RICHMOND, Ky. – Kevin Murphy scored a career-high 34 points and Tennessee Tech shot 56 percent from the field en route to an electrifying 82-65 victory over Eastern Kentucky at McBrayer Arena Thursday night. The win moved the Golden Eagles into sole possession of third place in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Tech (13-8, 5-3 OVC) handed the Colonels (12-10, 5-4 OVC) their first home loss of the season – EKU entered the game 8-0 in Richmond. The win was the second-consecutive for the Golden Eagles, who continue their road trip with a nationally-televised contest at Morehead State on Saturday.
Murphy shattered his previous career-high of 31 points, set against Murray State in 2010-11 and again against Wilberforce earlier this season. He secured the milestone when he sank two free throws with 1:09 left to play.
It was also Murphy who helped the Golden Eagles back into control of the game after Eastern Kentucky had cut a 16-point first-half Tech lead to three at the 11:43 mark. With Tech leading 52-46, Murphy sank a three-pointer to extend the lead back to nine. He then scored seven consecutive points on another three, a jumper and a dunk in which he drove the baseline, stretching Tech's advantage back to 62-48.
Murphy also moved up two slots on Tech's all-time scoring list, surpassing Anthony Fisher and Frank Jones to move into fourth. He has now scored 1,749 points in his Tech career.
In addition to his 34 points, Murphy also added six rebounds and three assists and went 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. Jud Dillard scored 14 points, came up one rebound shy of a double-double and went 8-for-9 at the charity stripe. Dillard moved within 21 points of becoming the 34th member of Tech's 1,000-point club – he now has 979 career points.
Chase Dunn added eight points for the Golden Eagles while Zac Swansey and Zach Bailey both contributed seven. Swansey added five rebounds and three assists while Bailey went 5-for-5 at the free-throw line. Bassey Inameti scored four points and blocked three shots, moving into sixth on Tech's all-time blocked shots list. He now has 86 blocks on his career.
Tech shot 56 percent from the field, went 7-for-12 from the tree-point line, and was nearly perfect from the free-throw line, going 27-for-29 to shoot 93 percent. The Golden Eagles were strong defensively as well, holding Eastern Kentucky to 42 percent shooting and keeping the Colonels to just 26 first-half points, the second-lowest number to which Tech has held an opponent in the first half this season (Morehead State scored 25). The Golden Eagles also outrebounded the Colonels 32-21.
Tech jumped on the Colonels early, going on a 14-4 run to take an 18-7 lead with 11:57 left in the first half. The Golden Eagles led by as many as 16 in the first period and went into halftime with a 36-36 advantage.
Eastern Kentucky began to fight its way back in the game around the 14-minute mark of the second half, going on a 14-3 run to cut the Tech lead to three at 48-45 on a Jeff Johnson three-pointer with 11:43 left. From there, however, Dillard converted a layup and Dunn drained two free-throws, extending the lead back to seven and setting the stage for Murphy to put the Colonels away.
Jaron Jones led the Colonels with 23 points and five rebounds while Eric Stutz added 13 points.
The Golden Eagles will face Morehead State on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast live to a national audience on ESPNU.