Men’s basketball rides hot streak into battle against Montana State
Just less than a month ago, the Central Michigan men’s basketball team filed out of the Crisler Center after a heartbreaking seven-point loss to the University of Michigan.
Following a tough defeat to the Wolverines, which CMU head coach Keno Davis called “a good test,” the Chippewas got back to their winning ways and earned five straight victories.
“The chemistry with this team seems to be getting better and better,” Davis said. “We have liked what we’ve been able to do so far, and I think we will keep developing as a better team.”
CMU (6-1) takes on Montana State (6-3) of the Big Sky Conference at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5 at McGuirk Arena.
“Starting 6-1 is great, but we’re looking to come out and improve,” sophomore guard David DiLeo said. “In December, you aren’t going to be playing your best basketball. You’re looking to play your best in March. It’s great that we are able to come together as a team, play tough and find ways to win.”
The Chippewas are coming off a 70-63 triumph over Jackson State, in which DiLeo logged 19 points, five rebounds and two steals in 35 minutes.
“It was great to go to Alaska and win a championship, but it was also great to come back and get a win with a nice crowd,” DiLeo said. “We really got people to show up and that helped to pull out the win.”
The biggest Cougar threat is junior guard Tyler Hall. He is averaging 21.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game in eight games this season. Following Hall is sophomore guard Herald Frey, registering 14.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
Across the country, CMU is tied for 24th in points allowed, giving up an average of just 62.3 points per game. As for Montana State’s offense, the Bobcats score 80.4 points per game, good for No. 93 in the nation.
“Seven games into last season, we were giving up 76 points per game,” Davis said. “This year, nobody has 76 points on us.”
Senior forwards Cecil Williams and Luke Meyer lead the Chippewas in field goal percentage, as Meyer connects on 63.8 percent of his shots and Williams scores at an even 50 percent. Williams averages 12.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
CMU junior guard Shawn Roundtree, who transferred over from Missouri State, leads the team with 14.4 points per game, while also posting 2.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 29.9 minutes per contest.
“So far, the best thing about this team is no matter what we find a way to win,” Roundtree said. “Whether we’re down and have to come back or we have the lead and another team is on the run, we have been showing great resilience. We have to keep up the momentum and can’t get complacent.”
The Chippewas are shooting 46.6 percent from the field, 36.3 percent from 3-point range and 81.3 percent from the free throw line this season. Meyer has made 9-of-16 shots from beyond the arc, which is an astonishing 56.3 shooting percentage.
As for his 6-1 record, Davis said he would not have predicted it for CMU, but had a feeling his team would be better than many thought.
“The preseason expectations are based off statistics of what you’ve lost and not so much of what’s coming in,” Davis said. “I thought this team could be an improved rebounding team and a good defensive team. The defense over seven games has shown strides.”