YPSILANTI, Mich. —- Getting so close to the end of semester which only means one thing to the students at Eastern Michigan University – final exam and the end of the fall term.
Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Rob Murphy and his team took the court for a huge test, Saturday afternoon, December 8, 2012, in front of a loud crowd of 1,790 at the friendliest basketball arena in the Mid-American Conference-the Convocation Center.
When the final horn sounded and the test was over and the result were tallied. The biggest win in Murphy’s career and for the Eastern Michigan University Eagles in a long time. The Eagles defeated the Boilermakers 47-44, that might just put the Eagles on the NCAA radar.
Purdue University walked into the Convocation Center and brought all of it’s tradition and of the Big Ten Conference. The Boilermakers made the bus ride from the fertile farm fields of western Indiana to the shore line of the Huron River and the city of Ypsilanti for the first time in their glorious history.
“Extremely, extremely big win for our program coming off of the Syracuse game losing by 36 points and committing 24 turnovers and I knew we would have our challenges,” Murphy said. “We needed to focus on handling the ball, taking care of the ball and making good decisions we you have young point guards you struggle so I gave the start to Austin Harper.”
Last season, the Eagles visited the grand hall that is located inside the state of Indiana that showcase the finest of Boilermaker basketball-Mackey Arena. Purdue University defeated the Eagles 61-36, in West Lafayette, Indiana but that was last season. Murphy and his team felt the cold wintry wind that night as the offense for the Eagles went into a deep freeze.
The beginning of the game looked a lot like the cold night at Mackey Arena had return for the Eagles but the lesson from the 84-48, defeat at the Carrier Dome against the No.4 Syracuse University learned well by the Eagles.
The Eagles stuck with the defensive game plan, added a little press for consistency, collapsed around the defensive goal but most important for Murphy’s team they protected the ball.
Purdue University out rebounded EMU 51-33 but turned over the ball 18 times that led to 12 points for the Eagles.
“Tonight it was all about the defense,” Murphy said. “We did not have a double figure scorer but everybody all 10 guys that played were committed to the defensive side of the ball.
Eastern Michigan University senior guard Derek Thompson led the Eagles with eight points and forward Daylen Harrison led both teams with 11 rebounds.
Purdue University basketball coach Matt Painter said after the game, he has been around a long time and tonight’s game is the first time that a team won without a double figure scorer.
“We did some really good things against their zone but we struggle with pas care of the s and catch. I know that seems elementary,” Painter said about his team’s performance against the Eagles zone defense. “If we can simply pass and catch the basketball around the rim in the last 10 minutes of the game we would have had four or five more baskets.”
In the first half the Eagle defense kept Murphy and his team close to the Boilermakers, Purdue only shot 25 percent from the floor in the opening half and finished the game shooting 29.8 percent.
“We went from the best in the country at taking care of the basketball to a team that really struggles to do basic things in terms of passing and catching,” Painter said. “Were it comes down too, it comes down to you would think that it would come down to something really detail in terms of executing but for us just slowing down and jump stopping and making fundamental plays we struggle.”
Eastern Michigan University passed the test against Purdue University by studying hard after the defeat at Syracuse University.
“Our main focus is to take care of the basketball, continue to focus on the defensive side of things and rebounding the ball,” Murphy said. “When we left there, I knew half of those turnovers that were careless turnovers. Syracuse pressed us but they were unforced errors just us panicking, being in the Carrier Dome, first big road game against a high level team Not to discredit Syracuse, they are a great team but that was some of it, I knew we were not as bad as we were Monday but we still need to improve.”
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.