Ford now has his EKU Colonels two wins shy of making the NCAA tournament for the first time in 26 years. On March 1, Eastern beat Tennessee State 74-68 in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament on EKU's home floor. The win over Tennessee State was also number 20 on the season. After the game, Ford had to choke back tears when he talked about what the win, and this season has meant to him.
"20 wins! Looking back at it five years ago, I didn't know if it was possible," Ford said.
It's a long way from his first two years as the head coach at EKU when the Colonels won only 14 games combined.
"It's been tough," he admitted. "You know, 20 wins is a milestone. No question! And at this level when you have to play Kentucky, Louisville, Florida, Dayton, we got lucky we beat them, it's tough to get 20 wins. It's like 27 or 28 wins anywhere else."
The Colonels now face Southeast Missouri in the OVC tournament semi-finals in Nashville on March 4. EKU already beat SEMO 83-72 earlier this season. The OVC championship game will be played on March 5. Number one seed Tennessee Tech, coached by former UK assistant coach Mike Sutton, and Austin Peay make up the other semi-final matchup.
With his voice cracking, Ford said, "I'm very proud of my team. Very proud of my team."
RYAN LEMOND is one of the more recognizeable faces on local TV in Lexington as the sportscaster for WLEX-TV, channel 18 in Lexington. You can read Ryan Lemond articles here on Kentucky Sports Report several times a week as well as Kentucky Sports Report - the magazine. If you have a question or comment, ask him on the message boards.