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MAC Wrap - Week 3
The first round of divisional games is through and we are beginning to get a better feel for the squads. But the picture still looks muddled as cross-division plays springs into action.
Kent State 87, Akron 70- the Golden Flashes handle the Zips on the boards and in second-chance points
Ohio 99, Buffalo 77- Tommy Freeman goes off for a career-high 27 points and the East cellar dwellers don’t look the part with an offensive breakout
Eastern Michigan 57, Ball State 53- Eastern Michigan overcomes a dismal free throw shooting performance (39%) to squeak out a home win
Western Michigan 73, Toledo 41- the halftime score, Western 42, Toledo 15, tells a tale that didn’t change
Miami 64, Bowling Green 52- Good three-point shooting, rebounding, and defense (seven blocks) means another Miami win at Millett.
Central Michigan 81, Northern Illinois 75- The Huskies suffer their first MAC loss, done in by Jordan Bitzer and Robbie Harman
GAME OF THE WEEK
Ball State 65, Miami 59 2OT
It took ten extra minutes but West got better of East in a low-scoring struggle in Oxford.
It was back and forth until Miami ran out to an eight-point lead with 11 minutes left. The Redhawks held that lead until Jarrod Jones’ layup with 18 seconds to go tied it at 48. Kenny Hayes had a chance at the end of regulation but missed a triple.
In the first overtime, there was not much falling in, as the two teams combined for three converted field goals in the period. Antonio Ballard kept it square at 54, with a big block of Jarrod Jones with 35 second left. Again, Miami tried a three with the score tied and missed. To the second overtime, it brought them.
There Ball State took control, never trailing in the second overtime period, led by Jauwan Scaife’s big three-point play and Myron Green’s free throws.
Jarrod Jones finished the game with a double-double, 21 points and 12 rebounds. Julian Mavunga paced Miami with 14 points.
Neither team reached the 40% precipice shooting from the field. Miami made just 32% of its shots. Ball State is one of the stingiest defenses in the MAC. While Miami tries to play a defensive game, it is not as strong as it has been before, just 9 th in field goal percentage defense in MAC games.
In this grind it out, close game, Miami needs more from its senior leader Kenny Hayes. He scored nine points but Ball State held him to 4-15 shooting from the field.
Bowling Green 64, Eastern Michigan 61
In a matchup of two pretty even teams, Bowling Green used a second-half turn around to get the victory.
The Falcons were down 37-28 at halftime. But Scott Thomas’ strong play propelled a second half comeback. He scored 18 for the game and did a little bit of everything late in the game. He hit clutch back-to-back threes and then blocked Carlos Medlock’s game-tying shot attempt.
The sophomore Thomas has emerged as a much-needed scoring threat for the Falcons. He has put up double-digit points and five or more rebounds in each of the past five games.
Eastern Michigan came close but could not hold on to its halftime lead. It still needs to get better on the defensive side of the ball, 11 th in the MAC in FG% defense. This is a home loss that hurts, as the Eagles fall to 2-4 in conference play, with two tough road games upcoming against Miami and Akron.
Ball State 75, Buffalo 69
It was a quick turnaround for the Cardinals, playing a home game Tuesday and then traveling to Buffalo Thursday. But three days, two victories over the East for Ball State.
Buffalo’s defense has floundered very much the past two games, allowing Ohio to shoot over 50% on Saturday and then Ball State to hit 55% from the field. Ball State’s FG% for this season is 41.7%.
Even more eye-popping is Ball State’s 81% three-point shooting rate. Yes, the Cardinals took only eleven threes but that is still an impressive conversion ratio.
Despite the strong shooting, Ball State did not wrap up the contest until the final minutes. Buffalo went on a 10-0 run, catapulted by Sean Smiley’s two threes and layup, to cut the deficit to 66-65. However, Buffalo only shot 53.8% from the line and John Boyer missed two big ones with the score at 71-67 and 16 seconds on the clock.
Poor free throw shooting, especially when Boyer’s would have made it a one possession game, will do you in more times than not. This is out of character for a Buffalo team that averages over 70% from the charity stripe on the season. Another place where Buffalo lost this game is from beyond the arc. The Bulls were just 4-25 from three. Compare that with Ball State’s 9-11 and grasping a win will be difficult.
Ball State has to be happy with this week, despite a weekend loss to Eastern Michigan. Getting two straight weeknight wins against the strong East should be a confidence boost. That double overtime win may be a momentum shifter for the Cardinals. It was the difference between getting to .500 in the league and falling to 2-4. Now they sit at 4-3 and among the top of the West.
Kent State 69, Toledo 49
14 each from Tyree Evans and Justin Greene and 50% FG shooting are more than enough to soar over the Rockets.
Akron 79, Western Michigan 70
Two different point distributions: David Kool’s thirty were almost half of Western’s total output. On the Zips side, no one scored more than 11 but seven players had eight or more. Advantage: Akron.
Ohio 99, Northern Illinois 84
The Bobcats don’t have 99 problems, as Jay-Z might say, but they do have 99 points in two straight wins. This time, D.J. Cooper had a career-high 29 points. Northern’s Xavier Silas, the MAC’s leading scorer, lived up to that mantra with 31 points in the loss.
Miami 64, Central Michigan 51
Miami’s 20-7 second half run propelled a strong defensive performance to yet another home win. Kenny Hayes bounced back with a good showing, 20 points on 60% shooting.
Since the East and West are starting to face off, this week there will just be one player of the week, so…
MAC Beast of the Week
Armon Bassett, Ohio
20.5 PPG, 4 RPG, 5.5 APG average this week
The transfer was key in the Bobcats’ 2-0 week and offensive onslaught. He has put up big scoring numbers but is also distributing the ball well, reaching a high of seven assists in the Northern Illinois win.
MAC Weekend Forecast
Eastern Michigan at Miami- The Eagles are slumping and Miami’s defense will be strong yet again at home
Buffalo at Northern Illinois- Buffalo has hit a rough patch. Xavier Silas will take advantage of the Bulls’ defensive struggles
Western Michigan at Kent State- David Kool can’t do it all, as Kent State gets double-digit performances from Evans and Singletary in a low-scoring duel
Central Michigan at Bowling Green- The zone defense flusters Central and shuts down its three-point attack
Toledo at Akron- poor Toledo; this is not going to be pretty
Ball State at Ohio- Ohio runs a tired Ball State ragged, not scoring in the 90s but getting the best of the Cardinals
By Connor Kiesel