Road trip continues Saturday in Kent, Ohio for men’s basketball
Eastern (8-13, 3-7 MAC) lost an 81-68 decision on Thursday, Feb. 3 in a catch-up game at Ohio University. Meanwhile, Kent State (12-9, 7-4 MAC) has won three straight, most recently posting a 78-65 road victory at the University of Miami on Feb. 1.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN+. Fans can also stream the game on WEMU (89.1 FM) and the Varsity Network app with Tom Helmer.
ROAD TRIPPIN’: Eastern Michigan is in the middle of three straight road games with contests at Ohio on Feb. 3, Kent State on Feb. 5 and Buffalo on Feb. 8. The team stays on the road for the entire trip before returning home after the game in Amherst, NY
It was the team’s longest road swing since Feb. 5-11, 1998. That year, the Eagles played Akron (Feb. 5 – L, 76-69), Kent State (7 February – W, 79 -74), and at Ball State (February 11 – W, 89-77).
CELEBRATION FOR THE AGES: Ahead of Saturday’s game, Kent State will honor the 20th anniversary of the Golden Flashes’ 2002 run to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. Current EMU head coach Stan Heath was the bench leader in Kent that season, helping set a program-best 30-6 record. The team beat No. 7 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Pittsburgh, before falling to eventual national runner-up Indiana. The team set MAC records for overall wins (30), conference wins (17), and longest winning streak (21 games).
WE WANT IT MORE! : After leading NCAA Division I basketball for more than three weeks, Eastern Michigan now ranks sixth nationally with an average of 76.4 possessions per game. The Eagles haven’t had the same success on the road, where they’re averaging 72.4 this season.
Last season, EMU averaged 71.3 possessions per game, ranking 164th in Division I.
FIRST YEAR TOP-10: First-year student Noah Farrakhan ranked in the top 10 on East Michigan’s all-time freshman scoring list with 17 points against Toledo on Feb. 1. The Newark, NJ native became the ninth freshman to score 272 or more points in a season and the first since James Thompson IV (490) in 2015-16.
Additionally, Farrakhan is only the fifth freshman of the 21st century to make the list. The point guard is on track to score 425 points by the end of the regular season. The points total would put him second all-time behind Thompson. The freshman needs 16 points to advance to eighth and pass Derrick Dial (294).
THE IRON MAN OF THE EAST: Between COVID and injuries, there has been a constant in the Eastern Michigan roster, senior captain Darion Spottsville. The guard is the only player in the team to have played in all 21 games so far this season and has started in 20 of those competitions. Additionally, Spottsville leads the team in steals (24), is tied for the lead in assists (42), and is third on the team in blocks (14) and total rebounds (90).
SCOTT ALWAYS HOT: Senior Nate Scott hit double digits in three straight games for the first time in his career (vs. Miami – 25, vs. Toledo -17, at Ohio -16). Moreover, in that three-game stretch, the senior shot above 50-40-90, reaching 58% (21 of 36) from the field, 47.8% from deep (11 of 23) and 3 on -3 from the free throw line.
MORE MB: First-year student Mo Njie scored 10 points against the Bobcats on Feb. 3, marking the second straight game producing a double-digit performance. It is the first time in Njie’s career that he has scored in double figures in consecutive matches. Plus, he was perfect on the court against OU, sinking 4 of 4 on the court and 2 of 2 on the charity strip.
BOSS(ES) BENCH: Eastern has received 20 or more points from the bench in 14 of 21 games this season. Overall, EMU are averaging 22.4 points per game from the bench this season, an advantage over their opponents, who are averaging 19.6 points per game from their non-starters this season. Most recently, EMU saw their bench score 23 against Ohio’s four on Feb. 3.
SPREAD WEALTH: EMU is one of six MAC teams to have three players ranked in the league’s top 23 by scoring. The Eagles join Buffalo, Miami, Ohio, Toledo and Akron to accomplish the feat. First-year student Noah Farrakhan is eighth with 16.4 points per game, senior Monty Scott and junior Bryce McBride are tied for 23rd with 12.2 points per game.
CREATE A SECOND CHANCE: Picking up 10 offensive rebounds at Ohio on Jan. 3, Eastern Michigan has hit double-digit offensive board scores in six games this season. First-year student Mo Njie leads the team with 23 offensive caroms, while senior Darion Spottsville has 22 on the year.
LIKE THIEVES IN THE NIGHT: Eastern Michigan has caught 10 or more steals in a game four times this season, and has 141 this year. EMU’s steals total ranks fourth in the Mid-American conference while its 6.71 spg is sixth. The Eagles recently had seven sweeps in Ohio on Feb. 3.
TAKE THE FREE BEES: Eastern currently ranks fourth in free throw attempts (394) and fifth in makes (286) and percentage (72.6%) in the Mid-American Conference. First-year student Noah Farrakhan leads the team, shooting 80 percent (52 of 65), which ranks 10th in the conference. The rookie recently went 2 of 2 in Ohio on Feb. 3. Additionally, four players were perfect against the Bobcats, the second such outing for the Eagles this season. The first was on the road in DePaul on November 28.
MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU: The Eagles’ opponents are averaging 13.8 turnovers per game, which ranks them fourth in the Mid-American Conference. Most recently, Eastern pressured the Bobcats for 14 turnovers on Feb. 3. Additionally, EMU has forced teams to 20 or more turnovers twice this season: Illinois State, Nov. 12-22, and FIU, Dec. 11-25.
YOU ONLY GET ONE HIT: EMU is averaging 26.9 defensive rebounds per game, which ranks fourth in the Mid-American Conference and 71st nationally. Eastern caught 22 defensive boards most recently in a loss to Ohio on Feb. 3.
KILLER TEAM: Eastern Michigan currently ranks fifth in the Mid-American Conference in blocks per game (3.43) and total blocks (72). EMU is led by a freshman Mo Njie who has 17 total blocks this season. Njie’s 0.9 block per game is ninth in the conference.
FINDING ROTATION AT LAST: With the national COVID surge, combined with the usual gameplay bumps and bruises, EMU did not play with its full rotation of student-athletes dressed for a game for 60 days – from Dec. 5 (vs. Northwood) until to February 3 ( Ohio).
BRYCE HERO BENCH: Youth Bryce McBride has been brilliant off the bench this season, tallying 194 of his 244 points as a reserve. Eastern Michigan saw 470 points from its non-starters this season, with McBride the party responsible for 41.3% of them. Additionally, the junior led the team in points coming off the pin in five games.
BUCKEYE STATE BONANZA: Eastern Michigan wraps up a seven-game streak on Saturday, Feb. 5 against teams from Buckeye State.
BACK TO MAC CENTER: Saturday’s game will mark 14th time as head coach Stan Heath coached at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center in Kent, Ohio. Heath went 12-0 at the MAC Center in 2001-02 while leading the Kent State program, while going 0-1 as a guest coach. The team from Heath, South Florida lost a 56-51 decision in the venerable arena in the 2010-11 season on December 12, 2010.
Against USF, the Golden Flashes trailed up to 11 in the first half and 24-21 at halftime. After the Bulls took a 31-25 lead with 15:59 left, Kent State scored eight straight games to take its first lead over Carlton Guyton’s layup with 12:31 left.
The Bulls would regain the lead, 35-34, just over four minutes later, but Guyton put the Golden Flashes ahead again. His three-pointer with 7:39 left gave Kent State a 37-35 advantage, and he wouldn’t trail the rest of the way.
ALL TIME VS. KENT STATE: Saturday’s contest marks the 82nd meeting between Eastern Michigan and Kent State. The Golden Flashes lead the all-time streak 46-35, dating back to the 1973-74 season. This is the second meeting between the two teams this season as Kent State moved on from Ypsilanti with a 56-47 win, inside the George Gervin GameAbove Center, on January 18.
LAST TIME AGAINST KSU: Youth Bryce McBride led all scorers with 20 points off the bench. Senior Nate Scott added nine points as a freshman Colin Golson Jr. helped with six points. Eastern Michigan grabbed 32 rebounds, compared to 31 for Kent State, led by a freshman At Mo Njie’s set of six boards. Kent State held a 26-17 halftime lead and continued to widen their lead after intermission, building a 40-26 advantage before Eastern raced 5-0 to reduce the deficit at 40-31. The Eagles were unable to further reduce the deficit late in the game as the Golden Flashes prevailed 56-47. KSU scored three players in double digits with Malique Jacobs (17), Sincere Carry (11) and Tervell Beck (11).
EMU’S LAST VICTORY IN KENT: Paul Jackson led the way with 17 points and eight assists, while toppling five of five for the Charity Stripe in the 71-67 victory on Feb. 6, 2018. Elijah Minnie had 15 points and six rebounds. , while James Thompson IV added 12 points and eight boards. Jaylin Walker had 24 points for the Golden Flashes, along with eight assists. Danny Pippen added 13 points and 10 rebounds, while BJ Duling added 11 points.
ON THE HORIZON: Eastern Michigan will close its road trip against the University at Buffalo, in Amherst, NY on Tuesday, February 8 at 7 p.m.