JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – Eastern Kentucky University’s men’s basketball team held Jacksonville State University to scoring droughts of 5:02 and 4:32, 31 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent shooting from three-point range in a 73-62 road win on Saturday.
Corey Walden scored a career-high 28 for the Colonels (15-4, 5-1 OVC). The newcomer’s previous best was 23 points as a freshman at Stetson. He made 8-of-11 attempts from the field and 10-of-10 from the free throw line. The Daytona Beach native also had four assists, three rebounds and two steals. Senior Mike DiNunno tied his season-best, which was set on Thursday at Belmont, with 24 points.
Eastern used a 20-5 run in the first half to take control of the game. During the run, Jacksonville State (12-7, 4-4 OVC) went scoreless for 5:02 and 4:32. EKU broke a 12-12 tie by scoring 10 unanswered. A lay-up by Marcus Lewis put the visitors in front 22-12. After the Gamecocks scored five straight, the Colonels rolled off 10 more. A jumper by Timmy Knipp capped the run and put his team ahead by 15, 32-17, with 2:27 remaining in the first half.
EKU maintained a double-digit lead for much of the rest of the game. Walden scored six straight for the Colonels in the second half to stretch the margin to 17 for the second time. His lay-up made it 46-29 with 13:35 left to play.
Jacksonville State made a late run. After DiNunno’s lay-up had the Colonels on top by 16, 56-40, with 6:15 showing on the clock, the Gamecocks went on a 17-7 run to draw within six. Brian Williams hit three 3-pointers and two free throws to account for 11 points during the spurt. His triple with 2:51 to go made it 63-57.
Eastern Kentucky hit 8-of-10 from the free throw line down the stretch to secure the victory.
Tarvin Gaines led the Gamecocks with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Williams finished with 14, but was 4-for-17 from the field and 4-for-12 from behind the arc.
Eastern shot 51 percent from the field and 84 percent (21-of-25) at the free throw line. JSU missed eight at the charity stripe.
The Colonels will return home to host Tennessee State on Thursday at 7 p.m. EKU is 10-0 this season at McBrayer Arena.
Eastern Kentucky is ranked 17th in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25.
The Colonels improved to 7-0 this season when shooting 50 percent or better.
Corey Walden’s previous career-high of 23 points came on Jan. 3, 2011 against Lipscomb. Walden played his freshman season at Stetson before transferring first to Brevard Community College and then to Eastern Kentucky.
Saturday’s game marked the first time this season EKU won when committing more turnovers than its opponent. Eastern had been 0-2 when the opponent commits the same number or fewer turnovers.
JSU entered the game leading the OVC in scoring defense at 60.7 points per game, but allowed 73 points to the Colonels.
Jacksonville State entered the game first in the OVC and third in the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense. JSU had limited its opponents to 27.8 percent shooting from deep entering the game, but allowed EKU to shoot 33.3 percent from deep.
Jacksonville State had not allowed an opposing player to score more than 22 points this season. Eastern’s Corey Walden finished with 28 and Mike DiNunno scored 24.
The Colonels now lead the all-time series 12-7 and are 4-7 in Jacksonville.