YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) – The Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team returns to the road this week, starting with a Tuesday, Jan. 24, tilt against the University of Toledo inside Savage Arena in Toledo, Ohio. The Eagles (4-15, 1-5 MAC) and Rockets (13-6, 4-2 MAC) are slated for a 7 p.m. tip.
The game will be aired live to a national television audience on CBS Sports Network with Alex Del Barrio and Tim Doyle on the call. Tom Helmer, the Voice of the Eagles, will have the radio call on WEMU (89.1 FM) and the Varsity Network app.
» Noah Farrakhan came off the bench to net a career-high 26 points against Northern Illinois, Jan. 21, to bring his career total to 675 points, tying him with Calvin Warner (1998-00) for No. 75 all-time at EMU.
» With his scoring performance, Farrakhan picked up his third game with 20+ points scored this year and, along with Emoni Bates’ eight recorded in 2022-23, gave EMU its first set of teammates with three-or-more 20-point games in the same season since the 2020-21 season when three players accomplished the feat, including Ty Groce, Bryce McBride, and Yeikson Montero.
» Emoni Bates continues to be one of the top scorers in the nation as he is averaging 19.3 points per contest, tying for the most in the nation by a sophomore, second in the MAC, and 31st in the NCAA.
» Farrakhan also tallied one assist against the Huskies, Jan. 21, to give him at least one helper in all 19 games this year, 31 in a row dating back to last year, and in 41-of-44 games played for the Eagles.
» The team also continued a streak of its own as it connected on five three-pointers, giving the Eagles at least one made triple in 570 consecutive games.
» As a team, the Eagles remain among the best in the league in free throw shooting as they are hitting at a 74.3 percent clip, ranking fourth in the MAC and second (so far) in program history.
» The game with NIU, Jan. 21, saw 4,719 fans in attendance, the largest home crowd of the season for the Eagles. The total also stands as the second-largest to see a MAC game and the fourth-largest overall since the George Gervin GameAbove Center opened (1998-99).
SCOUTING TOLEDO: The Rockets, winners of three in a row, enter Tuesday’s tilt with a 13-6 overall record and stand tied for third in the MAC standings with a 4-2 league record. Keepers of a 7-1 home record with their lone loss coming in their MAC home opener to Ball State, 90-83, Jan. 3, the Rockets have four players averaging double-digit point totals, including RayJ Dennis (18.5), JT Shumate (18.1), Setric Millner Jr. (14.6) and Dante Maddox Jr. (10.7). Dennis (third) and Shumate (fifth) are the only teammates in the league ranking in the top-5 in scoring in the league, and one of just two pairs to rank in the top-10. Millner Jr., leads the team with 4.8 rebounds per contest while Dennis’ 6.0 assists per game leads the team.
The Rockets are the top-scoring team in the MAC, averaging 84.9 points per game this year and standing as the only team averaging more than 80.0 points per game this year. Defensively, however, Toledo is 11th in scoring defense, giving up an average of 78.5 points per game, just ahead of EMU’s 81.6 average.
IN THE SERIES WITH TOLEDO:
» The Eagles trail, 52-60, in their all-time series with the Rockets and have fallen in four consecutive games.
» The Rockets won the last meeting, 86-66, Feb. 1, 2022, in Ypsilanti.
» Toledo has won the last four meetings when hosting the game, including a 96-63 decision, Jan. 12, 2021, in the last meeting.
» The last time the Eagles defeated the Rockets was Feb. 1, 2020, a 61-57 home victory.
QUICK REVIEW • NORTHERN ILLINOIS: Noah Farrakhan and Tyson Acuff combined to score 44 points as the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team fell to the Northern Illinois University Huskies, 88-67, inside the George Gervin GameAbove Center, Jan. 21.
The Eagles (4-15, 1-5 MAC) had two players score in double figures, led by Farrakhan, who recorded 26 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Acuff added 18 points and two steals while Derek Ballard Jr. added four points, his first of the season.
Eastern Michigan grabbed 30 rebounds in the game compared to Northern Illinois’ 28, led by Farrakhan’s eight boards. The Eagles also put in work on the offensive glass, turning 11 rebounds into eight second chance points. It marked the second contest in a row in which Eastern recorded more rebounds than its opponent.
The Green and White forced 13 Northern Illinois turnovers and turned those takeaways into 13 points on the other end of the floor. Farrakhan’s three steals led the way for Eastern Michigan.
Eastern Michigan struggled out of the gate, falling behind 50-31 heading into halftime. Northern Illinois kept widening its lead after intermission, constructing a 67-45 advantage before the Eagles went on a 5-0 run, finished off by Farrakhan’s three, to shrink the deficit to 67-50 with 9:10 to go in the contest. The Huskies responded and outscored EMU the rest of the way, ending the game with a final score of 88-67. Eastern Michigan got a boost from its bench in the period, as non-starters accounted for 24 of its 36 total points in the second half.
QUICK NOTES • NORTHERN ILLINOIS GAME:
» Noah Farrakhan tallied a season-high 26 points against NIU, Jan. 21, on 10-of-15 shooting, including 2-of-3 from three, while also leading the team with a career-high eight rebounds and team-best three steals. With his point total, Farrakhan scored 20+ points for the third time this year and the first time since he scored 21 at Niagara, Dec. 11. His previous season best was 25 points at Florida International, Dec. 4. He now has 13 career games with 20-or-more points scored.
» Farrakhan finished the game with a game-high 26 points against Northern Illinois, Jan. 21. With those points, Farrakhan moved into a tie for No. 75 on the program’s all-time scoring list with Calvin Warner (1998-00), who scored 675 points for the Eagles in his career. Farrakhan, who moved past both Steve Pettyjohn (2001-02), 656 points, and Marcus Kennedy (1990-91), 659 points, on the list, will need six more points to tie Jessie Evans (1982-84) for No. 74 on the charts with 681 points.
» With his one assist, Farrakhan extended his streak to record at least one assist in all 19 games he has played this year and, dating back to last season, has recorded one in 31 games in a row. For his career, he has assisted on at least one basket in 41-of-44 games played for the Eagles and 48-of-56 games in his career, including games with East Carolina.
» Along with his scoring, Farrakhan led the team with eight rebounds and three steals, both of which are season highs. The eight rebounds surpassed the six he pulled down three times this year, the most recent coming Nov. 27 at home against UC San Diego, while the three thefts surpass the two he recorded twice, most recently at Akron, Jan. 13. For his career, the rebounds tie for the most he has posted in one game (home vs. FIU, Dec. 11, 2021) and his steal total is one shy of his career best.
» Tyson Acuff also reached double-digits on the night as he finished the game with 18 points, including a team-best 7-of-9 from the free throw line, while adding a team-high-tying three assists (with Luka Savicevic) and two steals. For his career, Acuff has scored 10+ points in a game 19 times, including 11 times this year, while recording three-or-more steals for the fourth time this season.
» Derek Ballard Jr. played 12 minutes and scored his first four points of the season, including draining his lone shot of the game, a three-pointer from the corner. Not only did he score his first points of the season, he more than doubled his playing time of the previous games he appeared (eight minutes total) and added three rebounds, one steal, and one block. His steal is the first he tallied since Jan. 15, 2022, at Northern Illinois, while his block is his first since Jan. 26, 2021, at Akron.
» Emoni Bates drained a deep shot with 2:43 remaining in the opening half to help the Eagles extend their consecutive games streak to 570 in a row with at least one made triple. The last time Eastern failed to hit a three-point basket in a game came Jan. 24, 2004, when the Eagles were 0-of-7 at Miami.
» The Eagles’ bench combined to score 36 points, the second-best total accumulated this season. The most it has scored in a game this year was 38 at Akron, Jan. 13.
» EMU Hall of Fame head coach Ben Braun made his return to campus, serving as an analyst for the ESPN3 broadcast. The winningest head coach in program history, Braun was a three-time MAC Coach of the Year and guided the Eagles to three MAC regular season and three MAC tournament titles during his tenure. Braun, who led the Eagles to the 1991 NCAA Sweet 16 and two more NCAA appearances, was recognized by the crowd during the 12-minute timeout in the first half..
CLIMBING HIGHER: Noah Farrakhan continued his climb up the program’s all-time scoring ledger as his season-high 26 points against Northern Illinois, Jan. 21, moved him into a tie for No. 75 with Calvin Warner (1998-00) with 675 points. Farrakhan, who tallied his third, 20-point game of the season and the 13th of his career, needs just six points to move up another rung on the ladder where Jessie Evans (1982-84) holds the No. 74 spot with 681 points. If Farrakhan were to maintain his current scoring average the rest of the regular season, he would reach the top-50 while surpassing 800 points.
NOT ALL SCORING: While Noah Farrakhan continues his climb up the program’s all-time scoring ledger, he also continues to assist teammates on their scoring. Through 19 games played this year, Farrakhan has tallied at least one helper in all 19 contests and has dropped at least one dime in 3` consecutive games dating back to last season. In fact, in his two seasons with the Eagles, Farrakhan has recorded at least one assist in 41-of-44 games played (93.2 percent) for Eastern and, when including his one season with East Carolina (2020-21), he has done so in 48-of-56 career games (85.7 percent).
TEAM TWENTY: With his 26 points against Northern Illinois, Jan. 21, Noah Farrakhan tallied his third game of 20-or-more points this season and the 13th of his career. Combined with Emoni Bates’ eight recorded this season, the duo is the first pair of EMU teammates to each record three-or-more 20-point games in a season since the 2020-21 season when three players accomplished the feat, including Ty Groce (four), Bryce McBride (three), and Yeikson Montero (three).
TEN OR MORE: In all but three games so far this season, Emoni Bates has scored in double figures as the sophomore is making his case for one of the top scorers in the MAC and the NCAA. With his 24 points at home against Kent State, Jan. 17, Bates reached double-figure points for the 15th time in the 18 games he has played while scoring at least 15 points for the 14th time. Additionally, he reached the 20-point mark for the eighth time this year and the third time in five games.
20 AND OVER: With eight games of 20-or-more points this season, Emoni Bates ranks 13th for such games in a season for Eastern, dating back to the 1998-99 season. Should he reach 10 games with 20+ points scored, he would not only move into a tie for the seventh-most such games in a season with current teammate Noah Farrakhan (10 in 2021-22), but would give the Eagles back-to-back seasons with a pair of teammates reaching 10, 20-point games. The last time this happened came with Raven Lee and Elijah Minnie each tallied 13, 20-point games in 2016-17 and 2017-18, respectively.
MORE THAN AVERAGE: Emoni Bates is currently averaging 19.3 points per game, which ranks him second in the MAC and 31st nationally. He also is the highest scoring sophomore in the nation. If Bates is able to finish the year at or above 20.0, he would be the first Eastern player to average more than 20 points per contest for the season since the 2005-06 campaign when both John Bowler and Carlos Medlock accomplished the feat. If he is able to finish at 21.0 points per game or better this year, he would be the first Eagle to do so since Earl Boykins averaged 25.7 in 1997-98.
GOOD TO SEE YOU!: The 4,719 fans in attendance for the Eagles’ game with Northern Illinois, Jan. 21, ranked as the largest crowd to see Eastern Michigan play at home this season, surpassing the 4,677 fans on hand for the season-opening game with Wayne State, Nov. 7. In the history of the George Gervin GameAbove Center (since 1998-99), the 4,719 fans on hand rank as the second-most to see a MAC game (5,423 vs. Central Michigan, Feb. 12, 2005) and the fourth-most ever.
For a season, the Eagles have welcomed over 4,000 fans twice this year, marking only the second time this has happened in the history of the George Gervin GameAbove Center (1998-present). The only other time it has happened came in the 2002-03 season when three games saw 4,000 or more fans on hand for games with Central Michigan (4,346), Western Michigan (4,115) and Toledo (4,055).
FROM THE STRIPE: Eastern Michigan has found great success from the free throw line this year with the Eagles converting 74.3 percent, which ranks fourth in the MAC. Through 19 games played (Jan. 21), the Eagles have made their way to the stripe 20+ times in 10 games, including in five of the last six games, in which Eastern is converting at 75.6 percent.
In three of the 10 games EMU has shot more than 20 free throws, it has converted over 85.0 percent of their chances in three of those games and nearly added a fourth after shooting 22-of-26 (84.6 percent) at Akron, Jan. 13. One game prior, at Western Michigan, Jan. 10, Eastern opened the game 14-of-14 from the line before finishing the game 19-of-21 for a 90.5 shooting percentage, the highest the team has posted since shooting 10-of-11 at Ohio, Feb. 3, 2022, a 90.9 conversion rate.
MOVING UP: The Eagles are currently hitting at a 74.3 percent clip from the free throw line this season. As it stands, the current Eagles have the second-best shooting percentage from the line in program history behind the 2020-21 team’s 74.5 percent shooting following its 18 game, COVID-shortened season. When looking at teams that played full seasons, the 2007-08 squad leads the way at 72.9 percent following its 31-game slate.
CHARITY CHARTS: On an individual basis, Eastern players rank highly in league standings in regards to free-throw shooting with Tyson Acuff (81.4), Legend Geeter (78.3), Emoni Bates (76.0), and Noah Farrakhan (72.4) all ranking in the top 20. Their percentages in conference-only statistics all have them in the top 20 of the MAC as well with Geeter sitting 12th (85.7), Farrakhan 14th (82.1), Bates 17th (80.5), and Acuff 19th (78.3).
Overall, Eastern is the only school to have four players ranked in the top 25 for free throw shooting in conference games with Ball State, Ohio, and Western Michigan each having three representatives on the same chart.
DOING IT ALL: Tyson Acuff did it all against Detroit Mercy, Dec. 18, as the sophomore not only tied for the team lead with 19 points, he also dished a team-best six assists, led the way with five steals, and turned the ball over just twice. Acuff also jump started the defense with his five thefts, the most for an Eagle in a single game since Yeikson Montero took the ball away five times against Bowling Green, Feb. 23, 2021.
Through the Jan. 21, game against Northern Illinois, where he scored 18 points and added a team-high three assists, Acuff appears in several league rankings, including 21st in scoring (12.8), seventh in free throw percentage (81.4), 16th in assists per game (2.8), and seventh in steals per game (1.5). In six conference games, he ranks third in steals with 2.3 per game.
WAY DOWNTOWN: Eastern connected on four three-point attempts in its game against Kent State, Jan. 17, to extend the program’s streak to 570 games in a row with at least one triple drained. Emoni Bates extended the streak for EMU with his lone triple of the game, which came with 2:43 remaining in the first half of play. The last time the Eagles failed to hit from downtown came Jan. 24, 2004, when Miami held Eastern to 0-of-7 from three.
HOME COOKING: According to the latest update from College Basketball Reference, Jan. 18, the Eagles currently rank fourth nationally in regards to points scored per game by in-state players with Eastern averaging 53.1 points per game from its Michigan-born players. Northern Iowa (68.3), Youngstown State (58.2), and Georgia State (54.3) rank just ahead of the Eagles. Additional research through 19 games played shows that those same in-state players have accounted for 74.0 percent of the team’s scoring with Michigan-born Eagles having collected 1,009 of the team’s 1,364 points.
UP NEXT: Eastern remains on the road for its next game as the Eagles travel to Oxford, Ohio, to meet the Miami University RedHawks inside Millett Hall Saturday, Jan. 28. The game, which is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. tip, will be televised live on ESPN+ and on WEMU (89.1 FM) and the Varsity Network app.