After the loss to North Florida Saturday afternoon, Eastern Michigan men’s basketball coach Rob Murphy made some adjustments to the starting lineups, having Willie Mangum and Tim Bond come off the bench, putting Jodan Price and Raven Lee in the starting position.
It seemed to help as Eastern Michigan won its Mid-American Conference season opener against Central Michigan University Wednesday night, 99-80, in Mount Pleasant.
“Ray Lee, obviously to me, is the best guard and best scorer in the MAC, and today he played like it," Murphy said. "Jodan Price gave us a huge lift earlier when we were down ten and hit a couple threes to keep us in distance.”
During the first half, EMU struggled to contain CMU guard Josh Kozinski, who went 4-for-5 from three point range but EMU responded with quick baskets and smooth ball movement. EMU displayed their highest shooting percentage in a half this season, shooting 60 percent from the floor. Jodan Price also shot his best half of the season, scoring 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting. EMU and Central Michigan went back and forth the entire half until EMU took the lead with three minutes to go in the half. EMU went on to end the half leading by four.
“I can’t say enough about our team as a unit. I thought we played solid," Murphy said. “Them being the number one team in the conference, picked to win this conference with the preseason player of the year, we knew how important this game was to us.”
The second half belonged to the Eagles as Raven Lee scored 15 points in the first nine minutes of the second half. The Eagles jumped out to a seven point lead before a Central Michigan three would end the run. EMU continued to put the pressure on, extending its lead to ten with a three pointer by Price. EMU extended that lead to fifteen with seven minutes left in the game. Raven Lee finished with 32 points on 10-of-13 shooting. James Thompson finished with another double-double, scoring 19 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Jodan Price and Willie Mangum also finished with 19 points each.
“This is the most important part of the season," Lee said. "So I just want to turn it up a notch, be a lot more focused, put in more time in the gym, and hopefully we win the league.”
The Eagles next contest will be against the Huskies of Northern Illinois on Saturday Jan. 9 in Dekalb, Ill. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.