Smith's career-high shooting leads men's basketball past Panthers
Just two days after breaking the record for career three-point shots made at Southeast Missouri State University, Marland Smith tied another record on the way to leading the Redhawks to a victory over Ohio Valley Conference opponent Eastern Illinois.
Smith made a career-high nine 3-pointers, which tied a school record for threes made in a game, in Southeast's 77-64 win over the Panthers.
"I just wanted to come out and win," Smith said. "Once I got those first couple to go down I just kept shooting them. [My teammates] kept finding me and they kept going down."
Smith led all scorers with 29 points on 10-for-16 shooting.
"He's playing with a lot of confidence," Southeast coach Dickey Nutt said. "He's shooting the ball well, but more importantly our screening has been a lot better. He's been able to separate himself from the defenders with good screening."
The win comes as revenge for the Redhawks, who lost to EIU 78-72 in overtime on Jan. 26.
Southeast got off to a quick 7-0 start in the first two minutes of the game and continued to extend its lead. The Redhawks' biggest lead of the game came with 1 minute, 23 seconds left in the first half when Smith and guard Corey Wilford combined for five consecutive three point baskets.
Southeast shot 62.1 percent in the first half and EIU shot only 27.6 percent.
"I did anticipate them to have four guys around Tyler and Nino every time they caught the ball," Nutt said. "So we prepared the last couple days that our guards have got to make certain basket cuts and one more pass out of the post and you've got to hit some shots."
After halftime the Panthers were able steadily pull the game within reach on 54.8 percent shooting in the second half. The closest EIU came was a 12-point deficit with 6:23 left in the game.
Southeast had eight turnovers in the second half and were outrebounded 19-15.
"I didn't like our intensity in the second half," Nutt said. "A lot of careless mistakes, I credit them for that. They turned up the heat a little bit and we didn't accept that very well. But I was glad to get this game over with and get back in the winning column."
The Redhawks improve to 13-13 and 5-7 in the OVC, which puts them in second place of the OVC West Division.
Southeast had three other players score in double figures. Wilford finished with 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and five rebounds. Forward Tyler Stone added 13 points and five rebounds. He was 5-for-5 on free throws. Guard A.J. Jones finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
"I thought he was a difference maker out there tonight because he was able to defend pretty good and then offensively he was able to do some good, rebounding on the offensive end and able to get to the basket and get some easy shots," Nutt said about Jones.
Guard Lucas Nutt finished with 10 of Southeast's 19 assists. He also scored five points.
EIU was led by guard Alex Austin with 16 points, three rebounds and three steals. Forward Sherman Blanford finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
Southeast's next game is against UT Martin at 6 p.m. Saturday in Martin, Tenn. UT Martin has a record of 4-8 in OVC play and 7-17 overall.
"Four games on the road to end the conference season is always gonna be hard, no matter who you play. But at the same time I think they're all winnable," Nutt said.
"I think we've got to prepare right and make sure that we're doing the right things and I think if we play hard and play with our heart, play unselfish basketball like we're playing right now, we'll have a chance," Nutt said. "We look forward to that."