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Inside look at high school and Oakland University sports from Oakland Press sports writer Dave Pemberton.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Oakland at Eastern Michigan preview

The opponent — Eastern Michigan (2-8) is yet to beat a Division I opponent this season, with its two victories being over Marygrove and Wayne State. The Eagles have lost their eight games against Division I opponents by an average of 13.9 points. Eastern Michigan’s worst loss was a 31-point drubbing by Michigan and its closest game was a one-point loss at Georgia.

Sophomore forward Brandon Bowdry (6-foot-6, 229) is the Eagles leading scorer at 15.2 points per game and rebounder (7.0 per game), but is also averaging over four turnovers per game. Junior forward Justin Dobbins (6-8, 240) averages 11.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game and is the Eagles tallest player that is averaging over 10 minutes a game.

Sophomore guard Solomon Farris (8.7 points, 4.5 rebounds) and redshirt freshman L.J. Frazier (8.2 points, 3.8 assists) have started all 10 games in the backcourt for Eastern Michigan. Farris (14-for-33) and Frazier (17-for-39) are also the team’s leading 3-point shooters.

The Eagles were dealt a critical blow in the preseason when senior guard and last year’s leading scorer Carlos Medlock was lost for the season to a broken foot.

Key matchup —
Oakland’s Keith Benson vs. Eastern Michigan’s Justin Dobbins. Benson has strung together four solid games in a row and the Grizzlies need to get him involved early against the Eagles. Benson will have a distinct height advantage and should be able to dominate the inside.

Dobbins had his best-game of the season (22 points and seven rebounds) in the Eagles one-point loss at Georgia. Oakland will need to keep Dobbins and Bowdry off the boards.

Matchup history — This will be the third year in a row that these two teams will face off. Eastern Michigan leads the all-time series 6-3, but Oakland has won the last two and both games since it turned Division I. The Eagles last victory over Oakland was back on Nov. 26, 1996.

The Grizzles defeated the Eagles 86-71 last season at the O’Rena. Derick Nelson led Oakland with 21 points and nine rebounds and Johnathon Jones added 16 points and five assists. Erik Kangas missed the game last season with a broken collarbone and Nelson will miss this year’s game with a broken foot. Jesse Bunkley, who has graduated, was the only Eastern Michigan player in double figures, with 19 points off the bench.

The skinny — This could be somewhat of a trap game for Oakland. The Grizzlies are playing their third game in six days and coming off an emotional game against Michigan at The Palace. Oakland could come out inspired after the loss to the Wolverines or flat. If the Grizzlies don’t respect their opponent, they could let an Eastern Michigan team hungry for a victory catch them off-guard. If Oakland comes out and played like it did in the second half against Michigan, then it should roll to an easy victory.



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