Sunday, January 22, 2006

MAC Nightcap: Where this reporter is glad his internet connection was down this morning...

[note: still guest-blogging on Hoops Junkie...]

Well, it was certainly an interesting last day of cross-division matchups... I had a nice little "MAC Today" written to post today, detailing how I figured Buffalo, Miami, and Akron had cruise-control match-ups to wrap up their tour through the West, how I thought West leader NIU would likely defend homecourt against Kent, and how I feared that Ball State would continue their suffering against BGSU. Sometimes a downed internet connection can be a blessing. That way you guys will never know about this unbelievably inaccurate set of predictions... oh, wait... I guess I just told you about them... Anyway...

On a day of Top-25 upsets (ND St. over Wisky, the Johnnies over Pitt, the hated UT over the Gators, and, of course, the Dukies falling to the Hoyas), I guess it's natural that the MAC followed suit. A couple of big upsets lead off the MAC Tonight:

  • Central Michigan 71, Buffalo 61 - Central Michigan picked up their first road win of the season after nine tries, breaking Buffalo's streak of 14 straight home victories along the way. In a surprising course of events, the Bulls found themselves down by 22 points in the second half against the 3-12 Chips, but were able to close within three before finally succumbing to the determined CMU squad. A bad shooting night (39% FG, 35% 3FG, 58%FT) certainly contributed to the defeat. Giordan Watson led the way for the Chips with 25 points, along with a double-double from Sefton Barrett (20 pts, 14 boards). Calvin Cage led Buffalo with 25 points.

    Where things stand: Buffalo remains in the MAC East cellar with a 3-3 record, while CMU is tied for fourth in the MAC West with a 1-6 mark.

    Up next: Buffalo travels to BGSU, while CMU travels to Ball State

  • Western Michigan 59, Miami 50 - Another Directional also had a good day at the expense of a MAC East leader... In similar fashion to CMU, WMU built a 13 point lead going into halftime by outscoring the Redhawks 18-2, and then was able to hold on during a second half challenge. Miami was able to cut the lead to one point, but never could take an advantage in the second half. Joe Reitz led the Broncos with 19 points, and William Hatcher also scored 19 points for Miami. Nathan Peavy was held to 4 points on 1-3 shooting, but did manage a game-high 10 rebounds.

    Where things stand: Miami falls into 3rd place, 1/2 game off the pace of the leaders in the MAC East, while Western remains in second place in the West, 1 1/2 games behind NIU.

    Up next: Western travels to Eastern, while Miami hosts Kent

  • Akron 79, East. Michigan 61 - Akron broke up the Michigan party, breaking open a close game with a 12-4 run to cruise to a victory against Eastern. The Zips had a balanced attack with four players in double figures, led by Dru Joyce (16 pts, 5 ast) and Romeo Travis (15 pts, 8 rb). EMU was led in scoring by (guess who?) John Bowler with (16 pts, 9 rb), but he committed 8 turnovers. The Eagles shot 52% from the field, but 24 turnovers contributed to their demise.

    Where things stand: Akron stays atop the MAC East, while EMU remains in the MAC West cellar.

    Up next: EMU host WMU, while Akron travels to Ohio

  • Ball St. 62, Bowling Green 61 - Yeah!!! (oh, sorry... not supposed to let biases show...) Ball State recovered from a 9 point deficit on the homecourt, finishing with a 26-16 run to finally secure their first MAC victory of the year. In a game that was closely contested throughout, the Cards dove deep into their bench (10 players with 9 minutes or more) and played many minutes with 5 freshmen on the court as Tim Buckley looked for a combination that worked. The result was an ugly victory gained on 37% shooting, but with big shots when they were needed. Maurice Acker (19 pts, 6 ast) and Skip Mills (14 pts, 9 rb) again led the way for the Cards, while BG was led by Steven Wright (who made two late 3-pointers to keep it close) with 16 points, and Martin Samarco with 15.

    Where things stand: BG still resides in the MAC East cellar with a 3-3 mark, while BSU climbs into third place in the West with a 1-5 record.

    Next up: BSU hosts CMU, while BG hosts Buffalo

  • Ohio 71, Toledo 68 - Ohio gained their first win at Savage Hall in a decade by defeating the Toledo Rockets in an ugly affair. The Bobcats shot 57% from the field (67% in the first half), but made 24 turnovers and shot a miserable percentage from the line, leading to a close game against the Rockets. Whitney Davis led the Bobcats with 18 points, while Leon Williams contributed 13. Jeremy Fears had 14 points, but rode the pine for the last 16 minutes or so. Justin Ingram led the Rockets with 20 points.

    Where things stand: Ohio is in fourth place in the East, one game behind the leaders, while UT is in fourth place in the West, three games off of the pace.

    Next up: Ohio hosts Akron, while UT travels to NIU

  • Kent St. 72, Northern Illinois 61 - In what on paper looked like the game of the day but didn't really play out that way, Kent won the battle of division leaders, besting Northern on their homecourt by 11. NIU buried themselves in the first half with a dismal 29% shooting output to dig an 11-point halftime hole that they could never climb out of. Jay Youngblood was on fire for the Flashes, scoring 27 points on 10 of 16 shooting, and also grabbing six boards. Omni Smith continued his impressive efforts off the Kent bench, scoring 14 points in 29 minutes of action. NIU was led by James Hughes (15 pts) and Anthony Maestranzi (14 pts).

    Where things stand: Kent has quietly stayed in a tie for first in the East with an undefeated conference record, while NIU remains firmly atop the West division with a 2-win advantage over the nearest challenger.

    Up next: Kent travels to Miami, while NIU hosts Toledo


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