Men's basketball opens a two game road trip against Ball State
After playing over half of the season with a perfect home record, the Central Michigan men’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the season at McGuirk Arena to Toledo on Jan. 13.
The Chippewas have struggled recently, losing the last three games of Mid-American Conference play.
Toledo was the third consecutive game the Chippewas (12-5, 1-3 Mid-American Conference) have allowed more than 75 points (79 being the lowest against Eastern Michigan) which is well above their season average of 68.1 points allowed per game, the top mark in the MAC.
Sophomore guard Kevin McKay said he and his teammates failed to guard the Rockets shooters, which went 14-of-32 from 3-point distance while pouring in 93 points.
“We knew who their shooters were, but we struggled to communicate like we usually do,” McKay said. “So they were getting easy shots. There’s a lot of things we need to work on.”
Head coach Keno Davis feels his team is not far off from accomplishing the aforementioned "things."
“We’d rather be 3-1 (in the MAC), but that wouldn't mean we are any better of a team,” Davis said. “We knew that we’d have to continue to improve in what we do. I don't feel like we are that far away. More importantly (than winning), we need to improve as a team.”
Transfer guard Shawn Roundtree, who had a career-high scoring day with a 29-point performance while adding five boards and two assists, said he felt like he could build off of this loss.
“I was just trying to win at the end of the day,” Roundtree said. “I needed to make plays and today I felt confident. That’s something I need to continue doing.”
Davis said he believes Toledo will be a “dangerous” team throughout the year and the Chippewas gave them everything they had.
“The way they started making just about every shot obviously put us in a hole,” Davis said. We had enough to battle back, but not enough to make the next step.”
The next step comes from the Ball State Cardinals (11-6, 2-2) who beat at the time No. 9 Notre Dame earlier this season, but will also be battling back from a 73-58 loss to Western Michigan.
The Cardinals rank average in the conference in scoring and defending, currently tied at sixth in scoring offense (75.7 points per game) and is seventh in scoring defense (73.9 points per game).
This game will feature two teams that shoot the ball at a high percentage from the free throw line, with the Chippewas being first in the MAC (81.1 percent) and BSU (73.4 percent) sitting at third.
CMU only allows its opponents to shoot 33 percent from 3-point range while BSU is last in the conference, allowing opponents to shoot 3-pointers at 37.5 percent.
The Cardinals only have two players that are averaging double figures in scoring from game-to-game, led by junior guard Tayler Persons who is scoring 14.3 per game. The Kokomo, Indiana native is also first on the team and fourth in the conference with 71 assists (4.2 per) on the year.
Sophomore forward Kyle Mallers is second leading scorer with 10.9 points per game.
BSU is coached by James Whitford who is now in his fifth season with the Cardinals. Last season he led them to a 21-13 (11-7 MAC) record with a appearance in the semifinals of the MAC Tournament.
The Chippewas will begin a two game road trip against the Cardinals at 7 p.m. on Jan. 16 at Worthen Arena in Muncie, Indiana. CMU will complete the trip against Bowling Green on Jan. 20 at 3:30 p.m. at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio.