Saturday's MAC Men's Basketball Results

Updated 12/1/2013
Saturday's MAC Men's Basketball Results
Ohio 81, Evansville 59 
Buffalo 65, Delaware State 55
Cleveland State 78, Ball State 55 
Central Michigan 66, Jacksonville State 61 
Nebraska 63, Northern Illinois 58 
 
Stories courtesy of MAC Sports Information Departments
 
Ohio 81, Evansville 59
ATHENS, Ohio- The Ohio University men's basketball team (6-1) clinched the Ohio Classic title and improved to 5-0 at home this season with an 81-59 win over visiting Evansville (5-2) Saturday afternoon in the Convocation Center.
 
The Bobcats finished the Ohio Classic with a 4-0 record to capture the title of the round-robin event. The Green & White are now 6-1 for the second-straight season.
 
Senior Nick Kellogg (Westerville, Ohio) led all Ohio scorers with 13 points and connected on 5-of-9 attempts from the floor (3-of-4 from the 3-point range).
 
Teammates Ricardo Johnson (Covington, Ky.), Javarez Willis (Homer, La.) and Travis Wilkins (Springfield, Mo.) also finished in double figures as they put up 12, 12 and 10 points respectively. Ohio held a 35-14 edge in bench scoring for the game.
 
As a team, Ohio shot 48.4 percent from the field and limited Evansville to just 37.7 percent from the floor. The Bobcats have held five of their opponents to less than 40 percent shooting this season.
 
The Bobcats also limited their opponent to under 30 percent shooting from beyond the arc for the fifth time this season. Ohio held the Purple Aces to a 21.4 percent (3-14) clip, a season-low by a Bobcat opponent. Evansville had come into the game averaging 51.8 percent shooting from the floor and 45.1 percent from 3-point land.
 
The Bobcats also held the nation’s fifth-leading scorer – D.J. Balentine (27.0 ppg) – to just 15 points in the contest.
 
The Bobcats were +9 (40-31) on the glass in the game and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds. Senior Jon Smith (Grove City, Ohio) and junior Maurice Ndour (Mbour, Senegal) each pulled down a team-best six rebounds in the contest.
 
Ohio made five of its first seven shots and led 16-8 at the 14:05 mark of the first half after a transition dunk from Johnson. Over the next seven minutes Ohio doubled up the Aces (14-7), and a jump shot from Smith capped an 8-0 Ohio run that extended the Bobcats' edge to 17 (30-13) at the 7:19 mark of the first half.
 
A nice drive and finish, followed by a 3-pointer from Willis gave Ohio a 42-24 lead, and the Bobcats entered the half ahead, 42-26.
 
Ohio limited Evansville to just 36 percent shooting (9-25) in the half and forced 10 turnovers that lead to 12 Ohio points. Smith led the Bobcats with eight points in the stanza.
 
The Green & White extended their lead to 19 (52-33) on a coast-to-coast drive from Willis and went ahead by 23 (61-38) at the 11:52 mark of the second half after back-to-back triples from Kellogg. Ohio pushed the lead to 34 (77-43) after two 3-pointers from Wilkins.
 
Evansville could not move closer than 20 points for the remainder of the contest.
 
The Bobcats have a week off before hitting the road to take on new Horizon League member Oakland (0-7) on Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. in Rochester, Mich. The game will be broadcast live on the Ohio IMG Sports Network, with live video also available on the Horizon League Network. Ohio leads the all-time series with the Golden Grizzlies, 4-1.
 
Buffalo 65, Delaware State 55 
BUFFALO, NY – Freshman Shannon Evans scored a career-high 13 points to lead the University at Buffalo men's basketball team to a 65-55 win over Delaware State at Alumni Arena on Saturday afternoon. It was the Bulls' third straight win to improve to 3-2 on the season.
 
UB featured a very balanced scoring attack. Will Regan and Jarod Oldham each scored 12 points and Javon McCrea and Joshua Freelove finished with nine points, apiece. McCrea had his consecutive game streak of scoring in double-figures snapped at 26.
 
Leading, 34-33, with 15:42 left, the Bulls mounted an 8-0 scoring run, bookended by three-pointers from Evans and fellow freshman Deyshonee Much. Following another three-pointer by Freelove, UB really clamped down on defense. The Bulls came up with steals on three of Delaware State's next four possessions and a fast break dunk by Evans extended the UB lead to 53-40, its largest of the game.
 
Buffalo had five blocks, 11 steals and forced 17 Hornet turnovers. Evans had four steals and Oldham added three. McCrea had three blocks and tied Regan with a game-high eight rebounds.
 
Delaware State really slowed down the pace of play and it seemed to frustrate the Bulls at times. 
 
"That is their style, based on their team, that they can stay in games and give them a chance to win," head coach Bobby Hurley said. "These guys [Evans and Oldham] were terrific defensively, seven steals between the two of them and they were able to create some problems."
 
The Bulls will next host St. Bonaventure at Alumni Arena next Saturday at 2:00 pm.
 
Cleveland State 78, Ball State 55
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Ball State men’s basketball team hung around for much of the night despite its worst shooting performance of the season, but Cleveland State pulled away down the stretch for a 78-55 victory Saturday at the Wolstein Center.
 
Chris Bond led the Cardinals with 17 points, while Jesse Berry added 10 to become the 27th member of Ball State’s 1,000-point club.
 
Cleveland State (4-3) shot 63 percent for the game, and Ball State (2-4) struggled to defend the Vikings’ backcourt duo of Trey Lewis and Bryn Forbes who combined for 38 points on 12-for-16 shooting. Lewis led all players with 23 points.
 
“I thought it was a good lesson for our guards,” Ball State coach James Whitford said. “Those two guys can really play. Really good guards have been a problem for us. That’s an area where we were exposed tonight, and it’s something we have to answer the bell on.”
 
Ball State made just four of its first 19 shots in the game and trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half before picking its offense up in the closing minutes. The Cardinals hit their final five shots from the floor and pulled within seven points at the break at 39-32.
 
A 3-pointer from Zavier Turner on the opening possession of the second half brought the Cardinals within four points, but they could get no closer.
 
The Cleveland State lead hovered in single digits throughout the opening 10 minutes of the second half, and it was a 59-50 game with 8:37 to play. But the Vikings went on a 9-0 run to extend their lead to 20 and proceeded to out-score Ball State 19-5 the rest of the way.
 
Cleveland State double teamed Ball State big man Majok Majok all night and limited him to just five shot attempts. The senior center did manage to haul in a game-high 11 rebounds, reaching double-digit boards for the fifth straight game.
 
“Their pressure hurt us and it took us out of our pace,” Whitford said. “If we would have been able to play faster, I thought we would have minimized their size advantage a little bit. Majok has been very unselfish passing the ball, but we shot 5-for-17 from 3 and I thought some of those were pretty good looks. When they double team him, we have to make them pay a price.”
 
Ball State shot 36 percent from the floor for the game. Turner finished with nine points, including seven in a stretch of less than five minutes as the Cardinals made their run spanning the two halves. Majok scored seven on the night.
 
Forbes and Jon Harris each scored 15 for Cleveland State, while Anton Grady added 11 to give the Vikings four scorers in double figures.
 
Ball State will now return home to continue its difficult non-conference stretch with its only home game in a five-week span. The Cardinals will welcome Valparaiso to Worthen Arena for a 7 p.m. tipoff Wednesday.
 
Central Michigan 66, Jacksonville State 61
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Central Michigan shot 60 percent from the field and had a plus-seven advantage in rebounding but had to hold off visiting Jacksonville State late to claim a 66-61 win, the Chippewas third consecutive, on Saturday night at McGuirk Arena.
 
Chris Fowler led three Chippewas in double figures, scoring a game-high 21 points. The sophomore guard shot 73 percent from the field and made 5-of-7 free throws. Freshman guard Braylon Rayson added 11 while sophomore forward John Simons had 10 points.
 
Blake Hibbitts pulled down a team-high five rebounds in addition to scoring eight points, including nailing a clutch three-pointer late for the second straight game.
 
Up 56-53, when just three-plus minutes earlier Central Michigan (5-3) had a 14-point lead, Hibbitts halted an 11-0 Jacksonville State run with a three-pointer at the 3:45 mark and swung the momentum back in the Chippewas’ favor. The sophomore forward also sunk two free throws with five seconds remaining to seal the CMU victory, its fourth at home in the month of November.
 
Hibbitts was also the hero late in Tuesday’s win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, draining a trey with 13 seconds left to give CMU the lead for good. 
 
Runs by both the Chippewas and the Gamecocks marked the first half. After back-and-forth play early on resulted in a 7-6 JSU lead, unanswered buckets by Fowler, Rayshawn Simmons and Nick Carlos, gave CMU some breathing room at 12-7. Jacksonville State (3-6) responded with an 8-0 stretch, which included two three-pointers from Darion Rackley, to go up 15-12 with 9:14 remaining before the break.
 
Down 18-16, Central Michigan broke out with a 9-0 run to forge its largest lead of the game to that point at 25-18. A Rayson jumper, a three-pointer by Simons and two buckets by Fowler accounted for the CMU scoring. JSU was able to whittle the Chippewa advantage to two points with over a minute to play but a Fowler layup gave CMU a halftime lead of 29-25.
 
CMU shot hot out of the break and quickly upped its lead to 10 at 40-30, getting scores from five different players, capped off by a layup by DeAndray Buckley with 15:57 to play.
 
For the next nine minutes, CMU maintained its advantage and even increased it to a game-high 14 points with a Rayson three-pointer with 7:09 remaining.
 
But Jacksonville State would not go quietly and an 11-0 run had the Gamecocks right back into the game at 56-53 with 3:59 on the clock. That’s when Hibbitts took center stage and connected on his key three-pointer. Fowler was also pivotal down the stretch, hitting a jumper and sinking two free throws to keep JSU at bay in the final minutes. 
 
“We knew that Jacksonville State coming in was going to be a pretty talented team coming from the Ohio Valley Conference,” said CMU head coach Keno Davis. “They may have a more talented team than they have had in a while and I am very proud of our team to be able to tough out that win when the momentum seemed to be in the last few minutes all in their direction.” 
 
CMU outrebounded Jacksonville State, 26-19, including a 19-11 advantage on the defensive end. The Chippewas shot a season-low 11 free throws but made eight (73%). 
 
Rackley and Rico Sanders led Jacksonville State with 10 points each. 
 
CMU will be back on the court one week from today, traveling to face SIU Edwardsville (1-6) for an 8 p.m. ET game on Saturday, Dec. 7. The Chippewas’ meeting with the Cougars will be the first in program history. 
 
Central Michigan men’s basketball is on Twitter. Follow head coach Keno Davis (@CoachKenoDavis) and the program’s official Twitter account (@CMUMensBBall) to get insider news and information and team updates. The Chippewas are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CMUMensBBall.
 
Nebraska 63, Northern Illinois 58
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Trailing by 13 in the second half, the Northern Illinois University men’s basketball team had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds but came up just short, falling, 63-58, to Nebraska on Saturday afternoon at Pinnacle Bank Arena. 
 
Redshirt junior Jordan Threloff (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb/Illinois State) came off the bench to score a career-best 18 points; freshman guard Dontel Highsmith (Dowagiac, Mich./Dowagiac) added a career-best 13 points. 
 
“We were down, I thought we had good shots, we just didn’t make them early but it never felt like they got away from us, even though we were down by 13,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “I thought we outplayed them the first 10 minutes of the game, even though we were down at halftime. We hung in there and got a big boost from Threloff, they were having trouble guarding him inside. 
 
“We were a few possessions here or there from pulling off an upset. I thought we responded great in the second half, credit our guys, we had a chance with eight seconds to go to force overtime. Our guys battled, we didn’t back down, we just needed one more bounce.”
 
After a pair of free throws from Threloff with 14:45 left in the contest, the Nebraska (5-2) lead was just eight, 43-35, but the Cornhuskers scored the next five to extend the lead to 48-35, their largest of the contest
 
Threloff scored the next six points in the contest to bring the Huskies back within seven, 48-41, just past the midway point of the second half. 
 
NIU (2-4) still trailed by seven after a Threloff jumper with 6:17 to play. The jumper sparked an 8-1 Huskie run that pulled NIU within a pair, 57-55. Senior Aksel Bolin (Asker, Norway/Asker) made a pair of free throws, redshirt junior Pete Rakocevic (Chicago, Ill./Wilbraham & Monson/Sacramento State) had a bucket and sophomore guard Daveon Balls (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) capped the burst with two from the charity stripe with just 1:18 to play.
 
A basket by Leslee Smith pushed the Nebraska lead back to four, 59-55, until Highsmith curled around a screen and drained a triple to bring NIU within one with just 8.3 seconds remaining. 
 
After Nebraska hit a pair of free throws with 7.6 seconds left to take a three-point lead, NIU had a look at a triple to tie game but the shot rimmed out and the Cornhuskers escaped with the victory. 
 
Deverell Biggs led Nebraska with 18 points; Smith added 13 and Terran Petteway chipped in 12 for the Cornhuskers who had won their previous three home games by an average of 22 points.
 
The Huskies shot 75 percent (15-of-20) from the free-throw line in the second half while the Cornhuskers shot just 56.5 percent (13-of-23). NIU and Nebraska each grabbed 38 rebounds and committed 16 turnovers in the contest. 
 
NIU got off to a good start in its first road game of the year, HIghsmith and senior guard Antone Christian (Nashville, Tenn./Martin Luther King Magnet) each connected on triples from the wing, giving NIU an early 8-2 lead
 
The Huskies continued to lead through the early minutes of the contest, a basket by Threloff gave NIU a 16-12 advantage with 12:08 to play in the first half. Nebraska responded with a 12-2 run to lead, 24-18, with just over nine minutes to play in the half. 
 
A basket by HIghsmith and a free throw from junior Aaron Armstead (Chicago, Ill./Hales Franciscan/San Jose City College) brought the Huskies back within three, 24-21, but the Cornhuskers used a 9-3 burst to push the lead to 33-24 with a little under four minutes to play in the half. 
 
Nebraska still led by nine until a put-back by Rakocevic on NIU’s final possession brought the Huskies within seven, 35-28, at the break. 
 
The Huskies will return to action on Thursday, Dec. 5, when they host Dartmouth at the NIU Convocation Center. Game time against the Big Green is scheduled for 7 p.m., and the contest will be NIU’s lone home game in the month of December.