Men's Basketball

EKU pounces early, fends off rally for 84-73 win over North Carolina A&T

RICHMOND — Jeff Neubauer doesn't often talk to his team about previous teams.

That's in the past.

The Eastern Kentucky coach made an exception Wednesday night, though, after his Colonels knocked off North Carolina A&T 84-73.

"The way we guarded to start the game tonight is how we started games last year," Neubauer explained. "We just pounced on people, played with great energy, didn't allow them to make passes, got steals and created transition opportunities.

"So this is what we want. This is who we should be. This is who we've been in the past. And, hopefully, we can take this into the new year."

The Colonels tied a school record with their 21st straight home-floor victory over a non-conference opponent.

Marcus Lewis scored a career-high 20 points and Glenn Cosey added 19, each player handing out five assists.

Bruce Beckford and Lamont Middleton, the only starters back from A&T's NCAA Tournament team of last season, each had 21 points and six rebounds. Richaud Pack, a transfer from Florida International, totaled 18 points and seven boards.

EKU (8-4), playing its first home game since Nov. 22, bolted to a 23-4 lead.

"We totally ran them out of their offense," Neubauer said. "Didn't allow them to make any passes, and that's what we're supposed to do."

Up 44-26 at halftime, the Colonels were shooting 63 percent (17 of 27) from the field and had outscored the Aggies 24-5 in points off turnovers.

Five of EKU's 17 first-half field goals made were dunks, including three by Lewis.

A&T (3-8), though, dominated the rebounds (36-18) and made a game of it in the second half.

"We got a big lead, we didn't get comfortable," Cosey said. "They just came back. They turned the pressure up a little bit."

A year ago, A&T rallied from a double-digit halftime deficit to beat Eastern 78-67.

This time, the Aggies pulled to within eight, 74-66, with 3:33 left.

"To be honest, I was a little bit (nervous), but then we were in this position last year so we're kind of used to it now," Cosey said. "And we've got seniors, so everybody stepped up."

The margin was still eight, 80-72, until Lewis knocked down a three-pointer with 1:11 left. He hesitated before firing, not immediately grasping that the shot clock was about to expire.

"I was just trying to reset the offense because we were a little out of control there, but we didn't have time," Lewis said. "So I tried to throw up a good shot and it went in."

The Colonels finished with 10 fewer turnovers than A&M and outscored the Aggies 39-9 from three-point range.

So how did things almost slip away in the second half?

"This is how college basketball is these days. It's just so easy to get fouled that it's going to be hard to just run someone out of the gym," Neubauer said. "Obviously Cy (Alexander, A&M's coach) does a great job with his team. He kept them in, he made some adjustments, he started a different lineup in the second half. Also, offensively they tried to post the ball a lot more in the second half. That was effective ... and they got to the free-throw line."


Eastern Kentucky at IPFW

When: Dec. 29, 2 p.m.