Men’s basketball searches for third-straight win against MAC leader Buffalo
For the first time since nonconference play, Central Michigan men’s basketball earned back-to-back wins.
“It’s almost like a different season,” said CMU head coach Keno Davis. “It’s not like other times during the schedule when you play the same team within a week and a half. We’re probably a little different than we were then and so are other teams.”
The Chippewas (15-8, 4-6 Mid-American Conference), searching for their third-straight victory, host MAC East Division leader Buffalo (17-6, 9-1) at 7 p.m. on Feb. 6 at McGuirk Arena.
CMU has four players in double figures on the scoresheet, including junior guard Shawn Roundtree, senior forward Cecil Williams, sophomore forward David DiLeo and senior forward Luke Meyer.
Roundtree leads the team in points and assist with 15.0 points and 4.1 assists per game. DiLeo also paves the way for the Chippewas with 7.5 rebounds. He also chips in 12.6 points per contest.
At 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, Williams averages 14.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Meyer averages 10.0 points and 5.7 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Kevin McKay plays starter minutes, getting 25.0 minutes per game, in which he averages 9.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 2.0 steals.
“(McKay) brings so much energy on the court," Davis said. "Now, it’s about him being able to play that number of minutes and not get too tired.”
CMU leads the NCAA Division I in free throw percentage, going 364-of-452 from the charity stripe for an 80.5 percentage from the line.
Davis believes his team is on the right track to perform well in the MAC Tournament and earn a chance at the NCAA Tournament in March.
“If we can stay healthy, we have a shot,” Davis said. “Of all the teams I’ve seen, there’s not that much difference. There’s not much between us and those teams. In basketball, it’s a one-game chance to win.”
The Bulls have just six losses on the season, dropping games to Cincinnati, St. Bonaventure, Syracuse, Texas A&M and Kent State. At the time, Cincinnati and Texas A&M were ranked No. 12 and No. 8, respectively.
In Buffalo’s loss to the Bearcats on Nov. 20, the Bulls won the second half battle, but lost 73-67.
Buffalo is led by a quartet of players in junior guard CJ Massinburg, junior forward Nick Perkins, senior guard Wes Clark and junior guard Jeremy Harris. The four all average in double figures in the scoring column.
Massinburg pilots the group, averaging a team-high 18.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, along with dishing out 2.3 assists.
Perkins, at 6-foot-8, 250 pounds, records 16.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest. Even though he mainly works underneath the basket, he can get the job done from downtown, shooting 32.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Clark and Harris average 14.1 and 13.9 points per game, respectively. Clark leads the Bulls with 5.9 assists per game.
In the NCAA Division I RPI, Buffalo is ranked No. 32 of 351 programs. CMU holds the No. 166 position, which is 29 spots better than where the Chippewas were last week.
Of all the MAC teams, Buffalo holds the highest spot in the RPI standings. Toledo is the next best, ranked No. 72.
Last season, Buffalo came out on top twice against CMU, winning 101-91 at home and 99-93 on the road at McGuirk Arena. In the Chippewas’ home loss, Marcus Keene scored 27 points.
In the most recent 10 games, Buffalo is 8-2 against CMU.
“Just because we win a game doesn't mean we are the best team in the league,” Davis said. “We are just trying to get better and if we can keep improving there is no way we can’t be a really good team by March.”