly as well as we could have, but you've got to give them a lot of credit for that. They played really good defense and made it tough on us offensively.
"We never could get anything going offensively. We missed shots and let them build a big lead."
The Eagles romped despite not getting a huge offensive performance from star swingman Ricky Minard, who entered the contest as the OVC's second-leading scorer at 21.9 points per game.
Minard scored just 11 points after he attempted only seven field goals, making two. The 6-foot-4 junior had five assists.
Senior guard Chez Marks paced the Eagles with 26 points. Sophomore guard Kyle Hankins came off the bench and added 13 points, all in the first half.
"Ricky showed a lot of maturity by not taking bad shots," MSU coach Kyle Macy said. "Other guys really stepped up, like Marks and Hankins."
The Indians got 21 points from sophomore guard Derek Winans, who hit seven of 15 shots from the field. Junior center Brandon Griffin added 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. But no other Southeast player scored more than nine points as the Indians as a team shot just 42.3 percent (22 of 52).
MSU shot 51 percent (26 of 51) and forced 19 turnovers while committing only 12 turnovers.
"They've got a really good team and we just never really could get anything going," Winans said. "It's disappointing to come in here and not be able to give them a better game."
Southeast scored the game's first basket as Winans buried a 3-pointer just 35 seconds into the contest. The Indians also led 8-5 after a Winans 17-footer with 15:38 left in the opening half.
But that was about the extent of the good news for the Indians.
Chad McKnight scored inside with just under 15 minutes remaining in the half to give the Eagles their first lead at 9-8. Four more MSU points made it 13-8.
After Southeast pulled to within 13-10, the Eagles scored seven straight points, a 3-pointer by Marks opening up a 20-10 advantage at the 10-minute mark.
From then on, it was basically a matter of what the final score was going to be. The Eagles went up 34-15 and again by 19 at 41-22 before Winans' 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer made it 41-25.
Any momentum the Indians might have gathered from Winans' shot to end the opening period quickly dissolved in the second half when MSU scored the first eight points to go ahead 49-25.
The Eagles never wer threatened the rest of the way. They led by as many as 27 points and coasted to victory, although the Indians did cut the deficit to 14 in the final 30 seconds.
"We were basically never in the game after the first few minutes," Garner said. "But our guys did keep playing hard even when we were out of it."
A bright spot for the Indians was the play of sophomore center Adam Crader, who came off the bench to score a career-high seven points and blocked two shots.
Southeast hosts Tennessee-Martin on Thursday.
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