RICHMOND, Ky. Eastern Kentucky University’s men’s basketball team got off to a slow start, falling behind by 14 in the first half, but found its stroke and rolled to a 97-66 victory over visiting Kentucky State University on Thursday in the Colonels’ home opener at McBrayer Arena.
The Thorobreds (0-3) raced out to the early lead as EKU hit just 6-of-24 (25 percent) from the field to start the game. A jumper by Reggie Breeden with 6:32 left in the opening half gave Kentucky State its largest lead at 14, 27-13.
After starting cold, the Colonels (2-1) heated up behind the play of freshman guard Dedric Boyd. Eastern ended the half by making 9-of-13 from the field (69 percent). Boyd fueled a 23-7 run that turned that 14-point deficit into a one-point lead. He got the rally started with a three-pointer and a dunk, and scored 10 of the 23 points during the run.
Freshman A.J. Youngman’s three-pointer from the right wing with 14 seconds to go in the first half capped the turnaround and put Eastern in front 35-34. KSU scored the final basket of the half to take a one-point lead into the locker room at the break.
EKU scored 17 of the first 20 points to start the second half and never looked back. Sophomore DeAndre Dishman scored six of the 17 on his way to a career-best 18 points.
Nick Mayo’s two free throws with 14:14 left in the game pushed the Colonel lead to double figures for the first time, 50-39. The Thorobreds went 5:34 without scoring.
Eastern went in front by 20-plus when Jackson Davis knocked down two a pair of free throws with 9:14 showing on the clock. Youngman’s 3-pointer with 3:03 to go made it a 30-point game, 88-58.
After starting the game 6-for-24, the Colonels went 27-for-43 (63 percent) the rest of the game. EKU out-rebounded Kentucky State 45-38 and out-scored the visitors 22-5 off turnovers.
In addition to Dishman, Boyd finished with 18 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists. Mayo contributed 14 points, eight rebounds, five assists, four blocks and one steal. Youngman went 4-for-6 from behind the arc and finished with 14 points, a career-high for the freshman. Fellow freshman Peyton Broughton finished with a career-best 13 points.
Ray Croon led all players with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting for Kentucky State.
The Colonels will play Prairie View A&M on Monday in Las Vegas as part of the MGM Grand Main Event.