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MAC Wrap and Week 1

 

Saturday Snapshot

 

Akron 71, Bowling Green 45: It was close in the first half but Bowling Green could not find an offensive rhythm and Akron outscored the Falcons 39-17 in the second half.

 

Western Michigan 61, Eastern Michigan 47: The Broncos defense shut down the Eagles, who only shot 26.4% from the field.

 

Buffalo 73, Miami 55: Miami looked like a three-win team, not able to stop a proficient Bulls offense.

 

Central Michigan 59, Toledo 48: Toledo continues to struggle and Central does not have trouble getting the win.

 

Northern Illinois 62, Ball State 48: Transfer Xavier Silas went to the line 15 times…and made all 15 free throws, spurring Northern Illinois with his 25 points.

 

Kent State 62, Ohio 60: Chris Singletary took over the final minutes, making a clutch three-point play with 33 seconds left, to give Kent State a win in the its first MAC game.



Weeknight Breakdown

 

Miami 55, Kent State 53 OT

Miami was not assured of its first MAC win until the final seconds…of overtime. Five of Miami’s eight OT points came at the line but Rodney Haddix could only convert one of two with six seconds left, leaving the door open for Kent State. Chris Singletary missed a potential game-winning three and then Rodriguez Sherman could not tip it in.

The win is a comeback one for the Redhawks, who were down 24-11 at the half. It is not a good sign when you only score 11 points in a half. However, Miami turned it around and more than tripled that total in the second half.

For Kent State, Tyree Evans was the only player to reach double-digit points. He scored 23. Miami was led by Kenny Hayes and his 19 points. He also hit a three-pointer to tie the game with 1:09 left in regulation.

It is a big rebound win for Miami, which needed to get some positive momentum on its side. The comeback should rejuvenate them and provide some steam going forward in MAC action. Kent State is still a top defensive team and is among the best in level of play so far.

 

Central Michigan 53, Ball State 38

No offense, but Ball State is just playing putrid offense right now. The Cardinals have scored 35, 48 and 38 points in their last three games. They’re not only struggling to get to 50 but even just to 40.

Three Chippewas, Chris Kellerman, Jordan Bitzer and Robbie Harman, scored in double-digits. Just Jauwan Scaife reached that mark for the Cardinals, scoring 12. But he did so going 3-14 from the field.

Ball State was only able to convert on 24% of their shots and went 2-15 from three.

Central Michigan’s first two wins have come against Ball State and Toledo, two at the bottom of the MAC, so it will have to keep it up against tougher competition to prove a contender. If the trio of Harman, Bitzer and Kellerman is clicking, this team could be one to watch. It has definitely not hurt them to face two of the league’s worst offensive teams. But their defense is looking better in the early going.

Ball State needs to find a way to prevent stagnant offense. Jarrod Jones needs to put more points on the board than the 12 he has in the first two games.

 

Akron 67, Ohio 62

Another night, another close Bobcats loss and Akron win. The Bobcats have struggled to win these tight contests and they could not again Wednesday night.

Jimmy Conyers spurred Akron with a double-double (16 points, 14 rebounds). The Bobcats, thin at the three thanks to the injury of Steven Coleman, did not have much of a match for Conyers at that spot. Brett McKnight took advantage of Ohio’s interior issues with 13 points.

The Bobcats got down early once again and looked flat at the start at home. Armon Bassett looked strong scoring 25 points and penetrating well to the hoop. D.J. Cooper continued with his all-around performances, scoring 11, rebounding three, assisting five and stealing three. He does a bit of everything, though he shot only 3-12 from the field.

The game really turned on Akron’s ability to get on the offensive boards. The Zips picked up 14 offensive rebounds and those extra opportunities made the difference. Right now, the Bobcats are just lacking depth and consistency inside.

They are also severely hindered by the loss of Steven Coleman, who is out with a hand injury. At the end of this game, the Bobcats were using a lineup of Bassett, Cooper, Asown Sayles, DeVaughn Washington and Kenneth Van Kempen. Akron took advantage of this, knowing that Bassett and Cooper were the only real offensive threats on the floor. Ohio is at its best when Cooper and Bassett are driving to the hoop, but that can only work so much. Tommy Freeman only got two shots attempts and he made both. The Bobcats need to get him more involved to help their recent offensive struggles.

Akron continues to play tight defense and is reminding us why they won the MAC tournament last March. Keith Dambrot has a lot of pieces at his disposal. Seven players are averaging seven points or more right now. The Zips spread the wealth and really play as a team. You can’t focus on one or two players on defense because there are a bunch of guys who contribute.

> Check out the MAC basketball standings here @ VanDelay Sports

 

Northern Illinois 87, Western Michigan 77

In the conference’s highest scoring game of the week, Northern Illinois got its second straight win, hitting 12 of 20 three-point attempts.

The Huskies were lighting it up from beyond the arc, led by Mike DiNunno. The sophomore has experienced a slump but broke out Wednesday night. He hit 6 of his 9 three-point attempts, scoring 20 points and adding 10 assists.

Overall, Northern Illinois did a good job distributing the ball. Its 21 assists more than doubled Western Michigan’s 10. David Kool continued a stellar start to his senior season with 26 points. Kool is just a dynamic scorer that defenses must focus on and makes this Western Michigan team legitimate.

The most surprising part of this game is Western Michigan giving up 87 points. The Broncos are number one in the MAC in field goal percentage defense, while Northern Illinois is 11th in field goal percentage. But four Huskies scored more than 10 points.

Western Michigan has a hiccup here but it’s a road game and one from which it should move on quickly. Northern Illinois is starting to show some of the potential people thought they had going into this season. DiNunno, Silas, Anderson and Kowal could be a formidable group going forward.

 

Eastern Michigan 74, Toledo 59

A two-point halftime lead ballooned in the second half, as Eastern Michigan scored as many as 17 unanswered points to get the win.

Brandon Bowdry again looked strong recording his ninth double-double in fifteen games. He has scored double-digit points in all but one game, the Saturday loss to Western.

The Rockets started three freshmen and the young team is continuing to go through growing pains. In this one, freshmen Jake Barnett and Malcolm Griffin were bright spots, scoring 19 and 17 respectively.

 

Buffalo 68, Bowling Green 65

Buffalo led from the 5:25 remaining point in the first half until the last 39 seconds of the game. Then it needed some last second heroics by Sean Smiley.

Bowling Green was down nine at half and inched closer through the second half, but could not reach Buffalo until down 65-60, Scott Thomas hit a three with 1:15 left to draw the Falcons within two and then Dee Brown converted two free throws to tie it at 65-65.

But Smiley hit a three with a waning shot and game clock to dash Bowling Green’s hopes of an overtime period. Smiley finished the night with 14 points, 12 off of threes. Rodney Pierce and Thomas shared the mantra of the game’s leading scorer, each putting up 21. Thomas added 10 rebounds to earn a double-double.

John Boyer has been doing a good job taking the reigns at point guard and he once again did well. He scored nine points, had seven rebounds and five assists to go along with no turnovers. Bowling Green guards Joe Jakubowski and Brown also took good care of the ball, combining for only one turnover.

In a close game, Bowling Green did not have that extra offensive oomph to put them over the edge. It is still a good defensive team but the Smiley three did the Falcons in when it mattered most. Buffalo is off to a 2-0 MAC start with a home and road win, showing a deep group again.

 

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East Beast of the Week

Jimmy Conyers, Akron

16 PPG, 10 RPG, 55 % FG average this week

- The senior has never averaged more than his 3.2 PPG and RPG, but with increased minutes, is proving to be a pleasant early surprise for the Zips.

 

Best of the West

David Kool, Western Michigan

22.5 PPG, 3 RPG, 2 steals per game, 50% 3 pt. FG average this week

- Don’t be surprised to see Kool in this spot more than a few times this season.

Weekend Forecast

Northern Illinois at Eastern Michigan - Northern cools down, as Eastern wins a shootout

Western Michigan at Central Michigan- The other 2-0 West squad also falls, as Western plays much better defense on the road this time

Ohio at Miami- Ohio loses yet another close game, as this time Miami’s Nick Winbush victimizes the Bobcats

Ball State at Toledo - Ball State should win but don’t be surprised to see Toledo give a spirited home effort and fall just short

Kent State at Bowling Green- the Falcons losing skid continues, as Kent State bounces back after the overtime loss to Miami

Buffalo at Akron- Rodney Pierce does not score 20 this time and Akron gets an eight-point home win to stay undefeated in the conference

 

 

 

 

By Connor Kiesel
MAC Basketball Correspondent