Men’s basketball tips off Mid-American Conference play against Ohio
Following an 11-2 nonconference record and Great Alaska Shootout championship, the Central Michigan men’s basketball team leads the Mid-American Conference in wins so far this season.
The Chippewas will face off against Ohio (7-5) at 7 p.m. on Jan. 2 at McGuirk Arena. The Chippewas are currently undefeated at home.
“It’s a new season, everyone’s 0-0 in the conference,” CMU sophomore guard David DiLeo said, regarding the start of conference play.
Led by senior forward Cecil Williams, CMU will attempt to start its conference schedule with a win despite being predicted to finish last in the MAC West Division. Williams averages 15.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
Throughout the nonconference schedule, the Chippewas only lost to Michigan on Nov. 13 and Southern Utah on Dec. 16. With both losses coming on the road, CMU is undefeated at McGuirk Arena.
“Our players are really good,” CMU coach Keno Davis said. “They’re guys that you want around, guys that you want to be around. Makes it enjoyable for a coach to come to work and for our fans to not only be able to watch a good product on the court, but to have people that you’re proud to have represent CMU.
“I think they’ve got to be able to keep their focus for each and every game. And we talk about not letting one play affect the next. If you have a bad play you’ve got to continue to do the same thing, believe in what you’re doing, and we’ve got to do that from one game to the next.”
Along with Williams' production, junior guard Shawn Roundtree and DiLeo have also provided scoring. Roundtree, a transfer from Mineral Area College in Missouri, has logged 14.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. DiLeo tallies 14.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
After an impressive nonconference showing, CMU is ranked No. 21 in the CollegeInsider Mid-Major Top 25 Poll and owns a 119 RPI number, good for No. 3 in the MAC.
The Bobcats have dropped games to Clemson, Dayton, Iona, Maryland and Marshall this season and play out of the MAC East Division. According to RPI, all of those losses are to teams better than the Chippewas.
Ohio has four players scoring in double figures, including senior guard Mike Laster (15.8), junior guard Jordan Dartis (14.6), freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (14.3) and senior forward Kevin Mickle (11.6).
Following the four leading scorers is junior guard Gavin Block, who averages 9.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Block has played in 12 games and is second on the team with 33.5 minutes per outing.
Last season, CMU defeated Ohio on the road at the Convocation Center, 97-87. Marcus Keene, who has now advanced to play professionally, scored 41 points on nine 3-pointers. Also starting his career following the 2016-17 season, Braylon Rayson scored 21 points and dished out four assists.
In the all-time series between the two squads, the Bobcats hold a 46-29 lead over the Chippewas.