"We have changed our defensive philosophy this year," Neubauer said. "We were very passive defensively in our man-to-man in previous years, but now we have the quickness, speed and athleticism to get after people and it paid off tonight."
Corey Walden and Mike DiNunno scored 20 points each to lead Eastern Kentucky to a 77-65 Ohio Valley Conference victory over Murray State on Wednesday night.
"I think the difference in our team between tonight and maybe the last few times we played Murray is just how hard our guys played," Neubauer said. "We've always been a very good offensive team. We were very good offensively tonight and the difference was defensively — we forced 17 turnovers, we had 11 steals and that was all the difference."
Eastern Kentucky (13-3, 3-0), which has outscored its first three OVC opponents by 40 points in the first half, scored the first seven points of the game and later used a 24-0 run to take a 31-11 lead 6:25 before halftime.
"I'm not at all surprised (that we were up 20 in the first half)," DiNunno said. "I think I was more surprised at not the score but how (Murray State) was playing. Last year they weren't a team that would let another team make a run like that on them, but obviously they are a different team, missing a lot of good players from last year. We just play our game possession by possession."
The Racers (11-4, 2-1) trailed 67-46 before a 3-pointer by Dexter Fields with 6:56 remaining started them on a 16-0 run. Stacy Wilson and Isaiah Canaan also hit 3-pointers, and another by Jeffrey Moss with 3:33 left brought Murray State within five points, 67-62.
"I hate losing, period," said Canaan, who finished with 24 points. "Every time we lose is a disappointment. We've got to be more focused. We were lackadaisical, we're coming in not focused like we should be, thinking the game is already won before we even play it, and we've got to realize every team is out to beat us."
Two free throws by Walden and a layup by Tarius Johnson pushed the lead back to nine points, 71-62, with 2:21 left. DiNunno had two free throws and Walden two free throws and a layup in the final minute for Eastern Kentucky.
"We were lackadaisical offensively at the start, we were pressing at times, we didn't get ball reversals, and it's my fault because I was trying to push tempo to start the game and ended up working to be a negative," Murray State coach Steve Prohm said. "Defensively, we were just giving up offensive rebounds and layups. You can't get down 20 and expect to come back."
Johnson had 17 points and seven rebounds for the Colonels, whose victory was their first in Murray in four years.
Wilson added 16 points for Murray State, and Canaan, who became the Racers' all-time leader in 3-pointers made last Saturday, added four more to increase his career total to 258.