College Basketball – Eagles’ defense ranks as one of the nation’s best

MSU Defense among the best in the Nation
MSU Defense among the best in the Nation

MOREHEAD, Ky. – At 5-2, the Morehead State men’s basketball team is off to one of its best starts in recent history. Prior to a loss at Indiana, they were 5-1 through their first six games for the first time since 1990-91.

Two big reasons for their early success — defense and rebounding.

Through the first seven games, the Eagles rank near the top of many of the nation’s defensive and rebounding categories. Following back-to-back wins over Southern Mississippi and Saint Louis, where they allowed just 46 points to the Golden Eagles and the Billikens, Morehead State ranked first in the country in scoring defense, giving up just 54.5 points per game. Following the loss at IU, the Eagles still rank 16th in the country in scoring defense, giving up just 59.9 points per game.

Defensively, MSU has been especially productive at taking the ball away. The Eagles rank 17th in the nation with 9.3 steals per game and 21st with 17 turnovers forced per game.

“We are defending the basketball really well right now, and that’s keeping us in games and giving us a chance to win,” said head coach Sean Woods.

Despite consistently facing a height disadvantage, the Eagles have a +9.1 rebounding advantage on the season, which ranks 26th in the land. Forty-one percent of their rebounds are of the offensive variety, good for 15.7 per game, which ranks 12th in the country. In five of the seven games, MSU has outrebounded its opponent by nine or more: Cincinnati Christian (39-27), Illinois State (37-27), Marshall (45-27), Southern Miss (43-24), Saint Louis (34-25). They beat SLU on the offensive glass, 10-2.

Junior forward DeJuan Marrero leads the team with 7.0 rebounds, 2.9 offensive rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game.

Following a week off, Morehead State returns to action on Sundayas they travel to Pittsburgh to face the Pitt Panthers. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.