Preview: EMU basketball vs. MSU
Coming off a huge 45-42 upset win over the University of Michigan Wolverines, the Eastern Michigan men’s basketball team looks to pull off yet another upset as they take on the Michigan State Spartans Wednesday night. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 9 p.m. at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
Eastern is coming off quite possibly the biggest win in the past 15 years. They hadn’t defeated Michigan since the 1997-98 year when they were led by Earl Boykins and Derrick Dial.
The Eagles were praised after the game by Michigan coach John Beilein saying that their 2-3 zone was "as good of a zone defense as I've ever seen, as quick of a zone defense as I've ever seen anytime, anywhere."
The Eagles will look to shut down Michigan State’s offense in the same way they shut down Michigan’s Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin.
Although their defense was locked down against Michigan, Eastern's offense left much to be desired. The Eagles shot 32 percent from the field with Jodan Price being the only Eagle in double digit points with 11. They will need to improve their shooting against this Michigan State team.
The drought against Michigan State is an even longer one. The Eagles have not defeated the Spartans since the 1987-88 year when they won 84-80 in overtime. That team was led by former Miami Heat/Detroit Pistons forward Grant Long. The game, oddly enough, happened on the exact same date as this year’s game, Dec. 17.
The Spartans are coming off a very good three point shooting night in which they launched 10 threes in their 87-61 win over Oakland University, Sunday night at the Breslin Center.
The Eagles will have to shut down the trio of Travis Trice, Denzel Valentine and Branden Dawson. The three combined for 40 of the Spartans 87 points.
The Spartans have the depth to spread the points around which could cause some serious problems for the Eagles defense. They had five guys with double-digit points in their contest with Oakland.
We will see if Michigan State shoots lights out or if Eastern Michigan’s 2-3 zone is able to shut
down State’s offense and gain another upset win.
Players to Watch:
Ray Lee, guard - Lee is coming off of a poor offensive game against Michigan where he shot 2-8 from the field but he is still averaging 15 points per game. Lee will look to get back on track Wednesday night.
Jodan Price, forward - Price looks as if he finally has found his three point shot. He hit 3 of his 5 attempts in their game against Michigan and the Eagles need him to keep that hot hand going into Wednesday’s matchup.
Branden Dawson, forward - Dawson was able to score 15 points against Oakland shooting 7-14 from the field. Dawson also pulled in six rebounds and is two points away from scoring his 1,000 career point for the Spartans.
Denzel Valentine, guard - Valentine is coming off of an excellent shooting night including 5 for 6 from three.
Follow Andrew Mascharka on Twitter: @amascharka