Missouri State (8-20) at Eastern Michigan (12-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 12 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (8,754) -- Ypsilanti, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: MSU 7-7, EMU 11-3. Away Record: MSU 1-11, EMU 1-11. Neutral Record: MSU 0-2, EMU 0-0. Conference Record: MSU 6-10, EMU 5-7. Series Record: Missouri State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: A couple of fading teams will meet up on Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti in hopes of turning things around, as the Eastern Michigan Eagles host the Missouri State Bears in a BracketBuster matchup.
Missouri State has dropped four of its last five contests, including Tuesday's 69-63 home loss to Northern Iowa. This will be the first of two straight road games for the Bears, who are just 1-13 outside of Springfield, Missouri this season. They'll visit Illinois State on Wednesday and then wrap up the regular season at home against Bradley next weekend.
Eastern Michigan has lost three of its last four outings, and that includes Wednesday's 73-50 rout at the hands of Ohio University. All three losses in that stretch came on the road, as the Eagles are just 1-11 as the visiting team on the season. They have fared much better at home, with 11 wins in 14 tries.
MSU won the only previous meeting between these two schools, notching a 75-61 victory over EMU on Nov. 22, 2009 in the finals of the Hispanic College Fund Classic.
Missouri State became the sixth straight team to fall to Northern Iowa earlier this week. Freshman Marcus Marshall did all he could, recording a game- and career-high 25 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the floor and 9-of-9 from the foul line. Christian Kirk added 12 points and six rebounds in the loss, marking his fifth double-figure scoring effort in the last seven games. The Bears trimmed a double-digit deficit down to three with 33 seconds remaining, but UNI put the game away with free throws down the stretch. On the season, Anthony Downing leads the team with 13.6 points per game, followed by Marshall with 10.9 ppg. Marshall is the freshman scoring leader in the Missouri Valley Conference, while fellow rookie Gavin Thurman (7.6 ppg) ranks fourth. The duo is 16 points away from becoming the team's top freshman scoring tandem of all- time. Kirk (8.6 ppg), a sophomore, is averaging 10.1 points over the last seven games.
High-scoring shootouts have been very few and far between for the Eagles, who are averaging only 57.1 points and are shooting just 39.5 percent from the floor as a team. Defensively, they have held foes to 60.2 points and 39.7- percent shooting. Glenn Bryant leads the way with 10.5 ppg, followed by Derek Thompson with 10.2 ppg. Thompson has attempted more than 60 percent of his shots this season from beyond the arc, and he is shooting just 34 percent overall. In Wednesday's lopsided loss at Ohio, the Eagles were a mere 27.6 percent accurate from the floor, marking their lowest output since the start of Mid-American Conference play. They managed only 16 first-half points and trailed by 20 at the break. J.R. Sims had a team-high 12 points to go along with three steals, although he connected on only 4-of-12 field goal attempts.
Expect a stronger effort here from the Eagles, who have played like a completely different team at home. Still, the Bears won't just give this one away as they have committed 10 or fewer turnovers in nine straight games.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Michigan 61, Missouri State 56
02/23 10:40:40 ET