LEXINGTON, Ky. – Eastern Kentucky University’s men’s basketball team will face No. 1 ranked University of Kentucky on Sunday night at Rupp Arena. The 6 p.m. game will be televised live on the SEC Network.
The Colonels, who are guided by head coach Jeff Neubauer (pictured), are 4-2 after falling to Valparaiso at home last Wednesday. Eastern had a two-point lead midway through the second half but the Crusaders used a 22-4 run in the latter stages of the contest to pull away for a 72-66 victory. Senior Timmy Knipp led the Colonels with a season-high 16 points and five rebounds. Fellow senior Corey Walden added 13 tallies and five boards.
EKU has committed 92 fewer turnovers and outscored its opponents by 112 points off turnovers (169-57) this season. The Colonels lead the nation in turnover margin (+15.3). EKU is second in steals per game (13.0) and seventh in three-point field goals per game (10.5).
Two Colonels played games in Rupp Arena as high school stars. Knipp played six state tournament games in Rupp while playing for Elliott County High School. He played in two games as an eighth grader and three in 2009 while helping ECHS to the final four. Robbie Stenzel played four games in Rupp Arena during his career at George Rogers Clark High School. The senior has not played in a game this season due to an injury.
Senior Eric Stutz needs two more rebounds to become the 27th player in school history to grab 500 rebounds.
This is the third straight season EKU has faced a Top 10 team (No. 10 Illinois in 2012-13, No. 4 Wisconsin in 2013-14). It will be Eastern’s third game against a Top 5 opponent since 2007, when the Colonels faced No. 4 North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament on March 15.
No. 1 Kentucky stopped No. 6 Texas Friday night, improving its record to 8-0.
Only one of the Wildcats’ first eight opponents have scored more than 52 points. Their opponents have shot just 28.2 percent from the field, which ranks first in the nation. UK also leads the country in scoring defense, scoring margin and blocks. Kentucky held Montana State to 28 points and allowed Providence to score only 38.
The last time these two teams played, Adam Leonard hit six three-pointers and finished with 20 points, but it wasn’t enough as Kentucky held off Eastern Kentucky, 78-65, Dec. 30, 2006 in Rupp Arena. Lexington native Darnell Dialls had 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
For Kentucky, center Randolph Morris led all players in points (25) and rebounds (10). Ramel Bradley connected on four three-pointers in the second half to keep the Colonels at bay and finished with 20 points.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught