The Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team began a two-game road trip on Tuesday, Jan. 24 with a game against the Toledo Rockets inside of Savage Arena. EMU dropped their fifth straight game as Toledo rallied to overcome an 11-point deficit late to win the contest 84-79. However, it was sophomore Emoni Bates who stole the show and had a historic night as he dropped a career-high 43 points.
Bates’ 43 points put the Ypsilanti native at third in EMU’s record book for most points in a game all-time. Bates passes Carlos Medlock’s 42 scored on Mar. 10, 2010, and sits behind only Ray Lee who scored 46 points on Feb. 2, 2016, and 50 points on Feb. 28, 2017.
Bates’ career night didn’t end with his scoring total though. He registered a new career high in made three-pointers with nine, surpassing the previous eight he made against the University of South Carolina on Dec. 30, 2022. This total awards Bates a split share of second place on the EMU all-time list of three-pointers made in a game. Lee holds the top spot on this all-time list as well with 10 three-pointers made in the same game where he scored 50 points on Feb. 28, 2017.
Bates’ 15 made field goals is another career-high that the young star achieved in his jaw-dropping performance on Tuesday night against the Toledo Rockets. It is also another stat that will earn him a spot in the EMU record books. His 15 made field goals give him lone possession over the second most field goals made all-time in a single game for the Eagles. Bates moves past Brian Tolbert’s 14 field goals made on Mar. 16, 1996, and once again trails Ray Lee, who made 17 field goals in arguably one of the best games ever played by an EMU basketball player.
Sophomore Noah Farrakhan also made his way into double-digit scoring figures with 14 points that all came in the second half of the game. Farrakhan also led the team in rebounds with nine.
Bates also did his fair share on the glass and grabbed seven rebounds, and sophomore Jalen Billingsley caught five.
The beginning of the opening half was relatively quiet as Billingsley had the Eagles’ first four points of the game, and the score was only 5-4 in favor of Toledo after four and a half minutes of gameplay. The Rockers would then go on a 6-0 scoring run to get out to an 11-4 advantage early until senior Yusuf Jihad hit a jumper that would bring EMU within five points.
Bates proceeded to go on one of the best scoring runs by any single basketball player, professional or collegiate, in recent history, scoring the next 29 points for the Eagles. It was lights out from deep as he converted seven triples on nine attempts in the remainder of the first half, but Toledo as a team was able to keep pace with Bates’ offensive explosion and took a one-point lead into halftime by a score of 36-35.
Emoni Bates' first-half performance drew attention from star basketball players across the nation on Tuesday night, but NBA legend and Ohio native Lebron James took particular interest, quote-tweeting a post of the game with “MY GOODNESS!!!!! STRAIGHT KILLER!! THAT’S INSANE.”
Coming out of the break, it was clear the Rockets had a defensive game plan centered around locking down Bates.
Farrakhan responded to this strategy by shouldering a portion of the offensive load and scoring 12 points in the first 11 minutes of the second half and was making timely passes to facilitate the offense and help the team get out to an 11-point advantage, 67-56 after Billingsley converted both free throws on a trip to the line with 6:51 to go on the clock.
Despite Toledo’s clear plan of putting emphasis on containing him, Bates was able to score 14 second-half points, and yet the Rockets never wavered and slowly chipped away at the Eagles' lead.
A huge swing in momentum occurred when Toledo converted a four-point play after being fouled on a three-point shot which gave the Rockets a 71-69 lead.
EMU hung tight with Toledo down the stretch, but foul trouble on the Eagles' end would lead to the Rockets making all 11 free throw chances they were given. This was ultimately the difference maker in the 84-79 defeat as EMU was within one point with 24 seconds left.
The Eagles will complete their Ohio road trip this Saturday, Jan. 28 in Oxford against the Miami of Ohio RedHawks inside Millet Hall at 3:30 p.m. The game will be live-streamed via ESPN+ and broadcast live on WEMU (89.1 FM) and the Varsity Network App.
For more information on the EMU men’s basketball team, you can listen to "TheBlockE Podcast" weekly for updates on all EMU athletics.