Today, #9 Duke faces off against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils come in at 9-2 while the Eagles come into the matchup at 7-3. Eastern Michigan started off the season very hot, winning 5 in a row right out of the gate. After that, they hit a tough road, having to face Kentucky, who was ranked #3 at the time, at Rupp Arena. Then they faced #21 UMass and a very good Purdue team. This put the Eagles on a 3 game losing streak, but they were able to bounce back with wins over Green Bay and Oakland in overtime. That leaves us at today, so here is a breakdown of the starting lineup for Eastern Michigan.

     In their last game against Oakland, the starting lineup looked as follows: junior Mike Talley (5-11, guard), freshman Ray Lee (6-3, 170lb guard), senior Glenn Bryant (6-8, 210lb, forward), junior Karrington Ward (6-7, 186lb forward), and senior Da’Shonte Riley (7-0, 240lb center). The leaders on this team in scoring are Karrington Ward, averaging 15.4 PPG, and Ray Lee with 12.8 PPG. Ward is also the leader in rebounds with 6.2 per contest, with Da’Shonte Riley following behind with 5.7 per game. Point guard Mike Talley leads the club in assists with 4 per game. In their first game of the season, it was a coming out party for Riley, the 7-foot senior. He was a game-changer with his 7 blocks. The big difference in this one against the Albion Britons was rebounding (EM winning the battle 41-33) and the defense of the Eagles. Albion shot only 25% from the field and about 19% (3-16) from behind the arc.

     This is very much a common theme in their wins, good defense and solid rebounding overall. When they defeated Robert Morris earlier this year, they held them to only about 37% from the field and 28% (7-25) from the 3-point line. They again won the rebounding battle, 45-35 and fouls were a big part of this one too as the Colonials committed 26 personal fouls. In a more recent win against Green Bay (67-58), 4 of the 5 starters reached double figures in the scoring category with Glenn Bryant being the lone person in single digits with 4 points. Ray Lee led the team with 17 points and Da’Shonte Riley grabbed 8 rebounds as well. This game wasn’t the same as the others, as Eastern Michigan was outrebounded 37-29. They still held Green Bay to 35% from both the field and from beyond the arc while the Eagles shot about 44% from the field and around 43% (3-7) from 3.

     Their 3 losses were very, very tough. Against Kentucky, they shot only 36.4% from the field and 21.1% from 3 (connecting on only 4 of their 19 attempts). They were outrebounded 52-33 and couldn’t contain Aaron Harrison as he had 22 points to go along with his 7 rebounds. Nobody for Eastern Michigan scored in double figures except for Darell Combs, a 6-2 sophomore from South Holland, Illinois. He finished the game with 23 points in only 20 minutes of playing time off the bench. The Eagles couldn’t keep up with the Wildcats, committing 31 fouls leading to 40 free throw attempts. They were outmatched in almost every facet of the game, losing 81-63. The same could be said against the UMass Minutemen who went into Eastern Michigan and defeated them by 12, 69-57. UMass shot about 43% from the field as opposed to Eastern Michigan’s 39.7%. The rebounding margin wasn’t huge, only a difference of 7 in favor of UMass. This game came down to making shots and that’s what UMass did. One more point worth noting is that in their loss to Purdue, Karrington Ward had a huge game with 25 points and 8 rebounds, but he was only 1 of the 2 in double figures.

     Duke should not take this team lightly and they shouldn’t take any team lightly. Eastern Michigan has shown that they can hang with the better teams for a while and going into Cameron Indoor, I would expect them to hit some shots they wouldn’t normally. If Riley starts becoming troublesome for Duke down in the paint with his size, Mike Krzyzewski might have to put in Marshall Plumlee, a 7-1 redshirt sophomore from Warsaw, Indiana. I would expect the matchups to be as follows:

     Cook-Talley, Thornton-Lee, Hood-Ward, Parker-Bryant, and Hairston-Riley. I do feel that Sulaimon will see extra minutes after a good showing at Madison Square Garden against UCLA, but it was only one game, so I feel the Coach K will stick with Thornton and Hairston in the starting lineup.