The Eastern Michigan (9-2) men’s basketball team travelled to the Breslin Center to face the No. 15 Michigan State Spartans (9-3) on Saturday, Dec. 21. The Eagles now have a 9-2 record, tied with Kent State at the top of the MAC. The Spartans dominated the game from the tip-off, outscoring the Eagles 41-20 in the first half.
“I thought they were really good in transition. Cassius Winston did an unbelievable job of scoring, passing the basketball, getting his teammates involved. Hats off to the home team. They did a tremendous job the whole game,” EMU head coach Rob Murphy said. “They were well prepared. We couldn’t get any open looks.
Michigan State was coming off a 77-72 win over Northwestern and they kept that momentum going in this one. Eastern Michigan didn’t score their first point until two minutes into the game off of a free throw from Boubacar Toure. In the first half, Eastern Michigan shot just 19% from the field, and 8% from the 3-point arc.
“Any time you can’t score, it’s really tough on the defense to get stops. They did an unbelievable job. They moved the ball well,” Murphy said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well. I thought we missed our opportunities at the free throw line. It was a little disappointing on that end but all in all, this is a really good basketball team.”
They tied Michigan State in turnovers, each with nine, but Michigan State had 17 points off those turnovers compared to Eastern Michigan’s three points. Michigan State had 12 assists compared to Eastern Michigan’s three. In the second half, Michigan State continued their domination over the Eagles with a final score of 101-48.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo discussed Murphy and the Eagles: “He has Big Ten length. He has Big Ten athletes. But they didn’t shoot the ball very well and they didn’t shoot the ball well from the free throw line. We finally made some threes. To score 100 points on them, that doesn’t happen, he’s a really good coach. I think that was impressive.”
As a team, the Spartans shot 50% from the 3-point line and 54% from the field. Eastern Michigan finished shooting 23% from the field and 10% from the arc. The Spartans also took possession of the boards and took away second chances for Eastern Michigan, pulling down 41 defensive rebounds compared to Eastern Michigan’s 24 rebounds.“We were 9-2 and this game doesn’t decide a MAC championship. We put ourselves in a great position to be 9-1 and every game on our schedule is a winnable basketball game,” Murphy said. “Any time you’re watching a Hall of Fame coach and a top-10 coach in the NCAA, you continue to learn. It’s so much I take from watching these guys from afar.”
Cassius Winston had a premier performance, scoring 21 points and shooting 50% from both the 3-point line and the field, as well as seven assists. Ty Groce led Eastern Michigan’s scoring with nine points. Eastern Michigan plays UNLV on Saturday Dec. 28. The Eagles will kick off conference play on Saturday, Jan. 4 with a game against Akron at the Convocation Center.