Eastern Michigan eyes first win since ’87 against No. 15 Michigan State

NCAA Basketball
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Michigan State might get one guard back by the time it takes on Eastern Michigan on Saturday, but the Spartans found out this week that they won’t get senior guard Joshua Langford back in the lineup at all this season.

A day after No. 15 Michigan State (8-3, 2-0 Big Ten) knocked off Northwestern to remain the only unbeaten team in conference action, it was announced that Langford had another surgical procedure on his left foot and would be lost for season.

“We’ll talk about any other options he has when the time comes,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “… But that saddens me because (of) the kind of kid he’s been. He’s just done everything we could ask of him and for him it’s been unfair.

“This kid means the world to me, and I think to our program from what he stood for religiously, academically, athletically. He was the workhorse of our team.”

Langford hasn’t played since Dec. 29, 2018, when what seemed like a minor ailment led to surgery and a lost junior season. After rehabbing all summer, Langford was two weeks from the start of his senior season when a setback put him back on the shelf.

His replacement, freshman Rocket Watts, has missed the past three games with a stress reaction in his left leg but is getting closer to returning. Izzo said there was a slight chance Watts would play Saturday against Eastern Michigan but it was more likely he’d be back on Dec. 29 against Western Michigan.

But the Eagles come first, and that means facing a difficult 2-3 zone defense, one coach Rob Murphy brought with him from his days as an assistant at Syracuse.

“We feel comfortable that if we move the ball good, we’ll get some good shots,” Izzo said. “But they play it at an elite level. They don’t shoot great, but they’ve got a couple guys come off the bench that shoot it really well. But they play hard as hell. They’re athletic and they have some size.”

It’s all been enough for Eastern Michigan (9-1) to get off to its best start in school history.

The Eagles haven’t beaten the Spartans since 1987, but Murphy is heading to East Lansing with plans to win the game.

“Obviously they’re a great team,” Murphy said of Michigan State. “Anytime you’re in the Breslin (Center) it’s a tough place to play. I’m thankful for the opportunity Coach Izzo gave us to come there. Financially, it helps our budget and gives us an opportunity to play on a big platform and national TV. But with that being said, we’re preparing to win the basketball game. They’re a great team with a great point guard and obviously a hall of fame coach and I’m sure they’ll be well-prepared.

“You gotta play and guys got to step up and make plays. If these guys continue to step up we’ll have an opportunity. We’ll have a chance and I’m looking forward to it.”

–Field Level Media

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