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Eastern Michigan, Sacramento State suffer setbacks as unbeaten teams dwindle to twenty

Credit: UC Irvine

The number of undefeated Div. I teams dwindled to twenty on Saturday as previously unbeaten Eastern Michigan and Sacramento State both took it on the chin.

With a completely overhauled roster, Eastern Michigan is expected to finish at or near the bottom of the Mid-American Conference West Division — at least according to most preseason predictions — but entered Saturday’s game against UC Irvine (5-4) with a pristine 6-0 record.

Never mind that they’ve beaten up on the likes of lower division Siena Heights, Goshen and Michigan-Dearborn, they were still undefeated.

But that changed last night as the UC Irvine Anteaters, playing before a friendly crowd at the Bren Events Center in Irvine, limited the previously unbeaten Eagles to 30.5 percent shooting from the floor, including a woeful 3 of 19 from beyond the arc, en route to a relatively easy 77-56 victory.

UC Irvine’s Collin Welp, a 6-9 sophomore forward, led all scorers with a game-high 31 points.  Welp made 7 of 9 three-pointers in the game.  

In a battle of unbeaten teams, Colorado’s double-double threat Tyler Bey, a 6-7 junior with NBA potential, tallied eleven points and pulled down 17 rebounds as the Buffaloes defeated visiting Sacramento State 59-45 on Saturday night. 

Colorado improved to 6-0 for the second time in the past three seasons while Sacramento State dropped to 4-1.

A third undefeated team barely escaped with its record intact on Saturday as Arkansas (7-0) struggled to defeat Northern Kentucky 66-60 at the Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. 

The Razorbacks trailed through much of the first half and saw their second-half advantage trimmed to a single point at 61-60 on a layup by Dantez Walton with 24 seconds remaining before icing the game at the charity stripe.  Walton led all scorers in the game with 30 points.

Arkansas hosts Austin Peay (3-3) on Tuesday before traveling to Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Saturday to take on Western Kentucky (6-2).

Indiana — the only other undefeated team playing on Saturday — had a somewhat easier time of it, defeating visiting South Dakota State 64-50.  Trayce Jackson-Davis, a 6-9 freshman, scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double as the Hoosiers improved to 7-0 on the season.

The losses by Eastern Michigan and Sacramento State yesterday reduced the remaining number of undefeated Div. I teams to a meager twenty teams barely one month into the season.

The nation’s remaining unbeaten teams include the American Athletic Conference’s SMU Mustangs (7-0), Louisville (7-0) and Virginia (7-0) in the ACC, the Atlantic Sun’s Liberty University (9-0), third-year coach Keith Dambrot’s Duquesne Dukes (6-0) — the lone undefeated team in the Atlantic 10 — resurgent DePaul (8-0) and Butler (7-0) in the Big East, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio State, each of whom is 7-0, in the Big Ten, Oklahoma State (7-0) and West Virginia (6-0) in the Big 12, the Colonial Athletic Association’s Delaware (8-0), UTEP (5-0) in Conference USA, the Mountain West’s San Diego St. (8-0), Arizona (8-0) and Colorado (6-0) in the Pac-12, and the SEC’s Auburn and Arkansas, both of whom are an identical 7-0.

Three of those teams — Arizona, Maryland and West Virginia — will be in action later today.

Darcy G. Richardson is a historian and the author of more than a dozen books. His latest is Loyola's Improbable Ramblers: 55 Years in the Making, available now on Amazon.

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