MAC Men’s Basketball Review: Jan. 14

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MAC East

Akron (10-5, 2-0)

After a tough non-conference schedule, the Zips opened MAC play with two tough road victories, traveling to Ball State and Ohio.

Akron was able to gain late advantages in both games, winning by scores of 59-58 and 83-80, respectively. Both games were hard-fought, with the Ohio game going into double overtime. Quincy Diggs came up big for the Zips, scoring 21 and 20 points, respectively, in the two games, earning himself MAC East Player of the Week honors. Akron will host Miami (Ohio) Wednesday night.

Buffalo (8-4, 2-0)

The Bulls of Buffalo also opened up with a tough non-conference schedule and two wins to open conference play.

However, both of these wins came at home, against Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan. Northern Illinois couldn’t seem to score against the tough defense from the Bulls, only scoring 46 points. The Bulls were then able to use their defense to get easy baskets and lead them to a 67-46 victory. Buffalo had a strong second half against Eastern Michigan. Their 12 assists in the final 20 minutes helped them overcome an 8-point deficit to get the win 76-66. Buffalo will travel to Toledo on Wednesday to take on the Rockets.

Ohio (11-4, 1-1)

Ohio opened up MAC play after a successful non-conference schedule by traveling to Kent State.

The Bobcats’ defensive effort lifted them over the Flashes, who shot just 28.3 percent for the game. The Bobcats had a solid all-around effort, with three players grabbing 7 or more rebounds. Nick Kellogg led the way with 19 points and was the only Bobcat in double digits. In the end, Ohio was able to hold on after a late Kent State run, winning 59-53.

Akron came into a packed Convocation Center on Sunday and grabbed the 83-80 victory in double overtime. The Ohio defense was able to force 17 turnovers in the game, but gave up 17 offensive rebounds to the Zips in the second half and overtime periods. Maurice Ndour’s career-high 25 points weren’t enough to lift the Bobcats over Akron in the final minutes. Ohio will take on Ball State Wednesday night in the Convo and look to get back on track in MAC play.

Kent State (10-5, 1-1)

The Flashes of Kent State were able to have a fairly successful non-conference schedule before opening up MAC play, as they hosted the Ohio Bobcats on January 8.

The Bobcat defense was too much for the Flashes to handle, and a late-game run couldn’t quite lift Kent State to victory as they fell, 53-59. Both teams played tremendous defense and held the offenses under 40 percent from the field, but the Bobcats were able to convert more down the stretch.

Saturday was a different story, as the Flashes took on Ball State in Kent, Ohio. After a 39-32 deficit at halftime, the Flashes were able to outscore Ball State by 19 in the second half, winning 86-74. This second half surge was led by Darren Goodson, Kris Brewer and Derek Jackson, who combined for 53 of Kent State’s 86 points in the game. Wednesday night, the Flashes will take on Northern Illinois in their first MAC game played on the road this season.

Miami (Ohio) (5-8, 1-1)

Miami had a tough non-conference schedule to start the year, but has played well to begin their MAC schedule.

On January 8, the Redhawks were able to come away with a road win against the Central Michigan Chippewas, 77-70. The Redhawks came out hot, but cooled off in the final part of the first half, only scoring three points in the final seven minutes of the half. Their hot shooting returned in the second half, however, as they shot over 55 percent in the final stanza. This was a game of offensive runs, and the final run by Miami was enough to propel them over the Chippewas.

Miami was riding a lot of momentum from this win, but couldn’t come away with another victory on Saturday, as Western Michigan was able to defeat them in overtime by a score of 78-77. Despite the loss, Miami had solid play from senior Bill Edwards, who scored a career-high 24 points in his first game in over a year due to a knee injury. The Redhawks will look to brush themselves off and come away with a victory as they travel to Akron to take on the Zips on Wednesday.

Bowling Green (6-9, 0-2)

Bowling Green has faced a tough start to the season, losing two MAC games at home to start off the conference schedule and extending their losing streak to four.

On January 8, Eastern Michigan was able to go into the Stroh Center and defeat the Falcons, 56-51. The Falcons had four players who scored in double figures, but it came down to free throw shooting late in the game. The Falcons only shot 57 percent from the line, while the Eagles were able to convert on 70 percent of theirs. This gap in scoring from the line kept the Falcons from gaining the victory.

Bowling Green looked to bounce back Sunday night as the Huskies of Northern Illinois came into town, but the Falcons were again shot down, 45-36. The issue in this game was the Falcons’ meager 29 percent shooting from the field. They were able to hold the Huskies to 33 percent shooting, but NIU converted on BGSU’s 17 turnovers. Bowling Green will have another chance to win at home as Central Michigan comes into town on Wednesday. Both teams will be looking for their first MAC victories.


MAC West

Western Michigan (9-5, 2-0)

Western Michigan currently sits atop the MAC West standings after wins against Toledo and Miami (Ohio).

The Broncos’ defense was able to hold the high-powered offense of Toledo to just 37 percent shooting in the game, while the offense was able to shoot a red-hot 60 percent from the floor to lead them to a 87-76 victory. MAC West Player of the Week Connar Tava shot a perfect 9-9 to give him 25 points in the game. Tava was one of four Broncos in double digits in this upset of the preseason MAC West favorite Rockets.

The Broncos were riding this momentum as they traveled to Oxford, Ohio to take on Miami. Western Michigan again came out on fire, shooting 62 percent from the field in the first half, while holding the Redhawks to just 29 percent in the opening stanza. However, the Broncos’ 16 turnovers allowed Miami to stay close throughout the game. The Broncos would ultimately gain the victory in overtime after a game winning free throw from David Brown. Western Michigan will look to continue their winning ways tonight as they travel to Eastern Michigan.

Toledo (13-2, 1-1)

The Toledo Rockets have had an impressive start to the season, but were shocked in their MAC West loss in Western Michigan before bouncing back with a home victory over Central Michigan.

The Rockets couldn’t stop Western Michigan on January 8. WMU came out on fire, shooting 68 percent from the field in the first half. The Rockets battled all the way to end, and even cut the lead to four with just under five minutes left in the game. This was as close as they would get, as the Broncos were able to pull it back out to an 87-76 victory.

The Rockets bounced back strong on Saturday, defeating Central Michigan 86-71. This victory was led by their impressive ball movement on offense. Toledo finished the game with 23 assists and only 11 turnovers. Toledo was able to grab an early lead and hold onto it for the majority of the game. Toledo will be at home against Buffalo Wednesday night in what should be a great matchup between two of the top teams in the MAC.

Eastern Michigan (9-6, 1-1)

After facing three top-10 teams in their non-conference schedule, Eastern Michigan opened up MAC play with a win at Bowling Green before falling to Buffalo.

EMU was able to go into Bowling Green on January 8 and get a hard-fought victory, 56-51. The key for the Eagles was getting the ball in the paint, where they scored 28 of their 56 points. They were also able to convert on 21 of their 30 free throw attempts to help them hold on down the stretch.

After this win, the Eagles traveled to Buffalo on Saturday, where they would fall to the Bulls, 76-66. EMU was able to get four players in double figures, but couldn’t keep a handle on the ball, as they gave it up 17 times throughout the game. These turnovers then gave Buffalo opportunities to get easy buckets in transition. The Eagles will face Western Michigan Wednesday as they try to knock off the division-leading Broncos.

Northern Illinois (7-7, 1-1)

The Huskies of Northern Illinois have split the season thus far, posting a .500 overall and MAC record.

After splitting the non-conference games, the Huskies lost at Buffalo before bouncing back with a win in Bowling Green. Buffalo jumped ahead early, scoring the first 16 points of the game, and never looked back, as they defeated the Huskies, 67-46. NIU fought back from the early 16-0 deficit and were only down four at halftime, but couldn’t keep up with the three-point shooting of Buffalo in the opening minutes of the second half.

After this loss, the Huskies had to travel to Bowling Green on Sunday to take on the Falcons. NIU trailed by one late in the game, but managed to outscore the Falcons 11-1 in the final three minutes to take the win, 45-36. Despite only converting on 13 of 28 attempts from the charity stripe, the Huskies found a way to win late in the game. Wednesday night they will host the Flashes of Kent State as they attempt to move up in the MAC West standings.

Central Michigan (7-7, 0-2)

Of the three teams from Michigan in the MAC West, Central Michigan has fared the worst over the beginning part of the season.

CMU opened up MAC play with losses at home against Miami (Ohio) and away against Toledo. On January 8, Miami rolled into town and took down the Chippewas 77-70. CMU battled throughout the game, but their late surge wasn’t enough to get the victory. After pulling to within three late, Miami iced the game by converting on crucial free throws.

After this tough loss, the Chippewas traveled to Toledo, where they were never able to put up too much of a fight, falling 86-71. The main issue for CMU in this game was their offense. They shot just 44 percent from the field and had 12 turnovers, eight of those coming in the first half. The Chippewas will stay on the road as they take on Bowling Green on Wednesday.

Ball State (3-10, 0-2)

It has been a tough start to the season for the Cardinals of Ball State.

After winning just three non-conference games, the Cardinals started MAC play with losses to Akron and Kent State. Ball State pushed the two-time defending MAC champion Akron Zips to the final seconds in a 72-68 loss. The Cardinals battled back from 10 down in the final two minutes before Nick Harney of Akron made one of two free throws to push the lead to four and seal Ball State’s fate.

Coming off of this emotional game, the Cardinals came out strong against Kent State but were unable to hold on in the second half, falling 86-74. Midway through the second stanza, the Flashes went on a 16-0 run to gain control of the game. Kent State’s 64 percent shooting in the second half, combined with the 18 turnovers they forced in the game, was enough to propel them over the Cardinals. Ball State will travel to Ohio on Wednesday to take on the Bobcats.