By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
After a very successful regular season, in which they finished with the second-best record in the OVC and a second-place finish in the OVC East Division, the Colonels (23-8, 12-4 OVC) have their eyes on winning the OVC Tournament title and a coveted automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Colonels, who entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, received a bye into the quarterfinals and will take on No. 6 seed Southeast Missouri State at 9 p.m. today in Nashville Municipal Auditorium.
The game can be heard on WCYO 100.7 FM and EKUSports.com and can be seen on OVCDigitalNetwork.com.
EKU has not won a postseason game since winning the 2007 OVC Tournament in Nashville.
The Redhawks advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament with a 78-68 win over No. 7-seed Eastern Illinois Wednesday in Nashville.
The Colonels defeated SEMO 81-72 in the only meeting between the two teams this season — Feb. 2 in Cape Girardeau. Mo.
In that game, EKU overcame a slow start in which it allowed the Redhawks to shoot 60 percent from the field in the first half and dominate the backboards.
The Colonels defense stiffened in the second half, holding the Redhawks to 36 percent shooting and they outrebounded SEMO by five rebounds.
Eric Stutz had a big game, recording his first career double-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and he also had seven blocked shots.
Glenn Cosey added 21 points for the Colonels, which included four three-pointers and Tarius Johnson finished with 14 points and Marcus Lewis had 10 points. Lewis had a highlight-reel alley-oop dunk in the game that made it to No. 3 on the ESPN top plays of the night.
Southeast Missouri won five of its final seven regular-season games and enters the tournament 16-15 on the season. The Redhawks finished 8-8 in conference play. The SEMO offense has put up 82, 84, 96 and 108 points in four of its past five regular-season games. SEMO broke the OVC record with 20 three-pointers in scoring 108 points at Austin Peay.
Tyler Stone leads the Redhawks in scoring (15.3 ppg) and is second in rebounding (7.8 rpg). Nino Johnson is third in scoring (11 ppg) and is second in the OVC in rebounding (9.1 rpg), while Corey Wilford, a 6-foot-2 senior guard, is averaging 14.8 points a game.
The Colonels enter the tournament off an 85-81 overtime loss Saturday at Tennessee State, but EKU won seven of its final nine games of the season.
The winner of today’s game will face No. 2 seed Murray State in the semifinals on at 9 p.m. Friday. The championship game will be Saturday at 7 p.m. and will air on ESPN2.
The Colonels have won five OVC Tournament titles — 1950, 1955, 1979, 2005, 2007 — and have finished runner-up seven times — 1951, 1953, 1954, 1965, 1987, 1990, 1992.