Morehead St seeks one other NCAA upset after 10-year absence

Preston Spradlin didn’t fret when Morehead State stumbled out of the gate, and he’s ensuring the Eagles aren’t snug regardless of their red-hot roll

INDIANAPOLIS — Preston Spradlin didn’t fret when Morehead State stumbled out of the gate, and he’s ensuring the Eagles aren’t snug regardless of their red-hot roll.

In any case, there’s a lot to realize of their long-awaited return to the NCAA Event, as Kentucky’s lone consultant but.

Wednesday marked 10 years since Morehead State’s first-round upset of No. 4 seed Louisville in its final NCAA look. An opportunity to repeat historical past looms Friday evening when the No. 13 seed Eagles (23-7) face (you guessed it) No. 4 West Virginia (18-9) at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Whereas that pairing seems extra coincidental, Morehead’s improvement isn’t. And the fourth-year coach is stressing the significance of sticking to the system that lifted MSU from a 1-4 begin.

“We’ve received the recipe to return down right here and win and achieve success, and we’re persevering with to remind them we aren’t right here for the expertise,” Spradlin stated this week in a digital information convention. “We’re going to get pleasure from this expertise, however we’re not coming down right here to simply say we made the NCAA Event. We’re coming down right here to play our greatest basketball and to win video games.”

Spradlin, a Pikeville, Kentucky, native and former UK staffer underneath coach John Calipari, has steadily constructed towards this since changing into interim coach in December 2016 following Sean Woods’ resignation amid an unbiased investigation of assault allegations by two gamers. Spradlin guided the 2-7 Eagles to a 12-9 end to earn the job completely, solely to go 34-60 over the following three seasons.

These down years instantly appear way back with their outstanding turnaround.

MSU is using a 19-1 surge, the very best 20-game stretch in program historical past. Its run consists of a powerful sweep via the Ohio Valley Convention Event, highlighted by an 86-71, championship recreation defeat of top-seeded Belmont to earn the mid-major league’s computerized bid. The Eagles had every week off earlier than seeing their draw Sunday evening and erupting jubilantly at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It’s been two years within the making,” Spradlin stated. “I do know that makes it additional particular for myself and our program to be concerned within the match this yr.”

Calipari tweeted congratulations, calling Spradlin’s teaching job “unimaginable” and including, “We’re all pleased with him!!!

Transfers together with guards Skyelar Potter (Wright State) and KJ Hunt Jr. (McNeese State), and holdovers resembling senior ahead James Baker Jr. have helped present expertise. Freshman ahead Johni Broome, the OVC’s high freshman and match MVP, has been essentially the most vital addition, anchoring the submit with 13.9 factors and 9 rebounds per recreation.

Growing familiarity and chemistry with 4 new starters took a minute, and early season non-conference routs by Kentucky, Richmond and Ohio State adopted. Spradlin anticipated rising pains however observed promise after a double-digit loss at then-No. 24 Clemson in December.

MSU ran off 12 consecutive OVC wins and haven’t regarded again.

“That was once we knew we had a reasonably particular staff,” stated Baker, the staff’s lone senior and a four-year participant. “We simply needed to keep constant and stick collectively.”

Protection has been the Eagles’ energy, which they’ll want towards a Mountaineers squad with 5 succesful excessive scorers. Veteran coach Bob Huggins additionally continues pursuit of his 900th profession win late Friday.

It doesn’t matter what occurs, Spradlin believes this season can result in greater issues for his program. By protecting in-state gamers resembling Baker and junior guard DeVon Cooper and attracting promising gamers resembling Broome and transfers, Morehead State lastly has the breakout season Spradlin envisioned.

“Once I received the job 4 years in the past,” he stated, “I instructed our administration it was going to take a while as a result of I used to be going to be very dedicated to doing it a sure means that we have been going to have good steadiness.

“We belief our personal evaluations, clearly, and it’s finished properly for us.”


Extra AP school basketball: and—Top25

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