Spartans set sights on soaring Eagles

Dec 17, 2014 - 3:25 PM East Lansing, MI ( - After upsetting in-state rival Michigan over a week ago, the Eastern Michigan Eagles will try their luck against the Michigan State Spartans in a non-conference bout at Breslin Student Events Center.

Eastern Michigan sports an 8-1 record on the season, with a lone loss coming against Dayton on the road, 73-64, just prior to the team's win over Michigan, 45-42.

Michigan State just moved back up into the Top-25 after an 87-61 win over Oakland. The Spartans have won back-to-back contests immediately following a two-game skid, and will look to take the high-flying Eagles down a peg here.

The all-time series between Eastern Michigan and Michigan State isn't even close. The two squads have met 32 times, while the Spartans hold a 28-3 lead over the Eagles. In East Lansing, Michigan State has been even more dominant, owning an 18-1 advantage.

After Michigan took a 21-19 halftime lead against Eastern Michigan, the Eagles made a second-half comeback to grab a 45-42 lead with time winding down in regulation back on Dec. 9. A 3-point attempt for the Wolverines at the buzzer didn't fall, allowing the Eagles to hold on for their eighth victory of the early season. Jordan Price was the only EMU player to register a double-digit point total in the contest, scoring 11 on 4-of-9 shooting. Karrington Ward brought down seven rebounds to help the cause.

Raven Lee enters this game as the Eagles' leading scorer, netting 15.0 ppg on 50 percent shooting from the field. He's the primary scorer on a team averaging 70.3 ppg this season. Ward chips in with 12.9 ppg, and Mike Talley contributes 10.1 ppg with a team-high 38 assists. Eastern Michigan made it a point to add size in the offseason, which clearly helped considering the Eagles grab 41.8 rpg through nine contests.

Oakland proved to be no match for Michigan State as the Spartans used a 55.7 percent shooting touch to run to a double-digit first-half lead. Five players scored in double figures for the Spartans, who were paced by Denzel Valentine's 19 points. Branden Dawson scored 15 with six assists, Marvin Clark Jr. and Bryn Forbes each added 12, and Matt Costello chipped in with 11 points in the lopsided win.

Valentine paces the Spartans this season in scoring, averaging 15.0 ppg. The team as a whole is netting 76.3 ppg on 50.4 percent shooting. Travis Trice contributes 14.3 ppg, Dawson adds 11.6 ppg and Forbes, the transfer from Cleveland State, is scoring at a 10.5 ppg clip in his first year in East Lansing. Dawson's team-leading rebound average checks in at 8.7 rpg, while Trice's 57 assists is another team high. Opponents are scoring just 61.0 ppg on the Spartans this season.

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