Thursday, December 2, 2021

Preview: MSU men's hoops hosts Eastern Michigan

November 20, 2021

After notching their first road win of the season, Michigan State men’s basketball is set to take on Eastern Michigan at home.

The Spartans are 32-3 all-time against Eastern Michigan with their most recent matchup on Nov. 25, 2020 resulting in a 83-67 victory.

Michigan State (2-1) came out hot and never relinquished their lead against Butler on Wednesday in a 72-51 win. Senior forward Gabe Brown led all scorers with 19 points while freshman guard Max Christie and senior center Marcus Bingham Jr. showed out on both ends of the floor, combining for 28 points and 7 blocks.

Despite 20 turnovers and some scoring droughts in the first half, the Spartans turned in their strongest performance of the season in a tough road environment. Head Coach Tom Izzo lamented the issues at hand but expressed optimism towards his team’s future growth.

“We got a long way to go,” Izzo said following Wednesday’s game. “But I think we’re going to get better and our goal is to get better every day right now.”

Eastern Michigan (1-2) is coached by former Michigan State assistant Stan Heath, a member of a Spartan staff that won one national title and four Big Ten championships in his tenure from 1996 to 2001. In his first three games at the helm, Heath led the Eagles to two narrow road losses to Indiana and Northern Kentucky with one high scoring double overtime home win over Illinois State.

The Eagles’ strength lies in their deep and talented backcourt, headlined by Portland State transfer and senior guard Monty Scott (18.7 points per game) with further production from junior guard Bryce McBride (15.3 points per game) and freshman guard Noah Farrakhan (18.7 points per game). A guard-heavy team, Eastern Michigan hasn’t exactly been an impressive shooting team this year (41.5% from the field as a team) yet the aforementioned trio pose the strongest shooting threats out of anybody on the roster.

At 7 feet, senior center Axel Okongo (3.3 points per game) is the man in the middle for Eastern Michigan. Okongo isn’t much of an offensive player but will provide Bingham with his first comparable matchup in terms of size. Redshirt freshman Yusuf Jihad and freshman Mo Njie will also see some time at the position.

From there, Northern Illinois transfer and senior forward Nate Scott and Siena transfer and freshman Colin Golson Jr. comprise the rest of the frontcourt. Scott’s versatility goes a long way with this team and Golson might have the highest ceiling of any player for Eastern Michigan.

Tipoff is set for Saturday at 5 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on BTN+.

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