By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Colonels capped off a very successful 24-10 season last month by winning their sixth Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship and making their eighth appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
They had an exciting run through the OVC Tournament with wins over Southeast Missouri, 70-66; Murray State, 84-76 and 79-73 over Belmont in the championship game to earn the league’s automatic bid to the Big Dance and a date with Big 12 powerhouse and No. 2 seed Kansas in St. Louis.
Their gutsy performance against Kansas in the second round of the tournament showed a national-television audience what Colonels’ fans had seen all year long — a team with no quit in it.
EKU led the Jayhawks by nine points in the first half and were ahead of the No. 2 seed for 21:28 — more than half the game.
The Colonels took the Jayhawks’ best shots and each time responded with a punch of their own. EKU had a lead with 8:55 remaining in the game and were only down five points with less than three minutes remaining.
The Colonels’ play against Kansas earned them some respect from the Jayhawks and their coaches.
“We obviously feel fortunate because I thought Eastern Kentucky was well prepared. They played great. They played loose and certainly gave us everything we wanted,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after the contest. “It was a hard-fought game and one in which we had to work our tail off for 40-minutes to come out with a win.”
The team’s poise and professional approach each step of the way during the postseason run left the large contingent of EKU fans that made the trips to Nashville and St. Louis, and those who watched on TV, very proud.
The 2013-2014 edition of the Colonels made their mark on the Eastern Kentucky University basketball record books that will be tough for upcoming teams to top.
Following are some statistics and accomplishments from the season.
n 24 wins, the second-most in program history. The school record of 25 wins was set last season
n Picked up EKU’s ninth 20-win season in program history
n Finished the season ranked 19th in the CollegInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25
n Ranked 97th in the final NCAA RPI rankings. EKU had the second-highest RPI in the OVC behind Belmont
n Back-to-back national postseason tournament appearances for the first time in program history. The Colonels played in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in 2013 and the NCAA Tournament in 2014
n Best four-year win total in program history. The Colonels win over Belmont in the OVC Tournament was its 80th victory over the last four seasons, breaking the previous best of 79 games from 1944-48
n The Colonels win over Chattanooga on Feb. 4 set a new school record of 22 consecutive home non-conference wins. The previous record of 21 straight was set from 1977-78 to 1980-81
n Ranked No. 2 in the nation in turnover margin on the season at +6.3. Louisville led the nation with a +6.7 turnover margin
n Ranked 6th in the country in steals with 299 — 8.8 per game
n Ranked 5th in the nation in three-point field goals per game — 9.3, and were ranked sixth with 315 three-pointers on they year
Several Colonels picked up individual honors for their play this season as well.
n Marcus Lewis won the Denny’s Slam Dunk Championship at the 2014 Final Four
n Corey Walden was OVC Tournament MVP and the 2014 OVC Defensive Player of the Year
n Glenn Cosey was chosen as a Lou Henson All-American and Corey Walden was picked as a Lefty Driesell Defensive All-American
n Cosey’s 35-foot buzzer-beating shot against SEMO on Feb. 1 earned the No. 1 spot on the ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 Plays
n Cosey broke the EKU record and tied the OVC mark with 10 three-pointers in a game at Eastern Illinois on Jan. 2