Eastern Michigan University’s men’s basketball team traveled to southern Florida for a match against the University of South Florida, Sunday, Nov. 26. The Eagles overcame a slim first half deficit to take the victory with a final score of 65-47. The Eagles played smothering defense in the second half which lead to the easy victory. The win marks the fifth in the season and gives them a 3-1 record in the Hoosier Tipoff Classic. The Eagles were lead in scoring by guard Paul Jackson who scored 15 with three other teammates joining him in scoring double digits.
The first half started out with a scoring drought for both sides as neither scored until a USF three at the 17 minute mark. Neither team really demonstrated the ability to build a lead early as the largest lead was held by USF at only seven points. James Thompson IV and Elijah Minnie carried a bulk of the scoring in the first half, amounting for 55 percent of their total offense. The two also crashed the glass with great efficiency, securing 11 of the team's 13 first half rebounds. Neither team played with a high level of ball security as they both racked up high first half turnover numbers. EMU turned the ball over seven times while USF lost possession 11 times. As expected with a 29-27 halftime score, neither team shot the ball at a high percentage. EMU narrowly edged out USF by shooting at 37 percent, 9-24, while USF shot 34 percent, 8-23. The close score meant the second half, as well as the game, was completely up for grabs.
In the second half Eastern Michigan’s defense came alive. In addition to the strong performance in the first half, the team truly locked in on its opponents and smothered the defensive end. Things got worse in the shooting department for USF thanks to EMU’s defense. USF shot 24 percent on 6-25 shooting from the field. From behind the arc, USF missed all 10 of its attempts. Guard Paul Jackson took off in the second half, scoring 12 points with six coming from the free throw line. Freshman Malik Ellison had a breakout half, scoring 11 points and draining three shots from deep, including a late dagger that came off a Paul Jackson assist. USF went nearly 10 minutes in between made buckets during the second half, which gave EMU the opportunity to go on an 11-0 run. Thompson secured yet another double double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. He was joined by Jackson, Ellison and guard Tim Bond as Eagles who scored in double digits.
Eastern Michigan now sits at 5-1, with its only loss being to the highly talented Indiana Hoosiers team. Before returning home, the Eagles will make one more stop in Florida as they take on North Florida in Jacksonville, Wednesday, Nov. 29. The team won’t play at home until December when the Eagles take on Oakland, Dec. 6.