With Akron's (14-5, 8-2) loss at Buffalo (4-14, 2-7) Monday night, Bowling Green (14-3, 6-1) has moved into the top spot in the East Division. The Falcons have a chance to get a solid grip on the divisional lead as their next two games are at Kent (14-3, 6-2) and home versus Akron. Marshall (14-4, 6-3) and Miami (9-7, 5-3), play Wednesday night in Huntington. Those two teams, along with Ohio (11-9, 4-4) are battling to keep pace with the frontrunners. Buffalo could continue play the spoiler as the Bulls look toward the last half of February when they close the season with for consecutive games at home.
WEST UPDATE: It was a banner Saturday for the West as they went 2-0 against East teams. Northern Illinois (10-7, 4-4) topped Marshall 92-74, while Western Michigan (7-9, 3-4) won at Ohio in overtime, 78-74. NIU and Eastern Michigan (10-7, 4-4) remain tied for the top spot while WMU is in third place after winning its last two MAC games. Ball State (11-6, 3-5) slid to fourth place after Monday's loss at Marshall. Toledo (7-12, 1-7) and Central Michigan (4-13, 1-7) have both been victimized by injuries to top players. The Rockets have been without All-MAC forward Greg Stempin for three weeks and the Chippewas have been without last year's MAC Freshman of the Year Mike Manciel. Stempin may return soon but Manciel has been redshirted for the season.
Results and Schedule
Monday, January 24
*at Marshall 85, Ball State 73
*at Buffalo 84, Akron 83
Wednesday, January 26
*Ball State at Ohio, 7:00, Ball State Network
*Bowling Green at Kent, 7:00
*Miami at Marshall, 7:00
*Northern Illinois at Toledo, 7:00
*Western Michigan at Buffalo, 7:30
*Central Michigan at Eastern Michigan, 7:30
Saturday, January 29
*Miami at Western Michigan, Noon, MAC ESPN + Syndication
*Akron at Bowling Green, 1:00
*Buffalo at Ball State, 1:00
*Eastern Michigan at Northern Illinois, 2:05
*Marshall at Ohio, 4:00, MAC ESPN + Syndication
*Toledo at Kent, 8:00
BUSTING OUT: Northern Illinois T.J. Lux and Ohio's Shaun Stonerook both had big number games on Saturday. Lux posted career highs with 36 points and 20 rebounds versus Marshall. Stonerook registered 21 points and 21 rebounds in a loss to Western Michigan. For Stonerook it was his second 20-20 performance of the year and gave him a MAC-high 14 double-doubles.
WATCH OUT: Toledo's Greg Stempin gained first team All-MAC status last year as a sophomore and was leading the Rockets in scoring and rebounding this season when an elbow injury sidelined him on Jan. 8. Stempin returned to practice on Monday, Jan. 17 and is expected back soon to the Rockets' lineup. His return is much anticipated by head coach Stan Joplin, who has seen his squad go 0-5 during Stempin's absence. No doubt the 6-9 forward would have made a difference. The Rockets have lost one of those games by one point, another by three points and a third by just four points. Stempin's 16.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game will be welcomed back.
15 AND HOLDING: Western Michigan's 78-74 win at Ohio was the 15th overtime game this season involving a MAC team. Of those, eight have involved league games. Eastern Michigan leads the way with four overtime contests and has a 2-2 mark in the extended contests. Ball State played three overtime games in a row, including back-to-back triple OT contests on Jan. 8 and 12, both of which were losses for the Cardinals. Western Michigan, Miami and Ohio have also taken part in three overtime games each.
BOSLEY BURNS EAGLES: Akron's Jami Bosley scored 14 of his game-high 41 points in overtime Jan. 19 at Eastern Michigan as the Zips won. No other Zip scored a point in the extended period as Bosley capped the 40-point plateau for the second time in his career. His 41 counters are the most by a MAC player this season and overshadowed a 26-point outing by the Eagles' Corey Tarrant and 22 from Calvin Warner.
HERD ENTERS RECORD BOOK...AGAIN: Earlier this year Marshall set a MAC record in a game in its 127-126 double-overtime win at Western Michigan as the 253 points scored by two teams established a new standard, and the Herd's 17-three point goals in that game tied a league record (tied last week again by Ohio versus Central Michigan). Last week the Herd attempted a league-record 39 three-point goals versus West Virginia. Marshall's Tamar Slay tossed up 19-threes against the Mountaineers, another MAC record, making nine of them, tieing a league record.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: It's still early in the MAC title chase, but the common belief is that defense wins championships is supported by the fact that the league's top two leaders in field goal defense, Eastern Michigan (39.6%) and Akron (41.5%), were in first place in their respective divisions at the start of the week. EMU is tied for first with Northern Illinois, which ranks seventh in that category. The Zips' number is nearly five points better than last year's 46.1 rate.
BG BOUNCE: In both of the Falcons' wins last week, (Central Michigan and Miami) the MAC East leader came back from second half deficits of eight points. BG did not take the lead for good at CMU until Anthony Stacey made a three-point goal with 28 seconds left. Stacey's six steals last week increased his career total to 205, setting a new BG standard. Stacey needs just 136 points to become the school's all-time leader in points. Stacey's 1,699 points trails Howard Komives' (1962-64) 1,834.
ANDRICK JOINS CLUB: Akron's Ryan Andrick joined the 1,000-point club with his team-high 19 in the Zips' 69-64 win against Kent. He is the 28th player in Zip history to reach 1,000 points and follows current teammates Jimmal Ball, Jami Bosley and George Phillips in that exclusive membership. The four 1,000-point club members and the Zips' fifth starter, Bruce Weinkein, have combined to start 409 career games at the collegiate level.
CMU SURPRISE: With the loss of center and MAC Freshman of the Year Mike Manciel, the Chippewas have to appreciate the effort of walk-on Chad Pleiness. A 6-6 freshman who originally came to CMU as a scholarship football player, Pleiness averaged 15.3 points in three games last week and hit on 13-of-19 field goal attempts for a career-high 26 points versus Ball State. His 13 field goals is tied for the most by a MAC player this season. Pleiness is also a starting pitcher for the Chippewas' baseball team.
HANDYMEN: Central Michigan is getting solid assist numbers from guards Tim Kisner and Jon Borovich. Kisner's 22 assists in three games last week boosted his career total to 252, 11th best all-time at CMU. Both players had career highs in assists last week, Kisner with 11 versus Ohio and Borovich 10, with no turnovers, versus Bowling Green. Kisner ranks fifth in the MAC and Borovich 12th in assists.
JUST LIKE DAD: When EMU freshman Adam Hess scored 16 points at Toledo Saturday, Jan. 22, it reminded longtime Toledo fans of another Hess, Adam's Dad, Doug, who was a standout basketball player for the Rockets from 1968-71. Doug Hess still holds the Toledo record for single-season rebounds with 371 in 1969-70, and is second on the career rebound list with 892.
FLASH SIZZLES: Kent State center John Whorton shot a hot 68.8% (22-of-32) from the field last week and that performance has him at the top of the MAC in field goal percentage. Whorton, who had 25 points and 13 rebounds in a loss at Akron, has made 58.0% of his shots from the floor this season. Whorton also became Kent's career leader in blocked shots with his 99th career rejection during the Akron game and surpassed the 1,000-point plateau in the same game.
HOSIER HIGHS: Ball State guard Mickey Hosier hit for a career-high 20 points in Saturday's 88-69 win at Central Michigan that snapped a four-game losing streak. Hosier continues to lead the MAC in assist-turnover ratio at 2.91-1. In his last 28 games, Hosier has a 3.8-1.0 ratio. Hosier and his teammates play the last of of four games in eight days when they take on Ohio Wednesday night in Athens.
CHAIR OF THE BOARDS: 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 12.4 rebounds a game. His latest performance included a career-high 21 rebounds versus Western Michigan, surpassing his previous best of 20 set Jan. 5 at Kent. Stonerook also had three three-point goals in Ohio's win at Central Michigan and as a team the Bobcats tied a MAC record with 17 threes. His two games this season with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game matches the career efforts of former Bobcat Gary Trent.
REDHAWKS BACK ON TRACK: After their 17-game home winning streak was snapped earlier this month, the Miami RedHawks have won their last three home games. Miami has won four of its last five games and is two games over .500 in league play.
MIAMI-D: Despite Bowling Green shooting 73.7% from the field in the second half against the RedHawks, Miami kept alive its streak of holding foes to 50.0% or less from the field. Miami has held its last 23 opponents to 50.0% or less. Miami's 62.9 points per game allowed is the best in the MAC.
KAMSTRA NEARS 200 THREES: Toledo guard Chad Kamstra nailed nine three-point goals last week to boost his school career record to 193. Kamstra has 50 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.
DONNEWALD IN TOP 10: Western Michigan head coach Bob Donnewald picked up two wins this week and is now tied for ninth place all-time among MAC coaches with 148 wins. Donnewald is tied with former Kent coach Jim McDoanld (1982-92). Donnewald can claim sole possession of the #9 spot Wednesday night should the Broncos win at Buffalo.
BULLS CHARGE: The Buffalo Bulls won just one MAC game last year and had dropped its first four games this season. The Bulls, however, have responded by winning two of their last five league games, including an 84-83 comeback win Monday night versus then MAC East leader Akron. UB placed all five starters in double figures, including a team-high of 18 by Nikolai Alexeev. Forward Mike McKie scored the game-winning basket with seven seconds left. Akron led 83-77 with1:06 to play before the Bull's rally.
WILLIAMS LEADS WESTERN: Senior Thadus Williams has emerged as one of the top scorers for the rejuvinated Western Michigan team. The Broncos have won back-to-back MAC games for the first time since late January of 1999 and Williams was the leading scorer in each game. At home against Toledo, he popped in 22 points in a 77-73 win. The next time out, at Ohio, Williams' 25 points anchored the Broncos' 78-74 overtime triumph. If Williams can provide consistency with his points, the Broncos are poised to make a run at the West Division title, especially with the return on Tony Barksdale (18.4 ppg). Williams has six games with 20 or more points, six games with less than 10 points, and four games scoring between 12 and 17 points.
SERVING NOTICE: Part of Eastern Michigan's return to the top of the MAC West standings is the play of sophomore center Calvin Warner. Warner recently boosted his career scoring total to 533 points in 42 games, an average of 12.7 per game. Warner is averaging 15.6 ppg this season after a freshman campaign of 10.7 per game.
NOTICING NORTHERN: With four more wins, the Northern Illinois Huskies will have their most succsseful season since re-joining the MAC (1997-98). NIU went 12-16 in 1996-97, their last season in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, before producing back-to-back 10-16 and 6-20 seasons. This year NIU is 10-7 overal and 4-4 and in first place in the MAC West.
ROAD TO BUFFALO: The Buffalo Bulls play a home game on Jan. 29 (Western Michigan , four straight road games (Ball State, Marshall, Toledo and Bowling Green), before closing the regular season with four consecutive home games (Kent , Marshall, Ohio and Miami).
GOOD COMPANY: 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.
HERE'S HOW THEY DO IT: Bowling Green, leader in the MAC East Division, continues to be the top shooting MAC team and one of the top shooting teams in the country. The Falcons were second in the nation in field goal percentage and 12th in free throw percentage in the most recent NCAA stats. BG is shooting 50.6% from the field for the season, 53.9% in MAC play. The Falcons shot 73.7% (14-of-19) from the floor in the second half of the Miami game to fuel its comeback effort. BG ranks fourth in the MAC in scoring offense and fifth in scoring defense.