Men's basketball back in action against UMKC following 10-day break
It was 10 days ago the Central Michigan men's basketball team last touched the floor at McGuirk Arena.
So long ago that it may be easy to forget how well the Chippewas (8-2) have been playing.
CMU has won five of its last six contests and is a perfect 4-0 at home, looking to continue that success against the University of Missouri-Kansas City (4-8) at 7 p.m. on Dec. 19 in McGuirk Arena.
"We got guys who really want to be good and really want this team to be good," said head coach Keno Davis. "We've seen nothing but great effort in practice each day and if we stay healthy we are only going to improve with this work ethic.
"If we can keep up this intensity we have put together lately, we could put together something special."
CMU is coming off 95-86 victory over Southern Utah, a team that last season the Chippewas fell to on the road by a final score of 86-80. The Chippewas this time were able to get out to a big lead and never really look back.
The Chippewas held the lead for 37 minutes of the game and every time the SUU would put together a run, CMU found a way of stopping it. Senior guard Larry Austin Jr. said it is important they continue to do that.
"This was a growing experience for us," Austin said. "When we get up by a lot we seem to lackadaisical on the defensive end. We have to lock in and to become a great team we have to be a good team on the defensive end."
CMU possesses a 2-1 all-time record against the Kangaroos including last season's 96-86 victory in Kansas City. The Chippewas have already defeated Chicago State (101-60) and Cal State Bakersfield (67-55) who are both members of the Western Athletic Conference. UMKC is overall 2-5 on the road.
Nationally, the Chippewas have made some noise in the first 10 games as well. They rank sixth in steals per game (10), seventh in turnovers forced per game (18.9), No. 8 in turnover margin (5.7) and hold the nations 13th best scoring offense at 85.9 points per outing.
The Kangaroos are led by Kareem Richardson who is in his sixth season as the head coach. He has posted a 68-104 record in his time with UMKC.
The last time out for UMKC earned a 80-67 nonconference home win against McNeese State which is its third win in the last four contests. UMKC did start the season 0-6 but now has won four of the last six games. The Kangaroos defeated Fort Wayne 90-73 and South Dakota 65-63 for a pair of Division I wins.
Junior guard Xavier Bishop leads the team in scoring per game (16.8) and assists (55). The only other Roo in double figures is junior guard Rob Whitfield (13.1 points per game) who ranks No. 3 in the nation with 39 3-pointers made.