CMU men's basketball wins big over WMU in toilet paper toss


Central Michigan President Bob Davies, front, and CMU's men's basketball team, back, celebrate during the toilet paper toss before a game against Western Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 17 in McGuirk Arena. This was CMU's second year bringing back the toilet paper toss tradition. (Marie Underwood | CM-Life)

With 5,032 fans in attendance, Central Michigan men’s basketball looked to put on a performance for the Chippewa faithful and that is exactly what it did against rival Western Michigan.

The Chippewas did that by getting out to an 11-2 lead that was propelled by three-straight three-pointers for junior guard Derrick Butler.

CMU never looked back, building a big lead as the Chippewas won the game, 69-42 on Saturday. The 27-point margin is the largest victory for CMU in the series against WMU.

“Every team has a rival,” head coach Tony Barbee said. “Anytime in any given season you get to sweep your rival it's meaningful. It's meaningful for the team it's meaningful for the fans, meaningful for the students who were huge again tonight.”

The win brings the Chippewas to an overall 15-10 on the season and 9-3 in Mid-American Conference play.

After a WMU three stopped the 11-2 run, CMU went on another run. This time, the Chippewas produced nine-straight points that featured another Butler three along with a few baskets from graduate guard Brian Taylor. The run gave CMU the 20-5 lead, five minutes into the game.

The Chippewas went on yet another run following another WMU three, that extended CMU's lead to 27-8, only eight minutes into the game.

Both offenses traded baskets for the remainder of the half, but CMU headed into intermission with a 40-21 lead. The 19-point lead is the largest halftime lead the Chippewas have held in a game this season.

As both offenses were slow out of the break, CMU found its consistency around nine minutes into the half, building its lead to 27. About three minutes later CMU was able to extend the lead to 30, which was its largest of the game.

CMU was able to run the clock down for the remainder of the half and win the game with ease.

Central Michigan was led offensively by Butler who had a game high 24 points, with 20 of them coming in the first half. 

“I spent some time with Derek (Butler) this week really watching tape with him and what we both discovered watching that tape (is) he's one of our best scorers on the floor,” Barbee said. “We were going to come out of the gate and go to Derrick and he stepped up and took advantage of it.”

Butler had a career-high five three-pointers while also grabbing nine rebounds.

“Barbee has a lot of confidence in me,” Butler said. “He sees how good of a player I am offensively and defensively, but we were mainly focused on how he can get me more involved.”

Junior forward Markus Harding returned from injury after missing the previous three games and put together a solid performance. In 22 minutes, he had 15 points and seven rebounds.

“He’s huge for this team,” Barbee said on Harding. “He's going through some things physically, and he's fighting his tail off to be with his team and he had to step away for a couple games.”

CMU still played its game on the defensive side of things as it held WMU to 42 points, its lowest total against CMU since 1983.

“I'm mad that they got to 40,” Barbee said. “They had 32 with four minutes left they shouldn’t have got to 40.”

The Chippewas totaled seven steals and 15 points off turnovers with freshman guard Cayden Vasko having a team high with three steals.

Central Michigan will play host to Bowling Green on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

“I need them (students/fans) here again on Tuesday," Barbee said. "Both student’s sections, all corners filled with the students. I need that again on Tuesday night.

"I know they're gonna show up for Western, but we need them here. They're just as important as my starting center, my starting point guard, we need them here every game.”