Miami stopped Akron's five-game winning streak overall and eight-game home winning streak with a 55-48 triumph Jan. 15 at the JAR. The RedHawks scored the last nine points of the game and held the Zips without a point over the final five minutes. That leaves the league with three undefeated teams at home - Marshall (8-0), Bowling Green (6-0) and Kent (6-0). Saturday features the first showdown of the year between the two teams predicted to rule the MAC this year when Akron hosts Kent in a 4:00 tip-off. Ohio stepped out of conference play for a midnight ESPN game versus #1 ranked Cincinnati. The Bobcats came up short 73-59 but trailed only by four at the half. Buffalo won its first MAC game of the year and snapped its eight-game losing streak with a win over Central Michigan.
Northern Illinois' 76-64 win at Ball State snapped the Huskies 12-game losing streak in Muncie and vaulted the team into second place in the West, just one-half game behind Eastern Michigan. The Eagles dropped their second league game in a row at Marshall. Ball State has lost three in a row going into Wednesday's game at Kent.Two other West teams captured their first league wins of 2000 - Western Michigan (91-82 versus Bowling Green) and Central Michigan (88-72 versus WMU). The Chippewas' triumph stopped the team's nine-game losing streak. Defending West champion Toledo has lost four in a row in league play, including one in overtime and another by one point.
HOT SHOTS I:
Bowling Green's Len Matela shot a school record by making 12-of-13 field goals (92.3%) in the Falcons' 93-76 win versus Toledo. The old record was 10-of-11 (90.9%) by Skip Howard in 1974 versus Eastern Michigan. BG leads the MAC in field goal percentage at 51.2%.
HOT SHOTS II:
Central Michigan's Tim Kisner made 12-of-12 free throws and the Chippewas made 26-of-27 (96.3%) in an 88-72 win against Western Michigan. CMU ended a nine-game losing streak with its second consecutive win over the Broncos. Anthony Taylor sparked Miami's 2-0 week by making 20-of-21 (95.2%) free throws in wins over Akron and Ball State.
HOT SHOTS III:
Take away Keith McLeod's 2-for-10 from the field and Bowling Green made 70.4% (31-of-44) in its 93-78 win versus Toledo. Overall, BG still made a more than respectable 61.1% (33-of-54) from the field, including a combined 23-of-28 (82.1%) from the frontcourt of Dave Esterkamp (5-of-6), Anthony Stacey (6-of-9) and Len Matela (12-of-13).
FOUR FOR 1,000:
When Akron's Ryan Andrick adds 16 more points to his career total, he will become the fourth current Zip player to reach 1,000 for his career. Andrick will join teammates Jimmal Ball, George Phillips and Jami Bosley in the 1,000-point club. Those four, along with junior Bruce Weinkein, have combined to start 395 games in their careers.
As if back-to-back triple overtime games on Jan. 8 and 12 weren't enough, after a "normal" regulation game on Saturday, the Ball State Cardinals play four games in eight days. Among the challenge will be road games at Kent, Marshall and Ohio, where the three teams have a combined 18-1 home record this season.
60 MINUTE-PLUS MAN:
Ball State senior guard Duane Clemens has averaged nearly 47 minutes a game in the Cardinals last four games. He has played 187 of a possible 195 minutes, including a school-record 54 of 55 minutes versus Eastern Michigan on Jan. 8. Prior to the EMU game, he played 44 of 45 minutes against Toledo on Jan. 5. On Jan. 12 at Miami, Clemens logged 52 of 55 minutes and Saturday versus Northern Illinois, he played 37 of 40 minutes.
Ball State point guard Mickey Hosier leads the MAC in assist-turnover ratio (3.0-1.0) and has committed just 18 turnovers while dishing out 54 assists. In his last 24 games, Hosier has a 3.6-1 ratio (87 assists-24 turnovers).
FALCONS LEAGUE'S HOTTEST TEAM:
Bowling Green recently had its five-game winning streak snapped in a 91-82 loss at Western Michigan, however the Falcons remain the hottest shooting team in the MAC. In its last five games, BG has made 56.8% (159-of-280) of its field goal attempts to produce a league-best 51.2% effort for the season. The Falcons rank third in the MAC in free throw percentage at 751.% (266-of-354).
STACEY NEARS RECORD:
BG senior Anthony Stacey needs three steals to set a school record. David Jenkins, with 201 thefts, is the school's current career leader.
Kent has used not only a quality bench but basic basketball fundamentals in forging a 12-2 record. The Golden Flashes lead the MAC in turnover margin (+5.93), steals (151) and free throw percentage (76.2%), rank second in scoring offense (79.9) and scoring defense (66.7) and third in assists (232).
SUPER SUB AND MORE:
Kent sophomore Trevor Huffman has emerged as one of the top sixth men in the nation. The 6-1 guard is the only player in the country to lead his team in scoring (13.4 ppg) and assists (4.6 apg) despite not starting a game. Huffman has scored in double figures in all but two games this season and has registered five or more assists nine times. Kent's bench strength also includes Geoffrey Vaughn and Rashaun Warren, who have combined to hit 62.1% from the field and 81.5% from the free throw line. Vaughn is 61.3% (27-of-44) from the field and 72.3% (11-of-15) from the line) while Warren is 63.6% (14-of-22) from the floor and 91.7% (11-of-12) from the line.
Marshall's 13-2 start is the best in head coach Greg White's four years. Marshall leads the league in scoring (88.1) and features two of the top three individual point producers in Tamar Slay (first at 20.6 ppg) and J.R. VanHoose (third at 19.6). The Herd's Cornelius Jackson has a league-high 116 assists, which is 21 more than anyone else in the MAC. Slay also leads the conference in three-point goals with 3.2 per game. In Marshall's two games last week, Slay scored 46 points in only 50 minutes on the court.
IRON MAN MESTAS:
With the Miami RedHawks having played three overtime games this year, including one triple-overtime, guard Rob Mestas is averaging 40.8 minutes a contest. Mestas has played 40 or more minutes 18 times in his career.
Miami's 55-48 win at Akron not only stopped the Zips' eight-game home winning streak this season, it also showed why the RedHawks lead the MAC in scoring defense, allowing just 63.2 points a game. Miami held the Zips, who averaged 77.6 points a game, to no points the last five minutes. Akron shot a cool 34.0% (17-of-50) from the field to run Miami's streak of holding an opponent below 50.0% shooting to 20 games. Miami has led the MAC in scoring defense four of the last five years (all except 1998 when Toledo led).
HUSKIES PULL TOGETHER:
After enduring a four-game losing streak, the Northern Illinois Huskies have put together back-to-back wins for the first time since a three-game winning streak from Dec. 14-21. Following a last-second shot by Mike Brown to beat Western Michigan 68-67 on Jan. 8, NIU won its first game at Muncie since 1976, a span of 12 games, on Jan. 15 with a 76-64 triumph over Ball State. NIU moved into second place in the MAC West and has already almost doubled last year's win total of six games. The Huskies made 56.6% (26-of-46) of its field goal attempts at Ball State for the best shooting percentage by the team in its last 63 games.
Ohio's Shaun Stonerook leads the MAC, by a wide margin, with 13 games in double figures in points and rebounds. Next on the list with five double-doubles is Marshall's J.R. VanHoose. Stonerook leads the MAC in rebounding (12.3) and is attempting to become the ninth player in league history to win consecutive rebounding titles. The last to do it was Ohio's Gary Trent in 1994 and 1995. The first to accomplish the feat was Marshall's Charlie Slack in 1955 and 1956. Slack's 25.6 rebounds per game in 1955 is an NCAA record. Slack, who wore #17, will have his number retired at halftime of the Miami at Marshall game on Jan. 26.
Toledo Rocket forward Greg Stempin, a first team All-MAC selection last year and a preseason All-MAC player, was diagnosed as having a hyperextension and ligament sprain to his right elbow after going down hard in the first half of the game at Ball State on Jan. 5. Stempin will likely miss the next three weeks. The 6-9 Stempin was averaging 16.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game for the Rockets. Toledo has gone 0-4 since Stempin was injured.
BARKSDALE IS BACK:
Tony Barksdale returned to the Western Michigan team after a four-game absence. Barksdale, who earlier this year was leading the MAC in scoring, scored 11 points in the loss at Central Michigan. In 10 games he is averaging 19.3 points and 3.1 assists. Last year Barksdale led the team with 17.2 ppg.
THIS WEEK'S BUZZER BEATER:
Akron's Andy Hipsher gave his team a 62-60 win at Ohio with a three-point field goal with just 1.7 seconds left. The freshman is the son of Zips' head coach Dan Hipsher. The first-year Zip player is averaging 7.9 points and 4.5 rebounds a game in a reserve role. He is also displaying a nice shooting touch, averaging 55.7% (44-of-79) from the field, 45.5% (10-of-22) from three-point range and 75.7% (28-of-37) from the free throw line.
Since joining the Eastern Michigan team four games ago, Antonio Gates, a transfer from Michigan State, has averaged 12.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Gates, a 6-3 forward, has games of 19 points and 12 rebounds at Marshall and 16 points and 12 rebounds at Ball State. Gates is shooting 59.4% (19-of-32) from the floor.