CEDAR CITY, Utah – Trailing by eight early in the second half, Eastern Kentucky scored 12 straight to key a 20-4 run to go on top by eight on its way to a 73-64 victory at Southern Utah on Wednesday.
It was the Colonels (4-0) first road game of the season.
Corey Walden scored a career-best and game-high 33 points. His lay-up at the 4:55 mark of the second half made the senior the 33rd player to score 1,000 points as a Colonel.
He made 10-of-17 from the field, 5-of-6 from three-point range and 8-of-10 from the stripe. He also had three assists and two steals.
Timmy Knipp scored 13 points, all in the second half. Eric Stutz pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.
Eastern was behind 42-34 when a three-point barrage began the game-changing run. Jonathan Hood got it started, Knipp hit one, then Walden and another from Knipp for 12 unanswered. Two free throws by Walden finished off what became a 20-4 run.
After making just 27 percent of its three-pointers in the first half, the Colonels made 6-of-15 in the second for 40 percent. EKU out-rebounded the home team 38-37 and committed seven fewer turnovers.
SSU made 52 percent of its first half shots, but connected on just 33 percent in the second, including only 3-of-11 from behind the arc.
Southern Utah (0-4) scored the first basket of the game to put Eastern behind for the first time all season. The Colonels trailed 5-2 before using a 15-2 run to take a 10-point lead. Jaylen Babb-Harrison had and old-fashioned three-point play and Walden and Hood each drained a three-pointer during the run.
The Thunderbirds answered with a 15-4 run to tie the game 24-24. The home squad used a late 7-0 first half run to build edge in front 32-30 and took a 34-31 lead into the break at the half.
The Colonels continue their two-game road trip on Saturday at BYU. The two teams entered Wednesday’s games as the top-2 scoring teams in the nation. Tip-off in Provo, Utah is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET.
Eastern Kentucky entered the game first in the nation in scoring at 102 points per game and third in scoring defense (46 ppg).
Three players entered Wednesday’s game ranked in the top-20 in the nation in steals. Corey Walden was first in the country with 4.33 steals per game. Isaac McGlone was third with an average of four per game. Jaylen Babb-Harrison was 19th at three steals per game.
The Colonels began the day ranked first in the country in scoring margin (+56.0), assist-to-turnover ratio (2.37), steals per game (17.7) and turnover margin (+24.7).
Eastern Kentucky had never trailed in any of its first three games of the season.
Eastern’s first three opponents this season averaged 33.7 turnovers per game. Southern Utah finished with 18 turnovers on Wednesday.
Southern Utah had allowed all three of its opponents to shoot 50 percent or better from the field and 50 percent or better from three-point range. Eastern made 37 percent of its shots from the field and 35 percent from deep.
Since the start of the 2012-13 season, Eastern Kentucky is now 16-2 in the month of November.
EKU also entered the game among the nation’s leaders in assists per game (5th), turnovers per game (6th), three-point field goals per game (8th), free throw percentage (9th) and field goal percentage (18th).
Senior Eric Stutz entered the game with the sixth best field goal percentage in the nation (76 percent).
Corey Walden needed 27 points to become the 33rd player to score 1,000 points as a Colonel. He now needs 70 more steals to break the EKU career record of 221.
Eric Stutz is 108 points and five rebounds away from becoming the 13th player in Eastern Kentucky to score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds.
This was the first-ever meeting between the two schools.