The Eastern Michigan mens basketball team continues its the season with a 2-1 record after defeating Siena Heights University by a score of 79-34 on Friday, Nov. 20. Following a huge win over the Saints, the Eagles will hit the road to face off the no. 13 ranked Michigan State University Spartans on Monday, Nov. 23.
The Spartans currently hold an undefeated record of 3-0, and are ranked 13th in the nation according to the Top 25 AP poll and is slated to win the Big Ten Conference.
Eastern Michigan and Michigan State only face-off against each other periodically, and the series holds a record of 4-29 in favor of the Spartans. The Eagles have only won four out of its 33 previous matchups against the Spartans.
The last meeting between the teams was hosted in East Lansing last season, where the Eagles attempted to keep momentum rolling after defeating the University of Michigan earlier in the week.
The Eagles were handed an upsetting loss against the Spartans on the evening of the Dec. 17, losing by a score of 66-47. Eastern averaged a shooting percentage of 22.6 percent compared to MSU’s scoring average of 37.7 percent.
The Eagles now hold a 47 percent shooting average through three games this season, along with an average of 22 percent from three-point range and 76 percent in free-throw shooting.
Michigan State holds an average of 50 percent in field goals, 38 percent in three-point shooting, and 68 percent in free-throws in the Big Ten Conference.
For the Eagles to have a successful game against top-ranked Michigan State, Eastern must have better ball control against the Spartans. Leading scorer Willie Mangum must be able to lead the team in scoring percentage, along with Brandon Nazione and James Thompson, who both leads the Eagles in rebounding.
EMU coach Rob Murphy stated that taking care of the basketball would help would lead the team to less turnovers and better shot opportunities during the game. But the Eagles will need to do more, including shutting down NCAA Tournament stand out Denzel Valentine.
Valentine currently leads the Spartans in points-per-game with 16.3, rebounds-per-game with nine, assists-per-game with 10.7. Michigan State isn’t a one-man team though, and the Eagles will have to contain players like Bryn Forbes, Matt Costello and Javon Bess to defeat the Spartans.
The Eagles will also have to develop a strong game defensively in order to stop MSU’s strong field goal shooting. The Eagles will also have to get more stops while forcing turnovers. Freshman center James Thompson will also have to keep out of foul trouble against the Spartans, as the Eagles have played better at both sides of the ball when Thompson is on the floor.
Tip-off for Eastern Michigan and Michigan State is slated for Monday at 7 p.m. at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.