MAC Basketball TotalCasts
With five games left on each of their schedules, Akron (16-6, 10-3) and Kent (18-4, 10-3) are tied for first place in the MAC East Division. The game that may be the deciding factor is the Feb. 19 matchup with the Golden Flashes hosting the Zips. Earlier this year Akron beat Kent 69-64 in Akron. Third place Bowling Green (16-6, 8-4) still has games remaining with both Kent and Akron, as does fourth place Ohio (14-10, 7-5). Marshall (15-7, 7-6) and Miami (10-10, 6-6) continue pursuit of the upper echelon of the division. Following a road game at Bowling Green on Wednesday, Buffalo (5-17, 3-10) closes out by hosting Kent, Marshall, Ohio and Miami. The Bulls have a winning (3-2) MAC record at home.
The script for "How the West Was Won" has yet to be written. But judging by recent standards, look for Toledo to be the author of this final chapter. The Rockets (12-12, 6-7) are playing like champions, having won five games in a row since the return of All-MAC forward Greg Stempin, to tie Northern Illinois (12-10, 6-7) for third place. Ball State (14-7, 6-6) has won three in a row to pull into a tie with Eastern Michigan (12-9, 6-6) for first place. Western Michigan (8-13, 4-8) has lost three in a row to drop to fifth place. Central Michigan (5-16, 2-10) plays its next two games on the road but closes with three of its final four at home. This week's key matchup is Saturday's Toledo at Eastern Michigan contest.
Three MAC teams have current winning streaks of three or more games and two of those teams are in the West Division. Topping the list is Toledo with five straight wins, while Ball State and Kent both have won their last three in a row. Toledo's back-to-back wins at Kent and Miami were the team's first consecutive road wins in two years.
In Akron's 89-83 win at Western Michigan, nine different Zips played at least 12 minutes. The Broncos also had nine players that spent 13 or more minutes on the court. Foul trouble for both teams nessecistated extra minutes off the bench. With a total of 53 fouls called, the Zips' role players contributed 58 minutes and the Broncos' 89 minutes.
When Akron makes more free throws than its opponents, the Zips are 13-0. At Western Michigan, the Zips equaled their season high with 36 free throws made (46 attempts).
With All-MAC forward Greg Stempin back to add muscle underneath, the Toledo Rockets have streaked to five consecutive wins. Toledo's 5-0 record since Jan. 26 has propelled the Rockets to within a half-game of first place in the MAC West Division. Since Stempin returned to the lineup, UT has held opponents to 37.3% shooting from the floor (107-of-272). In the second half of Monday's 79-68 win against Bowling Green, Toledo held the league's most accurate field goal shooting team to just 34.6% (9-of-26) from the field.
HOUSE OF CARDS ON FIRE:
The Ball State Cardinals reestablished themselves as a MAC West contender with three consecutive wins to tie Eastern Michigan for the top spot. BSU plays its next two games at home (Western Michigan and Akron) before heading to Toledo for a Feb. 16 showdown with the Rockets. The Cardinals are 9-2 at home this season with both losses coming in overtime.
JACKSON IN ACTION:
Ball State's Patrick Jackson has helped spur the team's recent 3-0 record. Jackson, a sophomore who avreaged 4.9 ppg last year, produced back-to-back 19-point games in wins over Bowling Green and Buffalo. He also leads the team in field goal percentage (54.0%).
Despite having three of the MAC's top 13 rebounding leaders, Ball State is ninth in the league in rebounding margin (-1.0). Freshman Theron Smith is sixth (7.7), Josh Murray is ninth (7.1) and Lonnie Jones is 13th (6.1). Smith, a freshman, is second on the squad in scoring with a 12.8 average and hit for a career-high 23 against Marshall.
Northern Illinois' T.J. Lux became the school's career scoring leader by adding 18 to his total versus Ohio. Lux added 20 more in a 69-59 win versus Miami and ended the week with a new Huskies' standard of 1,876 points. Lux needs just 27 more rebounds to become NIU's all-time leader for that category. Bowling Green's Anthony Stacey needs just 63 points to become the Falcons' career leader. Stacey currently sits behind Howard Komives (1,834 from 1962-64).
DOLIBOA ON TARGET:
Bowling Green freshman Seth Doliboa was highly productive in his first start of his career. Doliboa played only 16 minutes in BG's 73-69 win versus Ohio, but was 4-of-4 from the floor, 2-of-2 from the free throw line and grabbed four rebounds. Doilboa had played only 16 minutes total in the first 10 MAC games of the season.
BG STANDS ALONE:
Bowling Green remains as the only MAC team with an unblemished home record. The Falcons are 9-0 overall and 6-0 in MAC play at Anderson Arena, and have won 13 in a row at home.
BG RECORD TO FALL:
The all-time scoring record of 1,834 by Bowling Green's Howard Komives should soon go by the wayside. Anthony Stacey needs just 63 points to pass Komives. Stacey has scored 20 or more points in three straight games and four of the last six.
Buffalo's Mike McKie amassed nine blocked shots this past week, including a MAC season-high tying six in one game (versus Toledo). With 21 blocks in the last five games, McKie has taken over the league lead with a 2.57 average, just ahead of defending title holder Lonnie Jones of Ball State (2.19).
CHAIR OF THE BOARDS....AND MORE:
Ohio's Shaun Stonerook has a handle on defending his MAC rebounding crown, which he won last year with 9.1 per game. Ranked second nationally in the latest statistical report, Stonerook leads the league with 12.0 rebounds a game. In addition to his rebounding skills, Stonerook ranks among MAC leaders in scoring (12th, 15.7 ppg), assists (7th at 4.08 apg), free throw pct. (14th at 72.0%) and steals (9th at 1.71 spg).
Central Michigan has lost 10 of its last 12 games since beginning MAC play, but has a number of individuals set to jump into the record book. Tim Kisner, with 269 assists, is ninth all-time at CMU. Dan Schell is already eighth in career blocked shots with 67.
The Miami RedHawks are nearing a streak they haven't approached since 1991, that of losing four in a row. And it won't be an easy task for the RedHawks as they take a three-game losing streak into Wednesday's home game versus East Division co-leader Akron. Earlier this year Miami beat the Zips in Akron, handing UA its only home loss to date. Miami went 12-0 overall at home last year but is 3-3 in MAC games at home this season. Four of Miami's six MAC losses have come by five points or less.
KAMSTRA HITS 200 THREES/1,000 POINTS:
Toledo guard Chad Kamstra registered his 200th career three-point goal last week and now has 205. Kamstra has 64 three-point goals this season and has a chance to set the school's single season record of 68 set in 1992-93 by Sam Brown. Kamstra also has 1,023 career points and teammate Greg Stempin needs 20 points to reach 1,000.
Y2K EAGLES YEAR?
In two of the last three years that Presidential elections were held, Eastern Michigan University won the MAC's post season tournament. The Eagles took the crowns in 1996 and 1988, while Miami won the 1992 tournament. EMU is tied with Ball State for first place in the West Division.
Should Marshall's Tamar Slay end the season as he is now as the MAC's leader in scoring and three-point field goals, he will join Eastern Michigan's Earl Boykins (1998) and Ohio's Dave Jamerson (1990) as the only other players in MAC history to lead the league in both categories in the same season. Slay could also become the first sophomore since Bonzi Wells of Ball State in 1996 to lead the MAC in scoring.
HOT 'N COLD:
After going 0-for-6 from the field against Miami, Marshall's J.R. VanHoose responded by connecting for 13 of his next 19 field goal attempts (68.4%). VanHoose won last year's shooting title with a 59.4% rate and goes into this week's game with a MAC second best 55.1% rate. Bowling Green's Len Matela leads the MAC at 64.2%.
STARTLING THE "EXPERTS":
Picked to finish in sixth place in the six-team MAC West Division in a preseason poll, Eastern Michigan is enjoying a successful run to date. The Eagles are tied with Ball State for first place in the West with a 6-6 mark and are 12-9 overall. Last year EMU, having lost all five of its starters from the previous campaign, was 5-20 overall and 5-13 in MAC play.
As always, there are a couple of surprises looking at MAC leaders in individual categories with just three weeks left in the season. Ohio's Dustin Ford leads the league in assist-turnover ratio at 3.04 after coming into the season with a career 1.08 average. Buffalo's Mike McKie is averaging 2.57 blocked shots per game in his first year in the league. Marshall's Tamar Slay, after posting 6.0 ppg last year, is at a MAC best 20.4 ppg, and has upped his 3-point goals per game from 0.8 to 3.32. BG's Len Matela paces the league in field goal percentage at 64.2% after shooting 54.0% last season.
Marshall and Buffalo both need one more win to equal last year's win total of 16 and 5, respectively ... Northern Illinois (from 6 to 12) and Eastern Michigan (from 5 to 12) have already surpassed their win totals from last year ... Ball State is just two wins shy of last year's 16 victories ... Kent has 41 wins the last two years, the second most in school history in back-to-back seasons behind the 42 in the 1988-89 and 1989-90 campaigns, when the Golden Flashes won 21 games each season ... with four teams within a half game of each other in the West Division, MAC historians may be having flashbacks to the 1980-81 season when five of the league's 10 teams tied for first place with 10-6 records ... those teams included three packed into this year's tight race - Ball State, Northern Illinois and Toledo, as well as Western Michigan (2 games behind its West Division leaders) and current East Division member Bowling Green ... should Toledo win the West Division, the Rockets will become the first MAC team in the three years of division play to win division titles back-to-back ... in 11 games since joining the EMU team, Antonio Gates, a transfer from Michigan State, is averaging 9.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game ... Kent's Trevor Huffman has made 23 consecutive free throws ... Marshall's Cornelius Jackson, a sophomore, reached the 300-assist plateau with 10 handouts versus Buffalo ... Jackson led the league in assists last season (5.4) and is at a MAC best 7.59 assists per game this season ... He missed four games at mid-season last year due to mono and is playing in the shadow of a Playboy All-American, but NIU Huskie sophomore Leon Rodgers is quietly having a breakout season with averages of 14.1 points (16th in MAC) and 7.1 rebounds (t-7th in MAC) ... Rodgers produced his fifth double-double this season with 18 points and 10 rebounds in the Huskies' 69-59 win versus Miami ... Ohio freshman Brandon Hunter had 15 points and 9 rebounds at NIU despite battling a case of mono ... Akron's Jami Bosley leads the league in free throw pct. (85.3%) as he did last year, and could become the first MAC player since Howard Komives in 1962 and 1963 to lead the league in free throw accuracy in consecutive seasons ... Bosley added his 26th career game with 20-plus points with 21 at Western Michigan ... Ohio's Dustin Ford has 18 games with one or no turnovers and 16 games with at least three assists ... Akron's George Phillips missed two games with a sprained big toe on his left foot but returned with 10 points at Western Michigan ... in a matchup of brothers in BG's 72-69 win over Ohio, the Falcons' Dave Esterkamp had 11 points while the Bobcats' Steve Esterkamp produced 8 ... CMU's Chad Pleiness averaged 18 points in three games last week, including 21 against Kent ... the Chippewas' 60-54 loss to the Golden Flashes give CMU three MAC losses by six points or less.