Eastern Michigan (7-5) at Kentucky (8-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 2, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rupp Arena (23,000) -- Lexington, Kentucky. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: EMU 7-1, Kentucky 7-1. Away Record: EMU 0-4, Kentucky 0-2. Neutral Record: EMU 0-0, Kentucky 1-1. Conference Record: EMU 0-0, Kentucky 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Eastern Michigan Eagles have yet another tough non-conference test in store as they visit Rupp Arena to challenge the Kentucky Wildcats on Wednesday.
The Eagles ended a three-game losing slide that consisted of setbacks to Illinois-Chicago (74-48), Michigan (93-54), and Oakland (59-57) with an 87-49 rout of Siena Heights of the NAIA. Coach Rob Murphy's team put forth a balanced effort, as it hit 55 percent of its field goal attempts and four different players scored in double figures. The high-scoring output could boost the confidence of Eastern Michigan, which is still averaging only 59.4 ppg on 40 percent shooting from the field. EMU is a very tough unit defensively with an allowed average of just 59.9 with a .383 field goal percentage.
Kentucky nearly overcame a 17-point deficit, but could not finish off the job and dropped an 80-77 decision to No. 4 Louisville on Saturday to fall to 8-4 on the year. Louisville had 16 more points in the paint (44-28) and 18 more fastbreak points (20-2) in the rivalry game. John Calipari's young squad collected four consecutive victories before losing to the Cardinals. The defending national champs are once again a very talented group despite their lack of experience as they are scoring 78.3 ppg and pulling down 38.8 rpg to their opponents' 62.7 ppg and 34.7 rpg.
This will be the first meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood.
Senior guard Derek Thompson led the way with 17 points in 15 minutes for the Eagles against Siena Heights, while Daylen Harrison and Glenn Bryant scored 15 and 13 points, respectively. Da'Shonte Riley added 10 points and five blocks in 18 minutes of action. Thompson is the team's leading scorer with 12.7 ppg after tallying 28 total points over his last two outings. Harrison (10.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Bryant (10.3 ppg) are both carrying double-digit scorings averages for EMU as well.
Kentucky was led by Archie Goodwin in its loss to Louisville last time out. The freshman shooting guard poured in 22 points, but also committed five of the team's 15 turnovers. Ryan Harrow added 17 points and Kyle Wiltjer chimed in with 14 points off the bench. Willie Cauley-Stein and Nerlens Noel showed they can be a difficult duo inside as they combined to grab 16 rebounds and block five shots. The freshmen big men are strong and athletic, which is making UK very difficult to score on inside when they are both on the floor.
Although Eastern Michigan upset Purdue by three points earlier this season, it is still winless in four road games. A visit to Rupp Arena rarely ends happily for the Wildcats' opposition. Kentucky may not be ready to take down top five foes on the road, but it is capable of completing a rout of EMU.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kentucky 75, Eastern Michigan 56
01/02 10:33:10 ET