MOREHEAD, Ky.—Morehead State men's basketball has been chosen as Ohio Valley Conference preseason co-champions and Eagle junior Kenneth Faried has been selected as the OVC Preseason Player of the Year. MSU senior Maze Stallworth joined Faried as a preseason All-OVC selection.
It marks the first time since the 1983-84 season that MSU has been picked to finish first. Selected by head men’s basketball coaches and sports information directors, Morehead State and Murray State each received 10 first-place votes. Morehead State finished last season 12-6 in league play (fourth place) and won the OVC Tournament Championship. Murray State was tied for second overall last season with a 13-5 record and lost in the OVC Tournament semifinals.
“We are honored to be picked to finish first alongside Murray State, but it also means we won’t sneak up on anyone this year," MSU coach Donnie Tyndall said. "The reality is that regardless of where we are picked, we have to work hard and win basketball games to make these predictions come true."
Tyndall led the Eagles into the NCAA Tournament a season ago by capturing the OVC Tournament Championship by beating perennial power Austin Peay 67-65 in a thrilling, double-overtime game in Nashville. MSU advanced and picked up a victory in the Opening Round, the league’s first win in the NCAA Tournament in 20 years (1989). After topping Alabama State 58-43, the Eagles stayed in Dayton and face No. 1 overall seed Louisville in the next round.
"I think we have an excellent team and I want to congratulate Kenneth Faried and Maze Stallworth on earning preseason honors. Like all of the other deserving young men on the preseason team, they have worked hard in the offseason and will be a core part of our team this season," Tyndall said.
The Eagles lost just one key contributor from last year’s team (leading scorer Leon Buchanan) but do return a host of talented players including Faried and Stallworth. Faried notched the second-most double-doubles in the country last season (25) while finishing third nationally in rebounding (13.0/game). He was named OVC Tournament MVP after several big plays down the stretch of the title game, including a key alley-oop dunk and a big blocked shot. Stallworth appeared in 33 of MSU’s 36 games, starting 29 times and scoring a season-high 26 points and pulled down eight rebounds versus Drake. He topped the 20-point mark in six other games, including twice against Austin Peay. He scored 14 points on 4-of-8 three point shooting in the NCAA first round match up with Louisville.
MSU opens the preseason with an exhibition game against Cedarville Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. at Johnson arena. The Eagles open the regular season Nov. 13 at Kentucky at 6 p.m.