By Bob Flynn
Register Staff Report
The Colonels are off to their best start in 66 years after blowing out Delaware State 84-51 (3-5) Wednesday for their sixth win in a row to start the season.
Led by the hot shooting of junior guard Glen Cosey, who scored 11 of his team’s first 13 points, the Colonels used a 13-2 run to help build a 43-23 lead at the half.
The EKU defense, which had been stellar in the first half, turned up the heat even more in the second half, forcing the Hornets into numerous turnovers that turned into easy baskets. The defense fueled an 18-0 run that extended the lead to 35 at 74-39.
“I thought our team was really, really energized defensively. This is the second game in a row that we really played hard defensively and I love the way our guys have competed,” EKU coach Jeff Neubauer said. “They’ve been up in the passing lanes making it hard to complete passes. But more importantly they’ve guarded the ball really well. Our one-on-one defense had been outstanding.”
The Colonels scored 36 points off Hornet turnovers, something the team has consistently done all season.
“The reason we are 6-0 is the fact that our defense has turned over other teams. It’s created turnovers on dribblers. We’ve gotten five-second calls ... we’ve got to continue that way and create those easy opportunities,” Neubauer said.
As well as the EKU defense played, the offense might have been more impressive.
The Colonels put on a passing clinic in the second half.
During its 18-0 run, they had assists on five straight baskets by four different players, including Eric Stutz who threaded the needle with a pass down the lane to a cutting Mike DiNunno for a lay-up.
The next trip up the floor, the Colonels stole the ball and Cosey gave it up to DiNunno who, instead of taking the easy layup, flipped it over his head to a trailing Stutz for a dunk.
“Toward the end of the game you’ve got to let the big guy eat. He’s run rim-to-rim all game and you’ve got to keep him motivated,” DiNunno said smiling.
The play exemplified the unselfish way the team has played all year. On the night, the Colonels had 26 assists on 34 baskets, which brought a smile to Neubauer’s face.
“Twenty-six assists on 34 made baskets. That is as good as you are going to have in the country,” Neubauer said. “Our guys are playing really unselfishly. We are passing up good shots to get great shots and when that happens it results in a really good night.”
Cosey had a game-high 21 points, 19 in the first half, five assists and four steals. DiNunno finished with 11 points, six assists and a steal and Stutz had 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Marcus Lewis had a big game off the bench, scoring a season-high 15 points, several while hauling down six rebounds and dishing out three assists and getting two steals.
Neubauer said it was good to see Lewis doing in games some of the things he had been doing in practice.
“We as a coaching staff have seen this from Marcus. Meaning he has had some really good practices. We also had a closed-door scrimmage where he exploded like this,” Neubauer said. “We’re working on consistency. He’s got great athleticism and he’s going to help our team. I’m really proud to see him playing well.”
The Colonels shot 53 percent from the filed and 42 percent from three-point range. Delaware shot 43.5 percent from the field, but only 21 percent from behind the three-point line.
With its 6-0 start, EKU is the only unbeaten team in the OVC and one of only seven unbeaten mid-major teams in the country.
The Colonels play their final game of a seven-game homestand Saturday when they take on Western Carolina at 7:30 p.m.