MOREHEAD, Ky. -- The Morehead State men’s basketball team used a 41-6 scoring advantage off the bench en route to a 71-63 victory over Missouri Valley Conference foe Indiana State on Saturday afternoon at Johnson Arena.
The Eagles improve to 5-5 on the season, while the Sycamores slip to 4-3 on the year. Morehead State also pushes its all-time series advantage to 4-2 with its fourth straight win over Indiana State.
“Today's effort was closer to what we're trying to do here," Head Coach Sean Woods said. “I thought our guys responded well to line-up changes we made. It’s going to take a total team effort, whether you are starting or not.”
Senior Milton Chavis and sophomore Angelo Warner led the Eagles with 15 points apiece on a combined 8-of-14 from the floor. Warner's season high came on 5-of-6 from the free-throw line, while Chavis' total came in 21 minutes off the bench.
Morehead State jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the first seven minutes and never trailed in the game. MSU built its largest advantage at 45-29 with 15:24 to play in the second half.
Indiana State rallied by doubling up the hosts, 28-14, over an 11-minute span to trim its deficit to two with 2:55 remaining, but MSU iced the game by knocking down nine of its last 14 free throws.
Freshman Khristian Smith led the Sycamores with 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 8-of-11 from the free-throw line, while junior Manny Arop added 19 points with a trio of three-pointers.
The Eagles shot 49 percent (22-of-45) from the floor and hit 9-of-17 from three-point range, while holding ISU to 37 percent (17-of-46) overall and just 23 percent from the three-point line.
“You’ve got to make shots to have a chance,” Woods said. “That’s really all we’ve been doing lately. Getting up a ton of shots, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do. I'm glad our extra time in the gym paid off today.”
Morehead State forced 17 turnovers, which led to 19 points. The Eagles held ISU without a field goal for the final 7:04 of the opening half and first 5:56 of the second period. MSU also owned a 32-29 advantage on the glass.
“I was pretty pleased with the overall effort today,” Woods said. "If you want to play for me, you have to play defense. I also want guys on the floor who are willing to rebound and have the ability to be smart on the offensive end."
MSU senior Devon Atkinson dished out a team-best four assists, while Warner also handed out three helpers.
Morehead State is idle for 10 days now due to semester exams. The Eagles return to action on Dec. 19 at South Dakota at 8 p.m. ET. Follow in-game coverage via links on MSUEagles.com.
“First and foremost, I expect our guys to study hard this week and do the best they can on final exams," Woods added. "From a basketball standpoint, we will also be spending a lot of time in the gym. We need to continue to get better as a team. We grinded out a win today, but there are still lots of areas we can improve in.”