GAME NOTES: The Eastern Michigan Eagles fly into the Pete Mathews Coliseum for a non-conference tilt with the Jacksonville State Gamecocks this afternoon.
EMU is 1-0 after its season opening 66-52 victory over Rochester College on Friday. It wasn't a very strong offensive performance in its season debut, converting 49 percent of its field goal attempts and 4-of-12 from three-point range. The Eagles performed poorly in non-conference action last season under Rob Murphy in his first season at the helm of the program. Murphy still managed to lead EMU to a 9-7 MAC record, which was the best mark in the West Division.
The Gamecocks are also 1-0 after they opened up the season with a 93-63 rout of Reinhardt. JSU was trailing in the contest, 28-27, with just over three minutes left in the first half before building a commanding lead with a 20-5 run. Despite the 30-point victory, the Gamecocks made only 2-of-13 attempts from beyond the arc. JSU was the most improved team in the Ohio Valley Conference last season, jumping from five wins to 15 under coach James Green.
This will be just the second meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. Eastern Michigan picked up a thrilling 63-60 victory on Feb. 19, 2011 in the first encounter. Derek Thompson drained a three-pointer in the corner with just 2.8 seconds left on the clock to give the Eagles the edge.
There were question marks around who would be the Eagles' new go-to-guy with Darrell Lampley gone. Three different players stepped up and reached double digits in points in the team's season-opener. Derek Thompson led the way with 14 points, while Daylen Harrison and freshman Ray Lee provided 12 each. Lee also showed off his excellent court vision and passing ability by dishing out seven assists in 18 minutes. Jalen Ross, who is also a freshman guard, had five assists in his debut with the program. James Still and Matt Balkema are both adept rebounders with decent size.
All three of JSU's starting guards managed to score in double figures in its season opener. Darion Rackley and Brian Williams each netted 14 points and dished out three assists, while Ronnie Boggs scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor. Forward Tarvin Gaines also had 14 points, while Nick Cook pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. The unselfish play by the Gamecocks was infectious as 21 of their 33 field goals were assisted.
This one should be a closely contested battle like the first time these two schools butted heads. Lee hardly showed signs of being a freshman in his debut for EMU. If he can continue to display the composure of a veteran guard, the Eagles will exceed expectations this season. This will be his first test against a Division I program. JSU will be out to avenge last season's heartbreaking loss.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Michigan 70, Jacksonville State 68
11/11 10:33:34 ET
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