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Eastern Michigan (10-12) at Akron (15-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 4th, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: James A. Rhodes Arena (5,500) -- Akron, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: Eastern Michigan 6-2, Akron 9-1. Away Record: Eastern Michigan 4-9, Akron 6-5. Neutral Record: Eastern Michigan 0-1, Akron 0-1. Conference Record: Eastern Michigan 5-3, Akron 7-1. Series Record: Series tied 19-19.
GAMES NOTES: The Mid-American Conference's top team will try to defend its home court when the Akron Zips host the Eastern Michigan Eagles at James A. Rhodes Arena.
The all-time series between these two squads is tied at 19-19 with the teams splitting the last four matchups, after Akron won seven straight from 2005-2009.
Eastern Michigan lost a tough decision to Miami-Ohio dropping the decision 62-57 in overtime on Wednesday. The loss was the second in two games for the Eagles who won three straight and four of five to begin January. Eastern Michigan still remains atop the MAC West Division with a record of 5-3 in conference play.
Akron has risen to the top of not just the MAC East Division but the conference overall with a 7-1 mark in league play. The Zips have won eight of nine since the new year including four straight victories. The Zips will be on the road against Western Michigan in their next matchup.
Eastern Michigan held a 45-34 lead late in the second half against Miami-Ohio but had the lead evaporated as the RedHawks ended the game on a 12-1 run and would then go on a 10-2 run to begin overtime and finish off the Eagles.
The struggles scoring the ball down the stretch have plagued Eastern Michigan which has risen to the top of the standings despite scoring a conference worst 52.9 points per game. Not only is it a conference worst the Eagles points per game efforts are better than only two Division I programs in the country this season. Eastern Michigan is also near the bottom of the conference in assists (9.5) and rebounds (31.6). Senior guard Darrell Lampley is the only player scoring in double digits on the season for the Eagles. Lampley had 17 points in the loss to Miami-Ohio to bring his season average to 13.5 points per game. Lampley has now scored in double figures in three straight games after failing to do so in three straight previously. After Lampley the key contributors are senior guard Antonio Green (6.7 ppg) and junior forward Jamell Harris (5.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg).
Akron had its best offensive output since the start of 2012 when it posted an 86-72 win over Toledo on Wednesday. The Zips had five players in double figures, shot a scorching 60.0 percent from the floor and outscored the Rockets 24-6 from the three-point line in the win.
Although the 86 point were a high mark for Akron recently, the Zips have not had trouble scoring all season. Akron puts in 73.4 points per game which is second in the conference and is the most efficient offense shooting 47.0 percent from the floor which leads the MAC. The high powered offense for Akron is based on balance with five players scoring at least eight points per game and no scorer over 11 per contest. Junior center Zeke Marshall (10.5 ppg, 5,4 rpg) narrowly holds the edge in scoring over senior forward Nikola Cvetinovic (10.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg) who leads the team in rebounding. Marshall also does a great job in protecting the rim by swatting a conference best 3.1 shots per game. Junior forward Quincy Diggs (9.7 ppg) further enhances the frontcourt although he primarily plays on the wings rather than in the paint. Sophomore guards Alex Abreu (8.3 ppg, 4.5 apg) and Brian Walsh (8.1 ppg) anchor the backcourt.
Although this is a battle of the top teams in each division, it won't play out like one. Akron is clearly the stronger team in this matchup and should have no trouble handling Eastern Michigan.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Akron 83, Eastern Michigan 65
02/04 10:42:41 ET
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