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Posted on Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

Eastern Michigan basketball tops Purdue, 47-44, for first win over Big Ten since 1997

By Kyle Austin

eastern-michigan-basketball-jamell-harris copy.jpg

Eastern Michigan's Jamell Harris celebrates his team's win over Purdue Saturday at EMU's Convocation Center.

Daniel Brenner |

When Rob Murphy set up the 2012-13 Eastern Michigan basketball schedule with four games against major conference teams, he made it clear he didn’t consider them just guarantee games.

His players took note, and delivered what Murphy called “an extremely, extremely big win for our program.”

Eastern used good ball possession and a staunch defense to down Purdue, 47-44, in front of 1,790 fans at EMU’s Convocation Center Saturday afternoon.

The game marked Eastern’s first win against Purdue in four tries, and its first win against a Big Ten opponent since Dec. 17, 1997, when the Eagles beat Michigan on the road.

“We’re trying to win as we’re establishing our culture here. I think anytime you can get a Big Ten opponent in your building you have to take advantage of it,” Murphy said. “And this win will go a long way for us.”

After a strong start to the second half, Eastern led by as many as 10. Purdue came back to cut it to two points with 1:14 left.

The Boilermakers had a chance to take the lead late, but missed a three with 10 seconds left. EMU center Da’Shonte Riley made a free throw on the other end, and Purdue turned the ball over in its final chance to seal the EMU win.

Both teams struggled from the floor during much of the game, recording their lowest offensive outputs of the season. Purdue shot just 29.8 percent for the game, while Eastern shot 30.9 percent.

The game marked the second-lowest point output of coach Matt Painter’s tenure at Purdue, just two points better than a March 3, 2010 game against Minnesota.

"It was an ugly first half, kind of an ugly game, really,” Painter said. “It’s frustrating for us, because we feel like we continue to beat ourselves.”

But for Eastern, any ugly play was a result of its strong zone defense.

“We know that when we play our defense how we’re taught to that it’s a very tough defense to score points on,” guard J.R. Sims said.

Eastern managed just one field goal in the first eight minutes of the game, as it fell behind by nine early. But the Eagles clawed back with three buckets in the final 2:46 of the half to make it a one-point game at halftime.

Coming out of halftime, EMU’s Derek Thompson made a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Eastern its first lead of the game. It wouldn’t trail again.

“That’s a tough shot on the top of the key, just a one-on-one play,” Painter said. “He made a tough one there.”

The Eagles hit four 3-pointers in the first nine minutes of the second half -- after going 0-for-8 from deep in the first 20 minutes -- to key its comeback.

“We knew if we hit a few shots and go up, we’ll have a lead to protect,” Murphy said. “And I believe in our defense, if we can get a lead, it gets really tough to score on us.”

Ten EMU players scored in the contest, but none of them in double figures. Thompson led the Eagles with eight points. Daylen Harrison finished with 11 rebounds. Painter said it was the first time in 20 years he could remember losing to a team without a double-digit scorer.

For Eastern, the game marked the second this week against a high-major program, after traveling to Syracuse Monday. In that game, the Eagles turned the ball over 24 times in a 36-point loss.

Saturday, EMU turned the ball over just five times, while Purdue had 18 turnovers.

Murphy said the statistic was a focus in practice this week, and he opted to move veteran guard Austin Harper to the starting lineup Saturday for ball protection reasons.

“We needed to this week focus on handling the ball, taking care of the ball, making good decisions,” Murphy said. “When you have young point guards, you struggle, so I gave Austin Harper the start.”

While the mood after Saturday’s win was jubilant -- with the EMU student section rushing the court -- Eastern’s early season gauntlet is anything but over.

After traveling to Illinois-Chicago next Saturday, the Eagles will be at the Crisler Center to face Michigan Dec. 20 and Kentucky on Jan. 2.

But now, Eastern will go into those games knowing it has already knocked off a major conference foe.

“It just builds momentum for us,” Sims said of the win.

Kyle Austin covers sports for He can be reached at or 734-623-2535. Follow him on Twitter @KAustin_AA.



Mon, Dec 10, 2012 : 4:10 a.m.

A Big 10 team comes to your house and the best you can do is attract 1700 fans? Pitiful.


Tue, Dec 11, 2012 : 12:40 a.m.

The residents of Ypsi and the students at Eastern do not even support the sports programs.


Mon, Dec 10, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

Perhaps with legitimate media coverage more people would take interest. The casual sports fan didn't even know PU was in Ypsi Saturday. Unfortunately for EMU, they get the least amount of media coverage in D1 sports (it's deplorable when uses an AP report for an EMU home game). That's a shame on since EMU is in their coverage area. EMU FB and BB (to a lesser extent) have struggled in recent years for many reasons and a small portion of that blame belongs to a local media. Better coverage = more fans = better game atmosphere = better recruits. EMU sports are easily the best bargain in SE Michigan. You can take a family of 4 to a FB or BB game (including concessions) for the price of 1 ticket to UM. How many people in Michigan even know that there are 5 FBS football schools in MI or know that there are 7 D1 basketball programs? and the Detroit media do a terrible job of covering anything but the big 4 pro teams in Det and the 2 Big 10 teams.


Mon, Dec 10, 2012 : 3:34 a.m.

Didn't they give out some "Iceman" t-shirts at this game?


Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

So the Michigan men's bball regular season, non-conference win over Arkansas gets 6 stories, not counting the photo post, and a similar (upset factor excepted) EMU win over Purdue gets a story and a photo post, but the Michigan women's volleyball win over a higher-ranked team and their first ever trip to the national semis gets nothing? I find that a little ridiculous. I get it, the match was: 1) In California 2) REALLY late, Eastern time (11:30 p.m. start) But it's 11:30 a.m. I'd think that was at least enough time to get the wire story and a token picture up...


Mon, Dec 10, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

My point was not about the utter lack of regular season coverage. That part I (almost/sorta/kinda/maybe) understand. My point was the one Section Six reiterated and furthered in his or her first paragraph. I would imagine and hope that if ANY EMU or UM team made the NCAA Final Four, it would at least get a mention in less than 24 hours.


Mon, Dec 10, 2012 : 12:53 a.m.

eagleman, obviously I know the sports exist, but I'm not such a huge sports fan that I go out of the way to find the schedules or go to the games. I skim the sports headlines, read a few articles, and I enjoy hearing when local teams do well. Just now, to see what I'm missing, I went to the sports section. At the bottom of the page is a section called "Other Sports". There's an EMU link to a page of stories covering a number of sports and a golf link, but surprisingly there's no link for other UM sports. You'd think with the UM women's volleyball team doing as well as they are, that the least could do is put in a volleyball link this "Other Sports" section and cover volleyball, or perhaps a "UM" link for sports beyond football and basketball. Not that most casual readers like me would ever see that link on the sports page.

Section Six

Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 11:51 p.m.

Not covering U-M volleyball or EMU men's basketball or any non-revenue sport during the regular season is one (very understandable) thing. Completely ignoring the Wolverines' recent run in the NCAA volleyball tournament is embarrassing. Michigan beat arch rival Michigan State in the Sweet 16, was the lone unseeded team to reach the Elite Eight and upset the No. 2-seeded team in the tournament to reach the first FINAL FOUR in program history. Basing coverage decisions on anticipated "clicks" is a good business decision. Completely ignoring notable news is a slap to the face of the community serves. I've been looking for the college roundups that used to appear here last year during basketball season. There was not one word written about EMU men's basketball before the Syracuse game (six games into the season) and there has still not been one word written about U-M or EMU women's basketball to this day, as far as I can tell. Their games don't even merit a one paragraph summary? I'm sure every news outlet out there realizes that Michigan volleyball isn't going to generate those "clicks" you talk about, but they all took the time to write SOMETHING. (story and video): Detroit Free Press (extensive story): Michigan Daily (extensive story): Detroit News (short summary): (short summary):


Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

Greg, you mention two sports. EMU has many more sports than just basketball and football. EMU's women's team won the MAC last year. EMU has dominant programs in swimming, cross country, and track. EMU baseball has won two MAC titles in the past 6 years. They had their best record in a long time last season. That you think their sports are "unwatchable" is only proof of your ignorance. What a2sportschicks doesn't seem to grasp is that most non-revenue sports are ignored, not just UM women's volleyball. Lael, those sports are there. How can you not know about them? Just pay a visit to and emu I interned in EMU's SID office when I was in school. I know first hand how little attention these sports receive.


Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.

Maybe it's not drawing eyes because we don't know about it. I would be delighted to read about UM and EMU successes in other sports, especially women's sports.

greg, too

Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

EMU sports rarely get coverage because they are rarely worth watching. I am not saying that to be mean, but it is simply the truth. The football team was painful to watch, but it is nice to see the basketball team having some success finally in games that they should win....especially after that loss to national power Jacksonville State.


Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

EMU sports are rarely given much coverage so your complaints fall upon deaf ears here.Your whining about a lack of coverage on an article about EMU is ironic in view of this. Add to that that most people don't much care about non-revenue sports. HOw often do you see softball, soccer, swimming, etc on here? Not often., like most news outlets, will put up articles that will draw eyes. Volleyball doesn't draw eyes. I'm sorry that you don't like that, but it is the truth.


Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

Great win for EMU and the MAC, even if Purdue is the 10th or 11th team in the Big Ten (Nebraska might be better). Illinois Chicago will be a huge challenge with wins over Northwestern and Northern, and with no Butler in the Horizon League, the Flames could be the favorite. Play them one at a time, and no peeking at the Woverines or 'Cats.


Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 4:06 a.m.

quotes. game summary. background. real pics. player quotes. perspective this is a fine story - so i must be confused - is this real coverage of EMU sports from I hope its real - and I hope it continues all season


Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

Teamwork over superstars can win games.