EMU men's basketball (4-0) travels to Montego, Jamaica to play the University of Maryland Baltimore County (4-1) on Friday. The teams will play at the Montego Bay Convention Centre as part of the Jersey Mike's Jamaica Classic, broadcasted on the CBS Sports Network at 2 p.m.
UMBC made history in the 2018 NCAA Tournament as they defeated No.1 seed Virginia 74-54 as a No.16 seed, the first ever 16-seed to beat a one-seed in the tournament’s history. This will be the first game between Eastern Michigan and the Retrievers in their school histories.
EMU defeated North Texas 56-51 on Saturday, Nov. 16. The Mean Green were shooting well from three-point range in that game at 40%, while EMU was not, at 25%. The Eagles had consistent leads throughout the game and had production from their bench, helping them to the five-point victory.
UMBC was a threat from long range in that historic win against Virginia but are only shooting 27% this season from behind the arc. The Retrievers are also averaging 63.5 points per game, compared to EMU's 80 PPG. The Eagles are shooting 48% overall and UMBC is shooting 37.9%.
The three lead scorers for UMBC are Darnell Rodgers (14 PPG), LJ Owens (12 PPG) and Brandon Horvath (10.3 PPG). Rodgers leads the team in assists per game at 3.8 and Horvath leads in rebounds per game with 8.8. The Eagles played their last game against the American East Conference in 2016, when Vermont defeated them 82-74.
EMU is 2-2 all-time against the conference. They play North Carolina A&T on Sunday, also in Jamaica, then they finish the group of away games with UC-Irvine on Nov. 30. Eagles’ head coach Rob Murphy gave credit to each of these road opponents and said they are really good teams.
Murphy also mentioned after last Thursday's win against University of Michigan-Dearborn, the importance of his team's mentality and this stretch of away games: "That’s what I'm looking forward to, the challenging of the mindset, of finding the desire and the passion to want to go play well on the road and win on the road."
EMU is one of three undefeated MAC teams remaining.
Murphy put more emphasis on what these away matchups mean to the team: "Championship-caliber teams relish these moments. They look at this opportunity and they make the best of it. We have a great group this year and we'll continue to get better." He also said that they're going to "approach each and every game like it’s a championship level game."