Akron (19-4) at Eastern Michigan (11-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 13, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (8,784) -- Ypsilanti, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: Akron 12-0, EMU 11-2. Away Record: Akron 5-3, EMU 0-10. Neutral Record: Akron 2-1, EMU 0-0. Conference Record: Akron 10-0, EMU 4-5. Series Record: Akron leads, 20-19.
GAME NOTES: The Akron Zips put their perfect league record on the line as they venture to the Convocation Center for a Mid-American Conference matchup against the stingy Eastern Michigan Eagles.
Akron is currently riding a 15-game winning streak, which is the longest in the nation. The victories have not all come easy, as the Zips needed a big second half comeback to arrive at a 54-50 decision at Miami-Ohio on Saturday. Coach Keith Dambrot's team is 10-0 in MAC play for the first time in school history since joining the conference prior to the 1992-93 campaign. The team's strong effort is beginning to yield votes in both top 25 polls. During the current winning streak, Akron is outscoring its opposition by 14.5 ppg while holding a +9.6 edge in rebounding.
The Zips' success starts in the middle with superstar center Zeke Marshall. The 7-foot senior center has become a legitimate NBA prospect while producing 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per tilt as Akron's anchor inside. Marshall is the MAC's all-time and NCAA's active leader in career blocked shots with 327. He is surrounded by a very efficient supporting cast that features Demetrius Treadwell, Alex Abreu, and Nick Harney. Treadwell is a solid post player as well with averages of 11.0 points and 7.5 boards per tilt while Abreu's point guard play is netting 9.9 points and 6.0 assists per contest. Abreu went 1- of-8 for five points in the close win over Miami after making 12-of-19 from the floor to produce 18 points and 9.0 assists per game over his previous two outings. Harney adds 9.3 ppg to the fold.
The Eagles are 11-12 on the campaign after suffering a 60-52 setback at Toledo on Saturday. For the game, EMU went 20-of-59 from the floor (.339) and 4-of-17 from beyond the arc (.235), while the Rockets were limited to make just 34.6 percent of their field goal tries and finish with 11 turnovers to 13 assists. The stifling defensive performance was not enough to help Rob Murphy's Eagles drop to 4-5 in the league standings, which pits them in third place in the West Division.
Although EMU is leading the MAC and has one of the lowest allowed scoring averages in the nation at 59.6 ppg, it has failed to rack up victories due to its troubles on the offensive end, where it posts just 57.3 ppg. Coach Murphy's team has lost all 10 of its true road tests, but it has been strong at home with 11 wins to two losses, including a 47-44 decision of Purdue. Senior guard Derek Thompson is leading the way offensively for EMU, tallying 10.7 points per game. Pacing the Eagles in rebounding is junior center Da'Shonte Riley, who is posting 6.3 boards and 2.3 blocks per game.
In the loss to Toledo, Daylen Harrison registered a double-double with a career-high 19 points and 10 boards for EMU, which also received 13 rebounds and four blocks from Da'Shonte Riley. The backups played a huge role as Toledo's reserves outscored the Eagles' bench, 29-11. EMU outrebounded Toledo 43-36 while also converting 19 second-chance points. However, 19 EMU turnovers turned into 19 points for the Rockets.
Much like a football team that relies on its defense to keep itself in games, EMU cannot afford to frequently commit turnovers to pursue its ideal style of play. The Eagles will be tough to beat if they limit miscues, but Akron is going to be difficult to upset regardless. The combination of Treadwell and Marshall inside will give the Zips an edge over any of their MAC foes in addition to the schools they face going forward once in the postseason.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Akron 66, Eastern Michigan 53
02/13 10:32:06 ET