Men's Basketball

Morehead wins play-in game

DAYTON, Ohio — Was Yogi Berra in Dayton Arena Tuesday night? It was deja vu all over again.

Yogi must have been around because 25 years after the Morehead State Eagles (20-15) won in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, they did it again, this time by defeating Alabama State 58-43.

Just like a quarter century ago, the Eagles will oppose Louisville in their next game at 7:10 p.m. Friday.

That time, Louisville, a No. 5 seed, won 72-59. This time, the Cardinals are No. 1 in the land as well as top seed in the Big Dance. Louisville also holds a 79-41 November victory over Morehead.

Forget that for now.

Before a record crowd of 11,346 in this annual play-in game, the Eagles ruled the boards 50-27, held Alabama State to 31 percent shooting and overcame an uncharacteristic 21 turnovers in a somewhat historic game.

Morehead's victory was the first for the Ohio Valley Conference since former league member Middle Tennessee defeated Florida State two decades ago. Murray State, a year earlier, was the last current member to win a game.

Tuesday night's game matched two quick teams, and the result was a combined 34 turnovers, 33 percent shooting from the field and no particular player standing out offensively.

But Morehead's Kenneth Faried was the giant on the Dayton Arena floor even though he wasn't the tallest player in the game.

Faried, at 6-foot-8, had 21 rebounds. His 18 defensive boards equaled Alabama State's total for the game.

Faried's counterpart, 7-1 senior Chief Kickingstallionsims, had no points and two rebounds in 14 minutes, four in the second half.

"We had guys making plays," winning coach Donnie Tyndall said. "We did a great job rebounding the ball. That (23-rebound margin) is unheard of. That's a tribute to our kids' toughness.

"Our plan was to keep them out of rhythm, play some man, press a little bit, play some zone and keep them out of rhythm."

Hornets Coach Lewis Jackson said, "We did not shoot the ball well (31 percent). We found ourselves struggling to get shots and get into a rhythm. They rebounded the ball well."

Faried said, "I love the atmosphere. I feed off it. That's what makes me the player I am."

Morehead, a 20-game winner for the third time in school history, withstood Alabama State's best shot to start the second half.

Morehead led 29-18 at the half and extended that to 31-18 on two free throws in the first half-minute, but the Hornets scored the next five points.

Alabama State (22-10) could have gotten closer, but it missed its next five shots before the first TV timeout.

The Hornets missed twice more, and the Eagles finally got their first field goal almost five minutes into the half when Leon Buchanan nailed a three-pointer for a 36-23 lead.

As the second half turned into a fouling contest, Morehead maintained its lead.

Alabama State became the aggressor on offense, taking seven more shots than Morehead in the first 12 minutes.

Morehead was victimized by 13 turnovers, 21 for the game. The Eagles had 13 turnovers in three OVC Tournament games.

The Hornets, meanwhile, worked their deficit to single digits.

The Eagles fired up the record crowd coming out of a timeout at 4:39. Demonte Harper got behind the defense, snagged a three-quarter length pass and dunked. That put Morehead on top 47-36 with its first field goal in more than two minutes.

The Eagles got two more field goals, but they made seven of their last nine free throws to put away the game.

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