Cleveland State (2-1) at Eastern Michigan (3-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 18, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Convocation Center (9,500) -- Ypsilanti, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: CSU 1-0, EMU 3-0. Away Record: CSU 1-1, EMU 0-0. Neutral Record: CSU 0-0, EMU 0-0. Conference Record: CSU 0-0, EMU 0-0. Series Record: Eastern Michigan leads, 22-9.
GAME NOTES: The Eastern Michigan Eagles will try to stay perfect as they host the Cleveland State Vikings at the Convocation Center in a non-conference tilt.
The Vikings will be concluding a three-game road trip in Ypsilanti that began after a hard-fought win over Iona in their season opener. Coach Gary Waters could not guide the team past Rex Walters's San Francisco Dons in its first road appearance, but it bounced back on Friday with an 83-73 decision over Texas-Arlington. Cleveland State had an excellent shooting performance from the perimeter to down Mavericks and improve to 2-1, as it finished 11- of-24 from beyond the arc.
Coach Rob Murphy implemented a defensive mentality at Eastern Michigan last season and while his squad limited its opposition to only 59.1 points per game to lead the Mid-American Conference in scoring defense, it still finished two games below the .500 mark. The Eagles were very tough to beat on their home floor last season and they have continued that success this season with three consecutive victories over Albion College (77-45), Concordia (95-50) and Robert Morris (69-64). EMU overcame an 11-point first half deficit to defeat the Colonials.
This will be the 32nd meeting in history between the Vikings and Eagles. EMU holds a 22-9 all-time series lead, but this will be the first encounter since the 2004-05 campaign.
Bryn Forbes is off to a hot start in his second year with Cleveland State. The 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, who was the 2012-13 Horizon League Newcomer of the Year, is pacing the Vikings with 19.3 points per game. Forbes tied his career- high versus UTA with 24 points thanks to a perfect 8-of-8 showing at the free- throw line. Junior point guard Charlie Lee also tied his personal best in Texas with 22 points. Lee is netting 14 points and 2.8 assists per contest. With the stellar backcourt leading the way, the Vikings are posting 79.3 ppg while allowing 77.7 ppg. Cleveland State is connecting on 40.6 percent of its 3-point attempts as a team.
EMU has been excellent on the offensive end due to a handful of newcomers. The Eagles are still unbeaten thanks to the strong play of freshman guard Ray Lee, who set a career-high with 21 points, while junior college transfer Karrington Ward registered a double-double with 18 points and 12 boards last time out. Ward, a two-time NJCAA All-American, is scoring 17.3 points and grabbing 7.7 rebounds in just under 24 minutes per game. Lee is second on the unit with 15.3 ppg, while Duquesne transfer Mike Talley has been solid at point guard with averages of 9.7 ppg and four apg. Although it is still early in the campaign, Murphy has to be thrilled after his team's decision over RMU, which knocked Kentucky out of the NIT in 2013.
The Vikings are more experienced and have better chemistry at this point, but very few opponents have a pleasant trip to the Convocation Center. If Ward can continue to dominate against Division I foes, the Eagles have a legitimate shot at winning their conference. These teams have very contrasting styles as CSU will try to run and gun and EMU tends to grind it out with long possessions.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Michigan 70, Cleveland State 68
11/18 10:32:17 ET