Sam Houston State awaits men's basketball in first road game
At home they are perfect. In neutral court settings they've proved they can win.
Now, the Central Michigan men's basketball team will head on the road for the first time this season.
The Chippewas (5-1) will open a three-game road set with Sam Houston State (3-4) at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 28 in Huntsville, Texas.
"It's important that our guys look at Sam Houston State as a team that can beat you regardless of their record," said head coach Keno Davis. "They had a season similar to our where they won 20-plus games. We're going on the road for the first time which gives us an opportunity to gain experience while understanding it could be a hostile environment."
The Bearkats and Chippewas met in the first game of the 2017-18 Great Alaska Shootout last season with CMU earning the 71-60 victory. Senior guard Shawn Roundtree led the team with 20 points and six assists in the victory.
Roundtree is currently third on the team in scoring at 13.7 points per game behind senior guard Larry Austin Jr. and junior guard Kevin McKay who are tied for first at 18.3 points per contest. Roundtree said the team is completely different from a year ago.
We don't want to compare ourselves to that team and I'm sure (SHSU) doesn't want to either," Roundtree said. "Right now we have a lot of guys who can provide a spark which is making us play better, we have to keep that going when we don't have everyone cheering for us."
Last year CMU took a 42-30 lead into the locker room and never allowed the Bearkats to get back within single digits of the lead. The Chippewas so far on the 2018-19 season are winning their games by an average of 22.8 points. The only loss they had came by two points on a buzzer beater to Weber State.
In that game against the Wildcats in the Junkanoo Jam, CMU went 14-of-22 (66.6 percent) from the foul line. On the year CMU is shooting just 63.4 percent from the free throw line which is 11th in the Mid-American Conference.
Last season as a whole, CMU was second in all of NCAA Division I basketball with a 80.6 percent free throw percentage — a new program record.
McKay is 26-of-36 (72.2 percent) from the free throw line this season which is second on the team. In order to win games on the road, the 6-foot-5 guard believes they need to up the percentage.
"We learned that in close games all of those points matter and right now we are giving too many of them away," McKay said. "It'll be key for us to improve on them to win games down the stretch."
So far at home on the young season, the Bearkats are a perfect 2-0 at the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum. All four of their losses have come on the road to Louisiana Tech, Clemson, Georgia and East Tennessee State.
The Bearkats take part in the Southland Conference where they are coached by Jason Hooten. Hooten has produced an overall record of 161-117 with a 87-53 mark in league play. In his nine seasons with SHSU, the team has only had a losing record once (2011-12).
In last years matchup, former SHSU guard Jamal Williams scored 14 points to lead the team. In his place as the scoring leader this season is redshirt senior guard Cameron Delaney at 11.6 points per game. Junior forward Kai Mitchell does a majority of the scoring inside with 11 points per outing.
On the season, SHSU is scoring 72.2 points per game and allowing opponents to score 68.9. They shoot 42.4 percent from the field and 32.2 percent from beyond the arc. They force 15 turnovers and average 6.3 steals per game.