RICHMOND, Ky. – Senior Mike DiNunno led four Colonels in double figures with 21 points as the Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball team picked up its 20th win of the season by defeating Tennessee Tech University, 80-69, on Thursday at McBrayer Arena.
Eastern Kentucky (20-6, 9-3 OVC) has its first 20-win season since 2009-10 and the eighth 20-win campaign in program history. Jeff Neubauer is the first coach in program history to lead the Colonels to three 20-win seasons.
Tennessee Tech (9-15, 3-9 OVC) led by three at halftime and expanded its lead to five, 48-43, on a Dennis Ogbe dunk at the 14:27 mark of the second half. However, EKU responded with a 14-2 run – capped by an unlikely three-pointer from the top of the key by sophomore big man Eric Stutz – to take a 57-50 advantage with 9:30 to play in the game. The Colonels never trailed again, slowly pulling away.
DiNunno poured in 12 of his 21 points in the second half, connecting on three key three-pointers down the stretch to help seal the win. Juniors Glenn Cosey and Tarius Johnson contributed 17 and 13 points, respectively, while Stutz scored 14 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
EKU committed only six turnovers in the win – its second lowest number of giveaways this season – and the Colonels converted 14 TTU turnovers into 22 points.
Ogbe and Jud Dillard paced the Golden Eagles with 17 points apiece, while Jeremiah Samarrippas went for 15 and seven assists in the loss.
EKU found success from behind the three-point arc early, as DiNunno, Cosey and sophomore Corey Walden all connected on treys before the first media timeout to give the Colonels a quick 11-2 advantage.
Eastern, however, went scoreless for more than four minutes out of the initial media timeout, allowing the Golden Eagles back into the game. TTU then went on a 12-4 run over the final four minutes of the first half, using a three-pointer by Ammanuel Diressa to take its first lead of the game, 33-30, heading into the locker room at halftime.
Eastern shot 57 percent (16-of-28) from the field in the second half and 49 percent for the game. TTU hit 45 percent of its shots.
The Colonels will play at home again on Saturday when Jacksonville State visits McBrayer Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Senior Day activities will be held before the game.
The Colonels entered the game averaging 5.8 fewer turnovers than their opponents, best in the OVC and fourth in the nation. EKU finished with eight fewer turnovers than Tennessee Tech.
Eastern Kentucky is now 7-0 this season when scoring 80 or more points and 33-5 under Jeff Neubauer when scoring 80-plus.
EKU has already clinched a winning season, the fourth under head coach Jeff Neubauer. Out of 18 head coaches in program history, Neubauer is one of only five with four or more winning seasons.
EKU now leads the all-time series 69-56. The Colonels are 41-22 against Tennessee Tech in Richmond.