MARSHALL MARCHES ON:
The Thundering Herd is off to its best start in 16 years with a perfect 8-0 record following their 127-126 double overtime win at Western Michigan on Dec. 21. The Herd scored the winning points with six second left on a steal by Joda Burgess who fed Marques Evans for the game winning basket. The Herd is off to its best start since the 1973-74 team began the season 9-0. Marshall's 89-79 win against Georgia on Dec. 18 marked the school's first triumph over an SEC foe since beating Tennessee 47-40 during the 1939-40 season. Marshall forced the Bulldogs into a season-high 25 turnovers.
RECORDS SET: The Marshall-Western Michigan game established a few MAC records. The 127 points allowed by the Broncos eclipsed the former mark of 125 set in 1970, coincidentally in Marshall's 125-98 win at Western Michigan. The Thundering Herd's 17 three-point goals tied the league record set in 1979 by Bowling Green versus Siena. The team's 253 combined points bypassed the former mark set twice, in 1987 (Central Michigan 127, Oakland 116) and 1998 (Ohio 122, Central Michigan 121 in overtime).
11 GET 10: Eleven players scored on double figures in Marshall's 127-126 2OT win at Western Michigan. For Marshall, Tamar Slay captured game-high honors with 38, Travis Young had 27, J.R. Van Hoose 24 and Joda Burgess 12. WMU was led by Robert Watson's 26, while Thadus Williams had 22, Tony Barksdale 21, Emil Mulic 17, Rod Brown 14, Taylor Bro 12 and Jon Powell 10.
EAGLES WINGS CLIPPED: A glance to the Eastern Michigan at TCU boxscore reveals an interesting stat. EMU lost the game 107-101 in double overtime despite making 19 more field goals the the Horned Frogs. TCU shot 70 free throws, making an NCAA record 56 (the old mark was 53 set in 1956 by Morehead State versus Cincinnati, and in 1992 by Miami University versus Central Michigan). TCU averaged a free throw every 43 seconds. EMU was 11-of-18 from the charity stripe, was whistled for 41 personal fouls and had five players foul out while TCU was penalized for 23 infractions with no one fouling out.
BEATING THE BIG TEN: After MAC teams the year 0-8 versus teams from the Big Ten, Northern Illinois and Ball State turned the tables with wins against Wisconsin and Purdue, respectively. NIU's 55-51 win on Dec. 14 was the Huskies first triumph against a Big Ten school since 1986. Ball State knocked off then No. 24 ranked Purdue 72-52 Dec. 18 in the first men's collegiate game ever played at Conseco Field House in Indianapolis. The Cardinals win was also the first by a MAC team against a top 25 ranked team this season.
NIU TURNAROUND: With big man T.J. Lux, who has 51 career double-doubles, back from last year's injury, the Huskies take a three-game winning streak and a 7-2 record into Thursday's game at No. 23 (ESPN)/24 (AP) ranked DePaul. The seven wins represent two more than NIU's five wins last year. Lux is averaging 20.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game to rank fourth in the MAC in each category. The Huskies 7-2 start is the best at NIU since the 1994-95 squad went 9-0. Much of the team's success is due to its rebounding edge on the offensive end of the floor, a 137-69 advantage over its opponents.
COACHING MILESTONES: NIU head coach Brian Hammel recorded his 200th career win in the Huskies 83-52 triumph over Buffalo on Dec. 18. Earlier this year, Western Michigan's Bob Donewald secured his 350th career win in the Broncos' 78-71 win against Youngstown State.
YOUNG THUNDERING HERD: Marshall's 8-0 start is fueled by two sophomores who lead the team in scoring - Tamar Slay (19.0) and J.R. VanHoose (18.2), and two juniors Cornelius Jackson, who leads the MAC in assists (48), and Travis Young, who leads the MAC in steals per game (3.14).
ANDRICK IN THE CLUTCH: With Ryan Andrick injured for four games last year, Akron went through an 0-4 spurt before he returned and the team won its next six games. The 6-7 forward has proven his value to the team again this year with a clutch shot to win the Rhode Island game 64-62. Andrick's heroics came with 1.2 seconds on the clock and handed the Rams only their second home loss in the last 18 games. Andrick finished the game with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
BENCH POWER: Akron's players off the bench are averaging 24.0 points per game and outscored the Rhode Island bench 20-0 in UA's 64-62 win.
60 IS CARDINAL'S MAGIC NUMBER: Ball State has won its last 52 games when holding opponents to under 60 points, including a 41-0 mark under current head coach Ray McCallum. With its 72-52 win versus then No. 24 ranked Purdue, BSU is 3-2 in its last five games versus Big Ten opponents. With BSU's win against Chaminade on Dec. 21, McCallum improved his career record to 111-68 for a .620 winning percentage that ranks fourth all-time in league history.
BG BLUES: After opening the season with six straight wins, Bowling Green dropped games to Northern Iowa and West Virginia. The Falcons cold shooting, 39.3% from the floor in the last three games, was in sharp contrast to its early season success that had the team nationally ranked sixth and fifth, respectively, in FG pct. the first two weeks of the season. BG has non-league games versus Urbana and Arkansas-Little Rock before beginning MAC play Jan. 2 versus Marshall.
ROAD CATS: The Ohio University Bobcats will spend 3.5 weeks and six consecutive games on the road beginning Dec. 22 at Portland. Ohio then plays at the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic in Honolulu from Dec. 28-30 before returning to MAC action Jan. 5 at Kent and Jan. 8 at Miami. A much welcomed home game is next on the schedule for Jan. 11 versus Akron. Ohio is 4-2 away from the Convocation Center this year.
HOME ALONE: The Toledo Rockets are in the midst of 10 consecutive games on the road or at neutral sites. UT opened the season at home Nov. 19 with an 82-74 win against George Mason and will not play again at Savage Hall until hosting Central Michigan on Jan. 2. UT is 4-4 its first eight games away from home with contests at Ohio State and Xavier to follow.
ACTION FROM JACKSON: Bowling Green junior guard Trent Jackson scored only 44 points in 183 minutes his last year. He had to sit out the first semester after transferring from Ohio State, where he played in 14 games during the 1996-97 season (2.9 ppg). Jackson's patience in waiting for playing time was well invested and now the payoff for BG is Jackson's league-leading field goal percentage (.618, 42-of-68) and league-best free throw percentage (.867, 26-of-30). Jackson is averaging 13.8 points a game, 17th best in the MAC, and his 110 total points is 26 more than he scored the last two years with the Falcons and Buckeyes.
MANCIEL SIDELINED: Off-season foot surgery has sidelined the 1999 MAC Freshman of the Year, Central Michigan's Mike Manciel, for the entire season. Manciel will have a screw put in his left foot and will not return. Manciel averaged 17.5 points and 6.4 rebounds a game last year for the Chippewas, both team highs. Look for sophomore guard David Webber to continue picking up the scoring loss left by Manciel's departure. Webber, the younger brother of Sacramento King Chris Webber, is averaging a MAC eighth-best 18.1 ppg and has a high of 29 against Detroit.
HELPING OUT THE CHIPPEWAS: CMU's Todd Schrotenboer, a transfer from Grand Valley State University, where he played two years for current CMU head coach Jay Smith before transferring, has also stepped up in the absence of last year's MAC Freshman of the Year and team leading scorer Mike Manceil by scoring in double figures for the third time in the last four games with 15 points versus Georgia State. After scoring 19 points in CMU's first four games 4.8 ppg), Schrotenboer has contributed 51 points the last four games (12.8 ppg) and had his first double-double with 15 points and 10 boards against Detroit.
FRESHMAN FINDS: Last year Ball State freshman Lonnie Jones led the MAC in blocked shots at 2.0 per game. This year another Cardinal freshman, Theron Smith, is among the league's rebound leaders as he is fifth with 89.0 per game. Smith is also contributing 12.0 ppg.
AFTER WALLY: With the loss of All-American Wally Szczerbiak and All-MAC Damon Frierson from last year's team, many "experts" predicted a long fall for the RedHawks. Miami, despite an early record of 1-3, rebounded with wins against Xavier, Notre Dame and Wright State to climb above the .500 mark with a 4-3 record. Anthony Taylor, a 6-1 guard who averaged 3.9 points per game last year, has recovered from an injury last year (heel spurs/sore arches) and leads the team and ranks third in the MAC with 20.1 points per game. Taylor also is the MAC's second best free throw shooter with an 86.0% accuracy rate (43-of-50) and is seventh in field goal percentage at 47.7% (42-of-88). Taylor connected on 17-of-18 free throws versus Wright State. Fellow guard Rob Mestas is second in the MAC in assists (46) and third in steals per game (2.43). Miami continues to be tough at home, where it has won 17 consecutive games. In its three home wins this season, Miami has outscored its opponent in the second half by 9, 20 and 11 points, breaking away from two halftime ties and coming back from a four-point deficit (Notre Dame) for wins.
STONEROOK IS STRONG: Ohio's Shaun Stonerook not only ranked second the nation in rebounding (12.1) after last week's first NCAA reporting period, he also has posted double-doubles in eight of nine games.
LUX EARNS EARLY HONOR: Northern Illinois senior T.J. Lux garnered early season honors from Playboy magazine as the Huskie was honored as the recipient of this year's Anson Mount Scholar Athlete Award. Lux carries a 3.41 cumulative grade point average on a 4.00 scale. In addition, Lux was named to the magazine's All-America team along with Matt Santangelo (Gonzaga), Eduardo Najera (Oklahoma), Mateen Cleaves (Michigan State), Scoonie Penn (Ohio State), Chris Mims (Texas), Khalid El-Amin (Connecticut), Quentin Richardson (DePaul), Eric Chenworth (Kansas), A.J. Guyton (Indiana) and Hanno Mottola (Utah).
MAC AT 54: The Mid-American Conference is in its 54th season of men's basketball and third with a divisional format. The MAC Tournament will move to Cleveland for the first time ever in the year 2000. Following first round games on campus sites (March 1), Gund Arena will host quarterfinals (March 5), semifinals (March 6) and the championship game (March 8). Previous MAC Tournaments have been staged in Toledo, Detroit, Columbus, Rockford and Ann Arbor.