Cape Central alum Kinyon Hodges leads TSU to road win over Redhawks

TSU's Kinyon Hodges celebrates with teammates during a timeout in the Tigers' 77-74 win over SEMO on Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau.
Clay Herrell ~

Back in his hometown, Cape Central alum and Tennessee State’s Kinyon Hodges led the way to a 77-74 Tigers win over the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks Saturday night.

Hodges poured in 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting and also hauled in 7 rebounds in the win.

“It feels good,” Hodges said. “It’s always a good feeling when you come back to your hometown and you play in front of your fans and the people that watched you play in high school. It’s always a good feeling and it feels good to get the dub.”

Hodges said returning to the Show Me Center is something he looks forward to every season.

Hodges is in his first season with the Tigers after transferring from Eastern Illinois.

“I’m loving it,” Hodges said. “I have great teammates and great coaches, so I fit right in.”

The game's scoring was kicked off by an onslaught of three-pointers from both sides.

SEMO’s Adam Larson started the three-point shooting with a left-wing triple to make it 4-3 Tennessee State.

On the ensuing possession, the Tigers’ Christian Brown began his barrage of three-pointers as he knocked one down to make it 7-3 Tigers.

Over the next two and a half minutes, Brown would knock down two more three-pointers to help propel Tennessee State to a 15-8 lead at the first media timeout.

“We’ve done a good job of defending the three-point line all season,” Redhawks coach Brad Korn said. “I just thought our ball screen defense was poor today for whatever reason.”

A 9-3 run in just over three minutes was enough to give the Tigers a 27-15 lead with less than eight minutes to play in the first half.

The story of the first half was the rebounding as the Redhawks were outrebounded 25-11 in the opening 20 minutes.

“We knew that if we rebounded, we could get out in transition,” Korn said. “I think early on we were just assuming we would get the rebound and so that took us out of rebounding position on the weak side, which then obviously gave them offensive rebounds.”

Despite being outrebounded, the Redhawks reeled off five unanswered points in the final minute of the first half to cut the Tigers’ lead to 38-29 entering the locker room at halftime.

“It was huge,” Korn said. “Our guys have continued to fight and fight and battle which is nice to see.”

Leading the first half scoring for the Redhawks was Josh Earley and Evan Eursher, who both dropped in six points to pace the Redhawks.

After capitalizing on the momentum generated at the end of the first half, the Redhawks’ inability to string together stops plagued them early in the second half.

The Tigers’ lead expanded to 54-39 after a 9-2 burst in two minutes.

“I don’t know what we were doing on our ball screen defense,” Korn said. “We had a couple of guys just doing their own thing, and you can’t play defense with one or two people. Everyone has to know what’s going on. When you do your own thing, a lot of people get caught up watching the ball and the other three people are the most important in ball screen coverage and when you’re doing your own thing the ball goes where you’re not as a weak side defender and then we’re just completely exposed.”

Credit to the Redhawks. They didn’t roll over as they continued to battle back into the contest.

The once 15-point second-half lead for the Tigers was trimmed to 68-59 with four minutes remaining in regulation.

With less than three minutes to play, the Redhawks kept battling back as a three-pointer from Rob Martin made it 69-64 Tigers.

With the Redhawks rolling, Hodges drove baseline for a two-handed dunk that was nearly a shot clock violation.

The officials went to review, and after taking their time looking at it, they deemed the ball had left Hodges’ hands, therefore counting the bucket and extending the Tigers’ lead to 71-66.

“I don’t know how if a kid is touching the basketball it’s not a shot clock violation,” Korn said. “To me, that’s the definition of a shot clock violation. I don’t know why (the ball can be in your hand) in the rim but not at the three-point line. If it’s in your hand it’s in your hand. That makes no sense to me, but there are not a lot of rules that make sense to me. They went to the monitor, and they said that it’s a rule that if the ball is in the rim, you can count it. It was a huge play that didn’t go our way.”

After a Josh Earley layup got the Redhawks within 1, Tennessee State’s Justin Williams worked into the lane for a pretty scoop layup to push the lead to 73-70 with 30 seconds remaining.

The Redhawks had a prime look at two game-tying three-pointers, but neither fell and the Tigers escaped with a 77-74 win.

“In late-game situations, I thought our guys did a phenomenal job,” Korn said. “Evan (Eursher) has been our hottest three-point shooter the last five games so we were going to go to Evan.”

Leading the Redhawks offensively was Josh Earley who had 22 points and 8 rebounds.

Also scoring in double digits was Rob Martin with 17 points and Eursher with 12 points.

SEMO (8-17, 3-9 OVC) returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, when the Redhawks travel to take on Eastern Illinois.

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