MOREHEAD, Ky. – Morehead State men’s basketball opened the 2018-19 season Tuesday with four players in double figures in the point column en route to a 102-82 victory over Kentucky Christian at Johnson Arena.
Sophomore forward Malek Green topped the offense with a career-best 18 points, while sophomore guard De’von Cooper also registered a career-best point output with 16. Green also helped the Eagles to a 48-24 rebounding edge with a team-best nine.
“I thought Malek had a nice game tonight,” said head coach Preston Spradlin. “He didn’t settle for shots and was pretty aggressive on the boards. We got some valuable minutes for our freshmen and newcomers. You just can’t simulate that in practice, but overall I wasn’t all that pleased. I didn’t think we played our game. Give them (KCU) credit. They played hard, and we let them hang around. In a game like tonight, we needed to come out and jump on them quicker. We’ll be working hard to improve.”
Green was 9-of-14 from the floor, while Cooper was 7-of-9. Off the bench, freshman forward Ja’cori Wilson notched nine points and six rebounds, while freshman forward Sasha Sukhanov corralled seven caroms in his collegiate debut. Sophomore forward James Baker also had a career-best day on the glass, securing eight.
MSU raced out to 8-0 lead before KCU got its first bucket. The Eagles shot 60 percent (26-of-43) in the opening 20 minutes to take a 61-41 lead.
The Knights kept the game within reach, including trailing just 32-28 with 8:17 left in the first period. But, a 20-9 run, sparked by a breakaway slam from Riddle, pushed the Eagles to a 52-37 cushion.
From the 16-minute mark of the final half until the final horn, the hosts maintained an advantage of between 16 and 22 points. Morehead State held a sizable advantage in points in the paint (64-28). The Eagles also grabbed 21 offensive boards, leading to 33 second-chance points.
“Our guys did a nice job in getting rebounds and being aggressive on the offensive glass,” said Spradlin.
Connor Maddox came off the bench for 22 points, including six triples, for the Knights. The Eagles finished the game shooting 54 percent.
Morehead State continues its early-season schedule Thursday at Connecticut in the 2K Empire Classic. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.
“We have a tough challenge, but our guys are ready to go up to Connecticut and show what we’ve worked on and challenge them,” Spradlin concluded.