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Eastern Michigan's men's basketball team finished the regular season with a five-game winning streak, which paid major dividends – on multiple fronts.

For starters, the Eagles earned a coveted bye into the Mid-American Conference quarterfinals in Cleveland.

Also, the winning streak pushed Eastern's record to 20-11, which earned coach Rob Murphy a one-year extension on his current contract. Under the terms of Murphy's deal, signed in 2011, every year his team wins 20 games, he automatically gets one year tacked on to his contract.

His original contract, signed April 25, 2011, ran through March 2017, but was extended twice, through March 2019, after 20-win seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15. The deal, which pays him a base salary of $235,000 a year, now has been lengthened through March 2020.

The Eagles, led by juniors Elijah Minnie (16.9 points), James Thompson IV (15.3, 11.5 rebounds) and Paul Jackson (14.9), will open MAC tournament play at 9 p.m. Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, where it will face the winner of Monday's game between Akron and Western Michigan in Kalamazoo.

Eastern Michigan is the No. 3 seed, at 20-11, 11-7 in the MAC.

In seven seasons in Ypsilanti, Murphy is 127-108, with no NCAA Tournament appearances. Eastern hasn't made the NCAA since 1998.

In other state MAC tournament action, Central Michigan hosts a game Monday night against Bowling Green.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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