OVC MEN: Knapper helps Colonels top High Point

Brandon Knapper missed most of the first month of his first season at Eastern Kentucky University with an injury.

The junior guard is quickly making up for lost time, though.

Knapper scored 21 points and added three assists as the Colonels (7-2) wrapped up their non-conference schedule with a 86-67 win Tuesday over over High Point (2-5) at McBrayer Arena.

Wendell Green Jr., had 13 points and eight steals, while Michael Moreno finished with 12 points.

"I really just wanted to get in a groove," Knapper said. "It just feels good to be back out there playing with the guys."

Knapper transferred from West Virginia and was granted immediate eligibility. He missed the first seven games of the season after having his knee scoped.

He made his EKU debut last week and tied his career-high with 25 points in a win over Campbellsville University-Harrodsburg.

"He is wired to score," EKU coach A.W. Hamilton said of Knapper. "He has always been a big-time scorer. He has always been a big-time shot-maker. He is just now getting back. He is going to have a huge year for us. I'm excited for him."

Knapper played for Hamilton at Hargrave Military Academy.

His former, and now current, coach was a big reason the guard decided to come to EKU.

"He knows my game," Knapper said. "Even coming off this injury, he knows I can still play my game. I'm blessed to have that."

Knapper helped the Colonels jump on top early against High Point.

The junior guard had a basket and a three-pointer as EKU went up 12-0 less than three minutes into the game. The Panthers turned the ball over on three of their first four possessions, while the Colonels hit their first five field goal attempts.

"The energy we started the game with was electric," Hamilton said. "We had 45 deflections in the first half."

The Colonels battled foul trouble in the opening half. Moreno, Curt Lewis and Russhard Cruickshank each picked up two quick fouls.

EKU still never surrendered the lead and went into halftime with a 46-30 lead.

Knapper had 14 points at halftime.

The Colonels pushed ahead by 23 points before High Point battled back. The Panthers pulled to within 10 (63-53) on a three-pointer by Denny Slay II with 11:20 left.

EKU put together a quick 10-0 run that featured two free throws by Knapper, a three-pointer from JacQuess Hobbs in addition to a tip-in and three from Moreno.

"When they went on that run, Michael Moreno stepped up for us," Hamilton said. "He was tremendous."

High Point never got within 15 points again.

Tre King had nine points despite battling foul trouble. Lewis and Hobbs each had seven points. Devontae Blanton added six points, all of which came in the first half.

Cooper Robb had five points, eight steals and six rebounds.

Peyton Broughton and Tariq Balogun each had three points.

Slay had 12 points for High Point. Eric Coleman Jr., had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

EKU shot 43.5 percent from the field and was 10-of-31 three-point range (3-of-12 by Knapper). The Colonels also hit 24-of-33 free throws.

High Point shot 45 percent from the field, hit 8-of-23 three-pointers, but had 23 turnovers, which led to 25 EKU points.

The Colonels won six of their seven games this season against teams outside the Ohio Valley Conference, with the only loss coming to No. 22 Xavier in overtime.

That mark matches the program's best winning percentage vs. non-league opponents since the 1948-49 season.

"It's a great feeling and I am really proud of this group," Hamilton said.

EKU is set to return to action Dec. 30 at home against OVC rival Eastern Illinois.

EKU honors Tubby Smith

Prior to the game, the EKU athletics department honored High Point coach Tubby Smith with a special gift.

Hamilton and Matt Roan, director of athletics, presented the former University of Kentucky coach with a maroon sports coat in a pre-game ceremony.

"We didn't do it because he coached at Kentucky," Hamilton said. "We did it because of the type of person he is and how he has run his programs over the years. He has been a really good friend of mine and a mentor."

Smith won the 1998 NCAA National Championship, the same year that Hamilton won a state title as a player at Scott County High School.

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