The win was made even more special for the Eagles as the court inside the George Gervin GameAbove Center was renamed in honor of former head coach Ben Braun by Eastern Michigan prior to the game. Before the 1985–86 season began, Braun took the post of assistant head coach at Eastern. However, on Jan. 15, 1986, halfway through the season, he was promoted to temporary head coach. The rest is history.
Check out the Echo's feature with Braun: EMU Basketball court's new name honors record-holding leader
Defending the nest on Saturday, Nov. 18, the Eastern Michigan University men's basketball team defeated Cleveland State University, 69-62, behind 31 points from junior Tyson Acuff (Detroit, Mich.).
“He’s a great communicator with his teammates. His teammates really respond to his leadership on and off the court,” said head coach Stan Heath on Acuff’s stellar performance. Heath went on to say Acuff is one of those guys that plays for himself and for other people.
Junior Julius Ellerbe (Fort Washington, Md.) and junior Yusuf Jihad (Farmington Hills, Mich.) both scored 10 points in the first half. Acuff scored 17 points on a 6-for-6 start from the field.
With 13:26 remaining in the first half, Eastern Michigan started on a 7-0 run, completed by a three from Acuff, to grab a 20-13 lead after the teams were tied at 13 points apiece. Then, the Eagles gave up their lead and trailed 32–29 at the half.
With 4:48 remaining in the game, redshirt junior John McGriff (Glenn Dale, Md.) completed a 7-0 run to extend Eastern Michigan's advantage to 61-53. Eastern Michigan had taken the lead after the interval. Before the game ended, the Vikings managed to cut the deficit significantly, but the Eagles won 69–62 by cruising the remainder of the way.
With 18 of its 40 points coming from players who did not start, Eastern Michigan benefited from having a strong bench during that time.
“We felt like coming into this year, we had to become a team with an identity of rebounding and defending," Health explained. “So I think our players are starting to see very clearly what you have to do to give ourselves a chance.”
Eastern improved to 2-2 on the season while Cleveland State moved to 3-2. In contrast to Cleveland State, which was 23-of-67 (34.3%) from the floor and 5-of-21 (23.8%) from three-point range, Eastern Michigan shot 25 of 53 (47.2%) from the floor and 5-of-15 (33.3%) from close range.
Acuff's 31-point outing marked the third time in his career that he has scored 30-plus points in a game and the sixth time he has scored 20-plus points in a game. Ellerbe led Eastern with eight rebounds, while four players got six or more. Acuff, Jihad, and Junior Jalin Billingsley (Georgetown, Ohio) each had six boards.
The match between Cleveland State and Eastern Michigan on Saturday was their 33rd encounter as the Eagles took their 24th all-time win over the Vikings.
Next, Eastern Michigan is scheduled to travel to the University of Detroit Mercy for a 7 p.m. start on Tuesday, Nov. 21. The game will be on ESPN+.
For more updates on the EMU men's basketball team, you can visit The Echo's website.