Preview: Bowling Green, men's basketball battle to stay undefeated in MAC play
While it's early in the 2018-19 season, the Central Michigan men's basketball team heads into this weekend as one of four teams who are undefeated in Mid-American Conference play.
Another one of those four teams will be the Chippewas (13-2, 2-0 MAC) opponent at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 12 in McGuirk Arena — Bowling Green.
All head coach Keno Davis had to do was look at the Falcons (10-5, 2-0) final scores from the first two league games to realize the Chippewas will have their hands full.
"I think (BGSU) out-rebounds their opponents by over 11 rebounds per game," Davis said. "That is the one stat I did see and they beat Kent (State) and Ohio big.
"We can't get beat by 11 on the boards or the game will be over before it starts."
Davis was correct as the Falcons hold a 11.4 rebounding margin against their competition this season. That alone is good for first in the MAC and fourth overall in NCAA Division I basketball. In conference, Ohio is the next team on the list with a 6.3 rebounding margin.
With a big thanks to those rebounding stats, BGSU beat KSU 86-64 and followed with another blowout win over Ohio 82-63.
Senior forward Demajeo Wiggins leads the team and is No. 3 in the nation at 11.9 boards per game. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound Wiggins also is No. 20 in the MAC in scoring at 14.3 points per game. CMU, however, has found a new weapon of its own inside.
Junior forward Rob Montgomery has shown a new side of himself in the first two league games. Against Miami (OH), Montgomery led the team with 18 points and added nine boards — just one shy of a double-double. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound forward continued to play well in the post in the 88-86 overtime win against Akron on Jan. 8 by scoring 23 points with four boards. His scoring also came with a three 3-pointers.
"Keno told me a couple times to stand in the corner and if they don't guard me just shoot it and they didn't step out so I shot it with confidence," Montgomery said. "I work on my shot a lot everyday and want to keep improving."
While many players including Montgomery had heroic moments in the close win, senior guard Larry Austin Jr. downed the game-winning layup with 2.6 second left in overtime. He mentioned how important it was to have the crowd at home energetic the entire game.
"(The crowd) fed off of us but we most defiantly fed off of them," Austin said. "They got loud and once they get loud we don't want to lose because we want to do it for them, not just ourselves. We hope to continue to have that energy come in during MAC play."
As the press conference wrapped up and Austin and Montgomery were both asked about how they can remain undefeated in league play following the game with BGSU, they both looked at each other and said one word.