Toledo leads the MAC West while Three teams (Marshall, Kent State, Ohio) are tied for the top spot in the MAC East going into this week's action.
MAC East Division Notes
Akron (5-8, 2-2 MAC East): The Zips went 1-1 last week and are still looking for their first back-to-back wins of the 2000-2001 season. The Zips have went 19 games without posting successive wins, dating back to last year. The last time UA had two wins in a row was Feb. 2 and 5, 2000, against Central Michigan and Western Michigan. In crucial East Division matchups, Akron hosts Bowling Green Wednesday before traveling to play at Ohio on Saturday. The Zips play three of their next four games on the road. Junior guard Rashon Brown established Akron career-highs in successive games with 19 points in the 79-64 win over Western Michigan, and 20 points in the 77-68 loss at Marshall. Brown went 4-for-6 from three-point range at Marshall. Akron leads the MAC in three-point field goal shooting at 40.2% (74-of-184) and is third in three-point field goal defense at 33.0% (65-of-197). Nate Schindewolf paces the MAC in three-point accuracy at 52.1% (25-of-48) and ranked 12th nationally in the latest NCAA report (1/8). Schindewolf, who averaged 3.7 points per game his first three years as a Zip, has emerged to lead the team with his 15.8 ppg, which also ranks 11th among all MAC players. Schindewolf's 86.8% (59-of-68) rate from the free throw line is the third best in the MAC and is a challenge to the Zips' single-season mark of 88.7% set in 1996-97 by Scott Gooden (63-of-71).
Bowling Green (6-7, 2-2 MAC East): A 76-73 loss at Toledo prevented the Falcons from posting back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Junior center Len Matela scored a team-high 22 points against the Rockets in the 143rd meeting between the schools (UT leads 73-70), that coming off a 23 point, 13 rebound and career-high four assist game versus Buffalo. Matela made 72.7% (16-of-22) from the field and 86.7% (13-of-15) from the free throw line for the week. Matela's 58.7% (74-of-126) field goal rate is second in the MAC, trailing teammate Trent Jackson's 59.5% (66-of-111). BGSU is the only MAC team shooting .500 or above from the field, leading the league at 50.8% (378-of-744). BGSU also has the league's top team in assists (16.3 per game), scoring offense (83.6 ppg), and is second in steals (7.9) and free throw percentage (75.7%). The Falcons also feature the league's top assists producer in Brandon Pardon at 7.1 assists per game and 92 overall. Pardon ranked seventh in the most recent (1/8) national rankings. Jackson leads the league in steals at 2.1 per game.
Buffalo (2-10, 0-5 MAC East): The Bulls dropped games to Bowling Green and Central Michigan, extending their losing streak in MAC games to 13, dating back to last year. UB has not won a MAC game since back-to-back wins over Akron and Western Michigan on Jan. 24 and 26, respectively, last year. The Bulls were dealt a severe loss on Jan. 10 when junior forward Jason Robinson was declared academically ineligible for the second semester. Robinson, in his first year with the Bulls after transferring from Seward County (Kan.) Community College, had started seven of the Bulls' first 10 games and was the team's second-leading scorer at 15.1 ppg. Robinson's 6.1 rebounds per game led the Bulls and he ranked in the top 15 in the MAC in both scoring and rebounding. In the loss to CMU, the Bulls shot 52.8% from the field and placed three players in double figures, Louis Campbell and Robert Brown with 18, and Damien Foster with 17. Brown's 16.2 ppg and 6.1 rpg leads the team in those respective categories. UB continues its schedule with five of its next seven games on the road before closing out with six of eight at home.
Kent State (10-5, 3-1 MAC East): The Golden Flashes rebounded from a two-point loss at Ohio with a 94-68 win at home over Northern Illinois. Trevor Huffman averaged 19.0 points, 7.5 assists and 2.0 steals in the two games, including a perfect 10-of-10 from the charity stripe. The junior guard has 273 career assists to rank eighth all-time at KSU. The Golden Flashes shot a sizzling 56.1% (37-of-66) from the field versus NIU but still rank 11th in the league overall at 42.3% (367-of-867). KSU continues to win with its ball handling skills as evidenced by its league-leading turnover margin at +6.2 and assist-turnover ratio of 1.12 (191 assists/170 turnovers). Demetric Shaw ranks among MAC leaders in rebounding (11th, 6.2), free throw percentage (2nd, 89.3%) and steals (2nd, 1.9), while Kyrem Massey is fourth in field goal accuracy at 51.3%. KSU was the first East Division team to reach 10 wins this year. In doing so, KSU pushed its record the last two-plus seasons to 56-20.
Marshall (9-3, 3-1 MAC East): Marshall has been without the services of shooting guard Travis Young (injured right foot) the last six games but has went 4-2 during that time. Young (14.5 ppg) is listed as day-to-day per his return. J.R. VanHoose continues to pile up the numbers as he recorded his third and fourth consecutive double-doubles last week with 18 points and 15 rebounds against West Virginia and 16 points and 12 boards against Akron. VanHoose has eight such games on the season and 27 in his career. VanHoose, who was named the Capital Classic Player of the Game versus WVU, leads the MAC in rebounds with 11.1 per game while teammate Tamar Slay has the MAC's top scoring average at 19.1 ppg. Slay is 12 points shy of reaching 1,000 for his career and could soon join VanHoose and Travis Young in the 1,000-point club. The Herd leads the league in field goal percentage defense, allowing foes to make just 39.0% of their shots, this a year after finishing ninth in the league at 43.8%. Marshall has not permitted any team to reach 50.0% from the field this year with WVU's 46.0% the highest. Marshall also has the league's best scoring margin at +8.5 and is second in scoring offense (77.7 ppg) and third in scoring defense (69.2 ppg allowed). Marshall's win over Akron upped the Herd's home record to 8-0.
Miami (6-9, 2-2 MAC East) The RedHawks' 62-60 overtime loss at Ohio on Saturday snapped a season-high two-game winning streak. Following Wednesday's game at Marshall, the RedHawks return home for four consecutive games (Buffalo, WMU, Akron, Ball State). Junior Doug Davis tallied a career-high 23 points at Ohio and upped his season scoring average to 10.3 ppg. Davis's 6-of-12 shooting from three-point range last week increased his season total to 45.5% (10-of-22). Alex Shorts leads Miami in scoring (15.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg) in the team's first four MAC games. Although the RedHawks are struggling with their shooting percentages (41.5%, 12th in the MAC), their low turnover total (11.4 per game) and big advantage on the offensive glass (163 to 113) are giving Miami more opportunities at scoring than its opponent. The RedHawks have attempted 109 more shots than their opponents (788 to 679). Regardless, Miami's 58.6 ppg is its lowest season scoring average since the 1950-51 campaign. Miami is allowing a MAC low of 59.3 ppg, four points better than any other team. Despite its MAC worst 29.1% three-point shooting overall, Miami is at 38.2%, sixth best, in conference only games.
Ohio (8-5, 3-1 MAC East): Two MAC wins by two points in each game vaulted the Bobcats into a first-place tie in the East Division. Ohio has won six of its last seven games and three in a row. Saturday's 62-60 overtime win against Miami moved Bobcat mentor Larry Hunter into second place all-time at Ohio, and into a tie for fourth place on the all-time MAC coaching ledger. Hunter is 498-218 all-time, including his 305-76 record at Wittenberg (1976-89). Ohio's wins last week were fueled by 25 points in each game by MAC East Division Player of the Week Brandon Hunter, and by a career-high eight blocked shots versus Miami by Patrick Flomo. Flomo's 3.5 blocked shots per game and 45 overall blocks leads the league. In addition, it was Flomo's fifth game this year with five or more blocks. Hunter is seventh in scoring (16.8 ppg), fourth in rebounding (9.9) and fifth in field goal percentage (50.0%) in the MAC. Since a Dec. 16 loss at Western Michigan, Ohio has won three consecutive MAC games, and won three straight games on its opponents home floor (Oakland, Arizona State, Ball State), but did lose to Pepperdine at a neutral site (Tempe, Az.) during that time.
MAC West Division Notes
Ball State (6-6, 1-2 MAC West) The Cardinals are 0-2 at home in MAC games and 1-0 on the road. BSU has a chance to rebound quickly from Saturday's 76-60 loss to Western Michigan as they host Northern Illinois Monday night. That loss came despite double doubles from Theron Smith (22 points, 13 rebounds) and Lonnie Jones (13, 10). Smith leads the Cardinals in scoring at 17.1 ppg and in rebounding at 10.2, ranking fifth and third, respectively, in the MAC. Cedric Moodie missed the first eight games with a broken foot suffered in practice but has returned to average 16.5 points and 6.3 rebounds in four games. Billy Lynch, a wide receiver on the BSU football team and son of football head coach Bill Lynch, has started the last eight games at guard. Lynch is second on the team with 39 assists and has a 2.2-1.0 assist-turnover ratio. Teamed with fellow guard Patrick Jackson (54 assists, 1.86-1.00 ratio), BSU's two guards have 93 assists and just 47 turnovers. Following the NIU contest, the Cardinals have road games at Toledo and Bowling Green. BSU is 20-5 versus the Huskies in Muncie and lead the overall series 31-23.
Central Michigan (8-4, 2-1 MAC West) Junior David Webber became the 18th player in CMU history to reach the 1,000 career point plateau in the Buffalo game. Webber ranks second in the MAC in scoring (19.0) and first in conference games (24.3). Webber poured in a season-high 25 points at Miami on Wednesday against the MAC's top defense. He was 6-for-8 from three-point land in the game. The guard then upped his season-high to 27 in the win over UB. He was 10-for-10 from the line in that game. Webber has scored 20-plus points in four straight games heading into this week and seven games total. CMU sophomore Mike Manciel has been slowed lately with a foot injury. It is the same foot he broke last season forcing him to miss the year. Manciel did not start against Bowling Green or Miami. Central Michigan has shot better than 50.0% from the floor in four straight games now. That string started with a season-high .660 mark against Tri-State. Central is 7-1 when shooting better than 45.0% from the floor with the lone loss coming at Miami. CMU shot 51.3% from the floor in the loss to Miami last week while the RedHawks hit their shots at a 50.0% clip. Key to CMU's success this season has been bench play. Central's reserves have outscored and outrebounded the opponents in five straight games. The Chippewa bench is averaging 22.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game compared to their opponents' marks of 18.9 ppg and 8.8 rpg. Chad Pleiness scored a season-high 18 points in the win over Buffalo while grabbing seven rebounds. Pleiness also leads the MAC in free throw shooting at 92.7% and could become the first Chippewa since Melvin McLaughlin in 1983 to lead the MAC from the line.
Eastern Michigan (2-10, 0-3 MAC West) Tyson Radney's seven-rebound performance in Wednesday's 74-55 loss to Toledo dropped him into second place for the first time all season in the MAC rebounding race with a 10.8 average. Freshman point guard Ricky Cottrill will miss the Marshall game Monday, his second in a row, while working on academics. A 6-3 playmaker from Poca, W.Va., Cottrill has emerged to pace EMU in scoring at 12.3 ppg, including a career-high 23 in a 69-66 loss to Ball State. Cottrill sank 6-of-9 three-point attempts versus the Cardinals and is averaging 15.1 ppg in the last eight outings after breaking in with 4.7 ppg his first three games. Melvin Hicks played just 28 minutes last season but through the first 12 contests this year has accumulated 354 minutes, second only to C.J. Grantham's 401. Without Cottrill in the lineup, Grantham's 11.0 ppg leads the team with Hicks at 10.8 ppg. EMU will be out to snap its four-game losing streak when it hosts Marshall.
Northern Illinois (2-10, 1-2 MAC West) NIU is at Ball State Monday for its second consecutive MAC raod game. The Huskies are coming off a 94-68 loss at Kent State on Wednesday, the team's fourth consecutive loss. The Huskies shot 45.0% (9-of-20) from three-point range but only 42.9% (15-of-35) from two-point range while allowing the Golden Flashes a 56.1% success rate (37-of-65). Leon Rodgers is averaging a team-best and MAC fourth best 17.4 ppg, but shot an uncharacteristic 3-of-11 from the field at KSU. Rodgers' 49.7% shooting rate this season is the eighth best in the conference and he ranks 10th in rebounding at 6.8 per game. Mike Brown joins Rodgers in double figures on NIU's scoring list at 13.1 ppg. Two freshman, Marcus Smallwood and Al Sewasciuk, are getting a chance to play. Smallwood, a 6-6 forward, is eighth in the league with 1.17 blocked shots per game (14 overall). Sewasciuk tied Rodgers for Huskie scoring honors with 14 at Kent State to boost his season average to 7.2 ppg. Matt Nelson, a 6-9 junior, ranks sixth in the league in blocked shots (1.25, 15 total) and 16th in rebounding (5.8 rpg). Following the BSU contest, the Huskies will host Eastern Michigan (Wed.) and Toledo (Sat.).
Toledo (12-3, 4-0 MAC West) Toledo's current regular season winning streak of 14 conference games is third best in the nation behind Penn's 23 and Utah State's 20. The Rockets have won 23 of their last 27 games dating back to last year and have won five in a row going into their game Wednesday at home against Ball State. The MAC record for consecutive conference wins is 16 set by Miami from the 1956-57 season through 1958-69. Saturday the Rockets conquered MAC rival Bowling Green, 76-73 behind a season-high 23 from Greg Stempin. Stempin also pulled down 13 rebounds, blocked three shots, made two steals and had two assists in 39 minutes. Nick Moore cashed in on a career-high 20 points, including the game-clinching free throws with 13 seconds left. Moore was 6-of-6 from the line and 4-of-9 from three-point range. Moore's three-point shooting of 48.1% (39-of-81) ranks second in the league. A 6-1 guard, Moore has made 47.5% (67-of-141) of his career three-point attempts. Stempin's steady play has him among the MAC leaders in scoring (3rd, 17.9 ppg), rebounding (8th, 7.7) and field goal percentage (8th, 49.7%). Freshman Terry Reynolds is averaging 15.0 ppg (16th in MAC) and his 78 assists is the third highest total in the league. Reynolds' name is found on the list for steals (t-7th, 1.5 per game) and three-point goals per game (13th, 1.87). The stingy UT defense is allowing foes just a 29.3% success rate from three-point range, best in the MAC.
Western Michigan (2-12, 2-3 MAC West) The Broncos have shook off their 0-9 non-league mark to forge a 2-3 MAC record, including a 76-70 road win at Ball State on Saturday. Jon Powell led four players in double figures with 23 points. Powell was joined by Robby Collum with 17, Steve Reynolds 13 and Reggie Berry 10. Powell's 23 points reflected nearly doubling his season average of 12.1 ppg. The win snapped WMU's five-game losing streak and gives the Broncos momentum going into a its next four games, three of which are at home. The Broncos won at BSU despite being outrebounded 49-28, a margin of -21. WMU forced 15 turnovers at BSU and ranks a surprising second in the MAC in turnover ratio at +3.43. WMU also leads the MAC in steals with 8.43 per game (118 in 14 games). The Broncos feature two players in double figures in scoring in Reynolds at 15.0 ppg and Powell at 12.1 ppg.
Mid-American Conference teams have four wins over ranked teams thus far in the 2000-2001 season after producing just one such triumph last year (Ball State over No. 24 Purdue). Miami topped then No. 17/15 (ap/espn) Temple on Nov. 30, 66-58 behind Jason Grunkemeyer's 20 points. Marshall won on the road at No. 24 (ap) Dayton on Dec. 2, 67-65 as Tamar Slay popped in 19 points. Miami then matched Marshall's road win with a stunning 73-64 triumph at No. 10 Notre Dame on Dec. 9 as Alex Shorts and Mike Ensminger scored 16 points each and Ensminger pulled down 10 rebounds. Toledo's 69-66 win over No. 19/18 Cincinnati on Dec. 30 at Gund Arena was the fourth MAC victory over a ranked team this season. Greg Stempin led the Rockets with 21 points and a blocked shot in the closing seconds to secure the win.