Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Eastern Kentucky Rolls in @EKUHoops Classic

The Eastern Kentucky Colonels rolled through the @EKUHoops Classic over the weekend.

The Colonels (4-1) earned wins over Ball State, South Carolina State and Longwood during the three-day event.

Day 1

Eastern Kentucky 89 Ball State 81

Veterans Jonathan Hood, Ja'Mill Powell and Jaylen Babb-Harrison combined for 48 points off the bench to help propel the Eastern Kentucky University men's basketball team to a come-from-behind 89-81 win over Ball State on Friday night in the @EKUHoops Classic at McBrayer Arena.

EKU's bench outscored Ball State's bench, 53-21, on the night.

After the Colonels fell behind 13-0 in the opening minutes, head coach Dan McHale checked in five new players, and those five reserves turned the tide of the game.

Hood was the star of the show. His three-pointer finally got EKU on the board and sparked an 11-0 run to pull the Colonels back into the game. The senior from Durham, North Carolina finished with a career-high 21 points. His previous career high was eight points. He connected on 5-of-7 three-pointers and 7-of-9 shots overall.

Junior JaVontae Hawkins was the only starter to reach double figures for the Colonels, scoring 20 points to go along with four rebounds, two steals and an assist.

Complete Recap

South Carolina State 83 Longwood 77

Gabe McCray scored 23 points to lead the Bulldogs past the Lancers. Ed Stephens added 12 points and Greg Mortimer chipped in 10.

Lotanna Nwogbo led Longwood with 27 points and 15 rebounds.

Day 2

Eastern Kentucky 92 South Carolina State 82

The Eastern Kentucky University men's basketball team rallied behind a hot-shooting night from freshman Nick Mayo to beat South Carolina State, 92-82, in the @EKUHoops Classic on Saturday afternoon in McBrayer Arena.

Less than 24 hours after being held scoreless by Ball State, Mayo went 9-of-11 from the field to finish with a career-high 20 points. He also pulled down five rebounds. Junior JaVontae Hawkins was right behind him with 19 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Senior Jarelle Reischel accounted for 18 points and seven rebounds.

The Colonels (3-1) wasted little time, opening the game on an 18-5 run that was capped by a K.J. Bluford three-pointer with 13:57 on the clock. The Bulldogs regrouped, though, and eventually tied the game at 24-24 when Ed Stephens knocked down a three-pointer at the 8:27 mark.

Complete Recap 

Ball State 78 Longwood 67

The Cardinals pulled away in the second half to earn their first win of the weekend.

Ryan Weber led the way for Ball State with 17 points and 6 rebounds. Franko House added 14 points and 6 boards.

Kanayo Obi-Rapu scored 21 points to lead Longwood. Khris Lane finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds.

Day 3

Eastern Kentucky 110 Longwood 97

Senior Jarelle Reischel and sophomore Paul Jackson both recorded double-doubles as the Eastern Kentucky University men's basketball team picked up its third win in as many days with an impressive 110-97 victory over Longwood on Sunday, the final day of the 2015 @EKUHoops Classic at McBrayer Arena.

Reischel finished with a career-high 37 points and 13 rebounds for his second double-double of the year. His 37 points were the most by a Colonel since Shawn Fields scored 36 in a game at Morehead State on February 15, 2003.

Jackson, meanwhile, logged his first career double-double with 14 points and 13 assists.

Reischel and Jackson's double-doubles marked the first time Colonel teammates posted double-doubles in the same game since Michael Haney and Mike Scott against Savannah State on December 20, 2003.

Junior JaVontae Hawkins added 26 points, five assists and two blocks for the Colonels.

Complete Recap

Ball State 72 South Carolina State 60

Bo Calhoun had 16 points and a career-high 13 rebounds to lead Ball State over South Carolina State in the final game of the weekend. Franko House scored 18 points.

Ty Soloman, Eric Eaves and Gabe McCray each scored 11 to pace South Carolina State.

Final Standings

Eastern Kentucky 3-0
Ball State 2-0
South Carolina State 1-2
Longwood 0-3

Notes and Thoughts:

- EKU is probably a little better than I thought. They have some work to do defensively but once they put it all together they are going to be a tough out in the Ohio Valley Conference.

- The Colonels are as athletic as any EKU team I can remember.

- I'll post more on him later, but Longwood has a big man named Lotanna Nwogbo who is going to be an absolute force in the Big South Conference. He is a beast in the paint.

- EKU vs. Longwood featured a battle of former Kentucky players. Adam Williams, who played at UK before transferring to Marshall, is an assistant at Longwood. Former UK and Villanova big man Michael Bradley is an assistant at EKU.

- I personally love events like the @EKUHoops Classic. It's a great opportunity to check out some quality mid-major basketball. If you ever have the opportunity, attend one of these events and enjoy some good basketball.

- I am impressed by the upgrades to EKU's arena. The new video board is outstanding (check out my Snapchat picture). I like the new court look and the other various upgrades.

- It was great to see my man Tee Commodore Sunday. He is now working at EKU as Video Coordinator/Director of Player Personnel.

- Special shout out the EKU pep band. They do a great job with music and entertainment during games. No basketball atmosphere is complete without a good pep band.

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