WVSU On Demand
January 6, 2010
King's Heroics Lead Bulldogs To 200th Victory For Tillette
The Samford University basketball team's Andy King tied his career-high with 20 points Dec. 22 as the Bulldogs held on for a thrilling 58-56 triumph against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at the Convocation Center. With the victory, Samford head coach Jimmy Tillette became the first coach in school history to reach the 200-win plateau. The winningest coach in Samford history owns a 200-168 all-time record, has compiled an impressive 139-93 mark against conference opponents and has piloted the Bulldogs to NCAA Tournament appearances in both 1999 and 2000.
"I thought that we really played tough down the stretch and we showed a lot of resiliency," said Tillette. "We had some things go wrong, we had some adversity and we were able to fight through it. I thought that our guys were really focused this year and we played a lot better than we did last season against Chicago State before Christmas. I challenged them today and I think they responded."
"This was a good way to get the 200th win," Tillette said. "I saw it in the paper this morning, but then I forgot all about it until the guys were chanting 2-0-0 in the locker room after the game. That was great and I guess it just means that I've been around awhile. These kinds of honors are like being named the tallest person in the fifth grade. If you stay around long enough, you're going to get that award.
Tuesday's loss was Eastern Michigan's (6-5) first home setback of the 2009-10 season. Heading into the contest, the Eagles were 3-0 when playing in the friendly confines of the Convocation Center.
"Eastern Michigan is a very good team and they are tough to play at home," said Tillette. "This was their first loss at home this season and they have good shooters and good players inside. This was a really good win for us. Right now, we just need to continue to get better and prepare to be at our best for the beginning of conference play."
Samford's King, who came off the bench to score a game-high 20 points, turned in the key play of the game with 1:15 left to play in regulation.
With Eastern Michigan leading 54-53, the Bulldogs worked their way through the offense and Josh Davis sent a quick pass around the perimeter to King in the left corner. King, the Bulldogs' 6-foot-8 center from Omaha, Neb., calmly gathered the pass and drained his career-high sixth 3-point basket of the game.
King's clutch 3-pointer gave Samford its critical 56-54 advantage with 1:15 left in the contest. On Eastern Michigan's next possession, Antonio Green missed a 3-point shot and the Bulldogs' Trey Montgomery came right down to score on a slashing layup to increase their lead to 58-54.
With 11 seconds remaining in the game, the Eagles' Matt Balkema scored on a tip-in layup to trim Samford's advantage to 58-56. Eastern Michigan was then forced to foul the Bulldogs four times before finally forcing Montgomery to the line with 1.2 seconds left in regulation.
Montgomery, Samford's senior point guard from Destrehan, La., missed the front end of the 1-and-1, but Eastern Michigan's Brandon Bowdry was well short on the desperation heave at the buzzer.
King tied his career-high with 20 points and also tied a career-high by knocking down six 3-point baskets. The Bulldogs' junior finished the game 6-of-8 from beyond the arc and was 7-of-10 from the floor. Montgomery followed with 14 points on a 6-of-7 performance from the field. He also added three rebounds and a trio of assists.
Eastern Michigan's Bowdry registered the 13th double-double of his career and the seventh this season with 16 points and 13 rebounds. The Eagles' junior from St. Louis, Mo., was 6-of-13 from the field and played 39 of the game's 40 minutes.
Point guard Carlos Medlock paced Eastern Michigan with 19 points and turned in a stellar 7-of-11 performance from the floor. The Eagles senior from Detroit, Mich., was going shot for shot with Samford's King and knocked down five 3-point baskets of his own. Higgins also finished in double figures for Eastern Michigan with 12 points.
After the opening 20 minutes of play, Tuesday's game was deadlocked at 31-31. Both teams shot the ball well in the first half and combined to knock down 14 field goals from beyond the arc. Samford and Eastern Michigan both turned in identical 7-of-15 shooting performances from 3-point range for 46.7 percent.
The first eight field goals of the game came from 3-point range. The Eagles opened the contest with five baskets from beyond the arc, while the Bulldogs' first three buckets were from downtown. Samford's Montgomery recorded the first two-point field goal of the game with a pretty back-door layup at the 13:11 mark in the first half.
Eastern Michigan jumped out to an early 12-6 lead following Higgins' second-straight 3-point basket at 15:14, but Samford continued to knock down shots and eventually cut the deficit to 23-21 with 7:32 remaining to play in the period. At the 2:04 mark in the game, Samford's Davis knocked down a deep 3-point basket from the left flank to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 31-29.
The Eagles ended the first half with a layup from Balkema to tie the score at 31-31.
The Samford University basketball team will next be in action Monday at 7 p.m. (CST) as the Bulldogs return home from the Christmas holidays to square off against the Chicago State Cougars. The non-conference matchup will be FREE to the public and will be held in the Pete Hanna Center.