Slow start for EKU basketball in the OVC

Head coach A.W. Hamilton motivates his players to take care of the ball in a timeout during the NKU game on Dec. 8 in McBrayer Arena. (Zachery Combest/Progress) 

The Eastern Kentucky University basketball team finished 2018 and the non-conference schedule on a high note with four wins at home and seven overall, but Ohio Valley Conference action hasn’t been in the Colonels’ favor.  

Before EKU started OVC play, the Colonels had a record of 7-6 with three close wins over High Point on Dec. 1, University of South Carolina Upstate on Dec. 5 and Northern Kentucky University on Dec. 8. Senior Nick Mayo had the game winning shots in both the High Point and NKU games. 

The senior was also honored for becoming EKU’s all-time leading scorer in school history. Mayo was recognized on Dec. 29 before a game against Brescia University. EKU then went on to make more history by scoring the most points in a game in school history, defeating the Bearcats 145-72. 

After the game, head coach A.W. Hamilton called Mayo a “once-in-a-lifetime player.”

“There is never going to be another Nick Mayo. Anytime we can celebrate him we need to do it… I’m happy for Nick and his family was here and I’m proud to be his coach,” Hamilton said. 

The Colonels had a rough start to 2019 and the start of OVC play. Conference action started on Jan. 3, as the Colonels traveled to Austin Peay. EKU fell to the Governors 93-75. EKU’s next OVC game was against in-state rival Murray State. The Colonels lost a close battle in Murray by a final of 97-85. Mayo scored 36 points against the Racers. 

The Colonels continued their road trip as they traveled to Tennessee State. Mayo had a chance to win the game in the final seconds, but the Colonels fell 82-81. EKU’s next game was against Belmont, a team that is very familiar with the OVC and NCAA tournament. Eastern dropped a high-scoring affair 109-93. Mayo finished the game with 26 points and five rebounds.

EKU men’s basketball currently has a 7-10 record. The Colonels’ last win was in December 2018 against Brescia. Hamilton said his goal for the team is to reach the OVC tournament in Evansville, Indiana in March and make a run for the conference championship. 

If Eastern wins the OVC title, it will be its first since 2014. 

Turnovers have hurt the Colonels all season, especially in conference play. EKU has turned the all over 68 times in conference play, four more than their OVC opponents have totaled over four games. Overall this season, EKU has turned the ball over 257 times.   

Hamilton has also looked for other players to contribute to the scoring efforts. Freshman Jomaru Brown joined the starting lineup before OVC play. Brown scored 17 points against Belmont and had a team-high 24 points against Tennessee State. Brown started the season coming off the bench for the Colonels, and even with limited time he was able to make an impact on the stat sheet. Brown’s season high is 26 points against Austin Peay in the first OVC game.   

Eastern has four straight home conference games to round out the month. Fans will have the chance to see the Colonels back at home as they face off against the University of Tennessee at Martin on Thursday. Tipoff in McBrayer Arena is set for 7:30 p.m. 

Sports Editor

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