The weather outside might be frightful with below zero temperatures. However things are starting to head up in arenas around the Mid-American Conference as conference play began.
The pre-season favorites, Buffalo and Western Michigan, each got off to a strong 2-0 start while defending regular-season champion Akron stumbled out of the gate with two losses both on the road
Here is a look at the teams and their first week of MACTION
AKRON: The Zips opened MAC play Tuesday night on the road at Western Michigan losing to the Broncos 87-75 graduate Student Malcom Duvivier in his first MAC game led UA with 21 points while Jimond Ivey had 18 and Daniel Utomi had 11 with each pulling down five rebounds. UA trailed by fifteen at halftime but cut their deficit down to double digits before WMU pulled away late in the game
Friday night Akon traveled west again this time to Toledo where they have always trouble over the years and lost to the Rockets in a close game 67-65. Utomi led the Zips with 19 points going four-of five from three-point range while freshman Eric Parrish added 17 and seven rebounds. Duvivier, who played four seasons at Oregon State, had another strong game with 14 points ten assists and six rebounds.
Utomi leads UA in scoring at 18.1 pointer per game and in rebounds at 6.6 per contest while Ivey leads in assists at 4.2. The Zips have lost two straight and five of their last seven as they are back this week in the friendly confines of Rhodes Arena as they face Buffalo on Tuesday night and then Bowling Green on Saturday afternoon.
BOWLING GREEN: The Falcons opened MAC play Tuesday night falling to Miami at the Stroh Center 77-72. The Redhawks broke open a close first half to lead by five points at halftime and did not trail the rest of the way, Demajeo Wiggins led BGSY with 18 points and five rebounds. Antuwn Lillard came off the bench to score 15 with five boards, two steals, and a blocked shot. Darquon Plaonder had 11 with five assists and two steals while Justin Turner had 10 points and three thefts
On Saturday, the Falcons took the short trip to Eastern Michigan and defeated the Eagles 75-71 in overtime after the home team tied the score with 1:01 in regulation the Brown and Orange took over in the extra session to get the victory. Lillard led BGSU with 20 points, 12 rebounds five assists and two steals. Wiggins had 15 and 11 boards. Turner had 15 with two helpers and two thefts while Matt Fox was big off the pines as he had 18 points (all coming from beyond the arc going 6-of-10) and four assists the major key in the Falcons 22-5 scoring edge off the bench.
Turner leads the Falcons in scoring at 16.2 per game. Wiggins leads the rebounds at 8.5 and Rodrick Coleman has 3.5 assists per contest. This week, BGSU is home to Northern Illinois then heads east on the Turnpike Saturday to battle Akron.
BUFFALO: The Bulls were the prognosticators pick to win the Eastern Division they opened conference play on Tuesday night with a 104-94 win over Toledo at Alumni Arena. The second time this season UB has scored 100 or more points in a game. CJ Massinburg led Buffalo with 27 points including 10-for-10 from the free throw line with seven rebounds to assists and three steals. During the game, Massinburg went over the 1000 point total for his career. Wes Clark added 25 and Devonte Johnson had 16 with five assists. UB shot 52.8 percent in the second half and went 27-of-31 for the game from the charity stripe.
On Saturday UB backed up their win over Toledo with a victory at Ball State 83-63 ending the Cardinals nine-game winning streak. Bufffalo took advantage of poor shooting from the field by the Cards and built a 43-25 lead at halftime and were never headed. Massinburg led five players in double figures with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Perkins had a double-double 15 and 11 while Jayson Graves had 16 both coming off the bench. Jeremy Harris had 16 with seven rebounds and three assists while Clark had 10 with three boards and four helpers.
Massinburg leads the MAC averaging 19.6 points per game and also leads the Bulls in rebounds at 7.9 per contest. Davonte Johnson leads in assists at 3.7. This week the Bulls head to Akron on Tuesday to battle the Zips then return home on Saturday for Miami
KENT STATE: The defending MAC Tournament Champions opened conference play on the road at Northern Illinois losing to the Huskies 75-61. Junior Jaylin Walker led KSU with 18 points with four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Kevin Zabo was the only other Golden Flashes player in double figures with 17.KSU withstood a 14-2 second half run by the home teams and closed to within seven with 4:29 remaining on a conventional three-pointer by Zabo but could not get any further
The Flashes returned home to the MAC Center and defeated Central Michigan in a game that they led throughout 85-69. KSU built as much as a 16-point halftime lead saw their advantage trimmed to eight in the second half but finished strongly. Walker led four Flashes in double figures with 26 points with four rebounds, five assists, and two teals. De La Rosa had a career night with 14 points and 14 boards. Zabo had 17 with helpers while Avery had 12 with three assists and to steals.
Walker leads KSU in scoring at 18.3 points per game. De LaRosa leads the rebounders at 7.5, and Avery leads in assists at 4.1. KSU heads on the road to Miami on Tuesday night then returns home to face Ohio on Friday night.
MIAMI: The Redhawks traveled up Interstate 75 to Bowling Green and won their MAC opener defeating the Falcons 77-72 taking a five point lead at halftime and were never headed. Dalonte Brown led five MU players in double figures with 16 points, 17 rebounds and three blocked shots. Rod Mills came off the bench to score 12, Darruis Riggs added 11 with seven assists and four steals and Nike Sibane had 10. MU also had a decisive rebounding edge 45-36
Saturday the Hawks opened their MAC home schedule at Millett Hall they have the Western Michigan Broncos all they could handle before a 14-0 run in the second half did MU in losing 67-62. Darrin Ringo had a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists along with a steal. Nike Sibande had 13 points and six rebounds.
Sibande leads MU in scoring at 13.7 per game with Ringo leadin the MAC in assists at 8.1 helpers and Dalonte Brown leads in rebounds at 6.2 caroms per contest. This week Miami plays host to Kent State on Tuesday night then heads to Buffalo on Saturday to battle the Bulls.
OHIO: The Bobcats opened MAC play Tuesday night taking the long trek to Central Michigan falling to the Chippewas 50-75 after being held to their lowest point to total of the season as they shot just 26.7% from the field in the second half and were outscored in the second half 38-19 in the final 20 minutes all this despite the Green and White having a six-point lead at halftime. Mike Laster led Ohio with 19 points
Saturday the Cats returned to the Convocations Center and bounced back with a 78-69 win over Northern Illinois as Laster scored a career high 31 points. In the game, Ohio shot 56.6 percent from the field over the 40 minutes. Treyvon Kirk had 16 points the 12th time this season the freshman has scored in double figures.
Laster leads the Green and White in scoring averaging 17.2 points per game. Gavin Block leads in assists at 3.4 while Doug Taylor is master of the rebounds at 7.9 per game. This week, Ohio finishes a stretch of four of five games at home Tuesday night against Ball State then heads to Kent State on Friday night to battle the Golden Flashes
BALL STATE: The Cardinals opened MAC play with their ninth consecutive victory defeating Eastern Michigan Tuesday night at Worthen Arena 72-62 breaking open close game in the second half with a 13-2 run. Kyle Mellins led the cards with 17 points. Troy Moses added 13 with 10 rebounds. Tajhai Teague had 12 AND Tayler Persons had nine with five rebounds and six assists. BSU had a 42-33 edge off the boards. The nine-game winning streak is the sixth longest in school history and the longest since a 10-game skein in 1999-2000
Saturday the Cards nine game winning streak came to an end at the hands of the Buffalo Bulls at home 83-63. The visitors took advantage of BSU’s 24 percent shooting in the first half to build a 43-25 halftime lead. The Cards came back in the second half however every time they made a run, UB countered and pulled further ahead. Sean Sellers led with 17 points the only BSU player in double digits while Moses had 11 rebounds but only six points.
Tayler Persons leads NSU in scoring at 14.2 per game and in assists at 4.3. Moses is atop the rebounding chart with 7.5 per game. This week the Cardinals are on the road first to Ohio on Tuesday and at Western Michigan on Saturday
CENTRAL MICHIGAN: The Chippewas came into conference play with the most non-conference wins. They backed up that number collecting their fourth consecutive in defeating Ohio 75-50 Tuesday night at in the MAC opener McGuirk Arena. David DiLeo had 22 points going 7-of-13 from the field (6-of-12 from three-point range) and nine rebounds while Luke Meyer added 12 After trailing by six points at halftime, CMU went on a 15-0 run over the first six minutes of the second half to seize control of the contest
Saturday night, CMU traveled to Kent State and fell to the Golden Flashes 85-69 in a game they never lead. Meyer led the Chips with 15 points, seven rebounds and our assists. Josh Kozinski had 12 points all four of his field goals from theee-point ranve while Cecil Williams was held to just six points before fouling out.
Williams leads CMU in scoring at 14.4 points pe contest. Di Leo leads in rebounds at 7.3 and Shawn Roundtree leads in assists at 3.9. This week the Chippewas are home beginning on Tuesday night to Eastern Michigan then on Saturday against Toledo
EASTERN MICHIGAN: The Eagles opened conference play on the road at Ball State falling to the Cardinals 72-62. EMU had a five points lead at halftime withstood a 13-2 run by the Cards and fought back to within three points 59-56 with 4:19 remaining but could not get any further. Elijan Minnie the transfer from Robert Morris led EMU with 25 points (17 of them coming in the first half) with four steals and three blocked shots. Paul Jackson added 14 with four assists. James Thompson IV the player in the MAC to average a double-double (points & rebounds) in the non-conference schedule was held to just eight points and eight rebounds before fouling out. It was the first time this season the Eagles led at halftime and lost
Saturday in the home opener at the Convocation Center, the Eagles battled Bowling Green throughout tying the game with 61 seconds in regulation however the Falcons were too touch in overtime emerging 75-71 victors dropping EMU’s MAC record to 0-2. Jackson led four Eagles in double figures with 21 points, four rebounds five assists and a steal, Minnie had 15 and seven boards. Thompson IV had another double-double 14 and 14 while Tim Bond came off the bench to score 16.
Minnie leads the Eagles in scoring 17 points per game. Thompson IVB leads the MAC in rebounds and remains the only player this season to average double digits in points and rebounds 11.7 and Jackson leads in assists at 4.7. This week, EMU ends a stretch of four game in five at home on Tuesday night hosting Central Michigan then on Saturday travels to Northern Illinois
NORTHERN ILLINOIS: The Huskies began MAC play on Tuesday defeating defending MAC Tournament champion Kent State at the NIU Convocation Center 75-61. NIU led at halftime broke the game open with a 14-2 run over a five minute span of the second half. Junior Levi Bradley led the Huskies with 25 points and a career high 14 rebounds. He went a perfect 14-of-14 from the free throw line it was his second double double of the season and sixth of his career. Eugene German added 20 with seven rebounds. NIU had 23 second chance points one of the keys to their victory
Saturday the Huskies traveled to Ohio and were beaten by the Bobcats 78-69 despite shooting 56.3 percent from the field in the second half as the Cats used a 14-2 run to open a 78-68 halftime lead.NIU had four players in double figures led by German who had 15 points with three assists and two steals while Bradley had 14 and seven rebounds.
German is second in the MAC scoring race at 19.5 points per game and leads NIU in assists with 2.1 per contest. Bradley is averaging 6.3 rebounds per contest. This week the men from DeKalb head to Bowling Green on Tuesday and then return home on Saturday for Eastern Michigan.
TOLEDO: The Rockets opened MAC play with the long trek on Interstate 90 to Buffalo falling to the pre-season Eastern Division favorite Bulls 104-94. UT came back from a 12-point second half deficit to get within two with six minutes remaining then within five with 2:47 remaining but could get no further. Tre’Shawn Fletched had 27 points with Jaelan Sanford added 18 with five assists while Willie Jackson pulled down 10 rebounds. Toledo shot 54 percent from the field including 10-of-20 from beyond the arc however 16 turnovers proved to be their undoing
The Rockets bounced back at home on Friday night as they defeated Akron 67-65 in a close game throughout the second half to even their MAC record at 1-1. Sanford led UT with 22 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Fletcher had a double-double with 14 points & 10 rebounds. It was UT’s fifth win over the Zips in the last six meetings.
Fletcher leads the Rockets in all three major statistical categories at 17.8 points. 8.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Toledo stays at home on Tuesday night when Western Michigan comes to Savage Arena then on Saturday head to Central Michigan to battle the Chippewas
WESTERN MICHIGAN: In the pre-season poll, the Broncos were picked as the top team in the Western Division and showed it as they opened conference play at home with a 47-31 win over regular-season defending champion Akron. WMU shot a sizzling 62.1 percent from the field and finished the contest at 53.4 percent. Five Broncos scored in double figures led by junior Josh Davis who scored 26 points going a perfect 10-of-10 from the floor including hitting all three shots from beyond the arc. Thomas Wilder came close to a triple double with 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Bryan Moore had 13, Reggie Jones 12 qnd Drake LaMont had 11. It was the Broncos first MAC opening win since 2013 the keys to their victory was a 37-27 rebound edge as well as converting eleven Zips turnovers into 19 points
After their win over the Zips, WMU traveled south to Miami and picked up their fourth straight victory and 2-0 in MAC play defeating the Redhawks 67-62. Trailing by six at halftime., the Broncos seized control in the second half thanks to a 14-0 run. Eight of the points came from Moore who led the Broncs with 16. Davis added 13 and 11 rebounds while Wilder had 13 with four rebounds and two assists., The victory was the 400th in the career of head coach Steve Hawkins.
Wilder leads the Broncos in scoring at 17.7 points per game and in assists at 7.4 while Davis is king of the rebounders at eight caroms per contest. This week, MU heads to Toledo to face the Rockets then on Saturday Ball State comes to University Arena.
There you have our first conference installment of INSIDE MAC BASKETBALL.
Tuesday night has a pair of big games as Western Michigan battles Toledo looking to go 3-0 as well as Buffalo as they travel to Akron as the Zips look for their first conference win.
SEE YOU COURTSIDE!!