On Wednesday, the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team fared no better than it had against top tier teams like Syracuse University (84-48) and the University of Michigan (93-54) when it lost to the defending NCAA champion University of Kentucky Wildcats by a score of 90-38.
The Wildcats (9-4) came into the game ranked number 23 in the country.
For the Eagles (7-6), redshirt junior forward Glenn Bryant carried the offense with ten points. He was 4 for 13 (30.8 percent) from the floor and shot 1 of 5 (20 percent) from three-point range. He also made the only free throw he attempted.
Redshirt junior guard Austin Harper scored seven points off the bench. He was 3 for 5 (60 percent) from the floor and made the only three-pointer he shot. Three players (freshman guard Jalen Ross, senior forward Jamell Harris and redshirt junior forward Daylen Harrison) each scored five points in the losing effort.
Kentucky had five players who scored in double digits. Kyle Wiltjer led the way with 17 points for the defending champions. Alex Poythress (16), Ryan Harrow (15), Julius Mays (13) and Willie Cauley-Stein (11) were all front and center as well.
EMU senior center Matt Balkema left the game in the second half with an apparent injury.
Harrison got the Eagles started 14 seconds into the game with a three-pointer. That would be the only time the Eagles led the game. Harrow quickly answered with a three of his own for Kentucky.
Ross then turned over the ball on a steal from Cauley-Stein, who was fouled by Harris. On the ensuing possession, Archie Goodwin made a jumper in the paint, giving the Wildcats a 5-3 lead, which Kentucky continued to add to for the next 48 minutes.
The Eagles have been outshot from three-point range against each of the top tier opponents the team has taken on. Against the Syracuse Orangemen, the team shot 4 for 19 (21.1 percent) while the Orangemen shot 5 for 22 (22.7 percent). Against Michigan, they did significantly worse: The Eagles shot 7 of 26 (26.9 percent) from long distance while the Wolverines were 12 for 24 (50 percent) from beyond the arc.
Against Kentucky, things were no different. The Eagles were 4 for 18 from outside the line (22.2 percent) while the Wildcats were 10 for 26 (38.5 percent). Three-pointers accounted for 1/3 of Kentucky’s scoring on Wednesday night.
Moving forward, the Eagles travel to Amherst, Mass. to take on the University of Massachusetts at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon. UMass is 8-3 this season and shooting 29.8 percent from three-point range, while averaging 7.2 three-pointers per game (before taking on Miami-Ohio on Wednesday evening).
The Eagles will return home Jan. 9 when they play Ball State University at the Convocation Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The game against UMass will be broadcast on WEMU 89.1 FM.