Last night in MACsketball:
Terrific night for the conference. They were 5-2 in sporadic nonconference play, 2-1 on the road, and 2-1 in overtime games.
Toledo 75, Valparaiso 72 (OT) — For the first 25 minutes, this one felt like just another embarrassing blowout at home at the hands of a seasoned Horizon team that had nothing but quality losses. And then the script changed ... UT was hustling, making smart plays, and whittling the 13-point lead away to a point where they were up by five with less than a minute left. Sure enough, Valpo tied the game before the clock struck zero, and the 10th loss felt imminent, but a funny thing happened: Reese Holliday kept playing. He finished with 16 points — all either free throws or layups — 10 rebounds, and really made his mark in this game. Hayden Humes also had 10 points and 14 boards, and three others finished with double-digit points.
I knew they'd eventually pick up a win somewhere, despite the setback at IPFW ... but to beat a team with a winning record? A little surprising. Pomeroy's computer prediction gave them a 9 percent change of winning. I don't know how many more this young team can scrape out, but it'll sure be a strong confidence booster. Toledo's next game: Saturday, 12/18 vs. Florida Gulf Goast
Ball State 79, DePaul 77 (OT) — With five extra minutes brought fun firsts for the MAC last night. In Chicago, Ball State gave the conference its first win over a power conference (the Big East) on the year. Yes, "It's DePaul" is a valid qualifier, but remember that the Cardinals lost to friggin' Alaska Anchorage. T'wasn't a given thing. Ball State was down by one in the closing seconds of regulation, but failure to rebound two misses resulted in Jarrod Jones being fouled, draining a free throw to tie the game with three seconds to go. They didn't exactly cruise in OT, but they were able to put it away and improve to 5-3. Jones finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Jesse Berry chimed in with 15. Two straight road wins in the Prairie State helps them look a lot better after the Alaska Quagmire. Ball State's next game: Tuesday, 12/21 vs. Mount St. Joseph (Division III)
LSU 59, Central Michigan 55 — This one started out so slow, our SBN sibling blog And The Valley Shook was taken aback at no points being scored in the first 3:12 and only eight in the first 7:50 ... combined. But once they got back to full steam in the second half, it looked like a regular game, although CMU was in position to pull off another power conference win. Tied with 1:31 to go, the Tigers sank their final eight free throw attempts as the Chips went into foul mode. Jalin Thomas had 21 and 7 while Trey Zeigler gave 'em 19. These nonconference schedules have broken down teams more talented than CMU. Let's see what they can do when they actually get a freakin' home game. Central Michigan's next game: Tuesday, 12/14 vs. Wright State
Western Michigan 61, Georgia State 59 — Flenard, people. Wanna see Flenard Whitfield's game-winning bucket, which was basically engineered by Demetrius Ward's drive to the basket? Here ya go, and it embodies how freaking cool MAC highlights are. Whitfield, Ward, Matt Stainbrook and Mike Douglas combined to score 57 of WMU's 61 points, which is a strange distribution of points that I won't bother trying to solve. Western Michigan's next game: Saturday, 12/18 vs. South Dakota State
Buffalo 78, Green Bay 64 — They just keep winning. The Phoenix get hounded by Byron Mulkey and Zach Filzen offensively (21 points each), while Javon McCrea hoisted up a double-double (13/12) to go with five blocks as the Bulls just kept building on their lead. Steadily they keep making noise and convincing doubter after doubter that maybe they're not the worst team in the MAC East. And now they rest for a crazy long time as their nonconference final exam is almost three weeks away. Buffalo's next game: Thursday, 12/30 vs. BYU
Miami 80, Troy 73 — This was an expected win as the Trojans were 1-6 coming in, but a surprising 44-40 halftime lead by the visitors caused Miami to regroup and finally break through in the final four minutes. Julian Mavunga had his 16 points and nine rebounds, but it was bench man Orlando Williams to the rescue with another 16 points aided by five 3-point buckets. That helped push along the sudden 9-point rally with 4:15 to go. Were there any goofy Charlie Coles quotes? There were not. Miami's next game: Saturday, 12/18 vs. Wright State
Detroit 68, Eastern Michigan 65 (OT) — I almost, almost went to this afternoon game before heading down to Toledo for the 7 p.m. tip-off. It'd have been very doable, but since each went to overtime, maybe 50 mintues of hoops is a little too much in one day. So this was for the best, but it was a good'un in Ypsilanti. Derek Thompson tied the game up before regulation ended with a 3-pointer as eight seconds remained in the game, and Brandon Bowdry had a scintillating 31 points and 19 rebounds, but foul trouble ate into their bench and the Titans had just enough to squeak out with another win. EMU's still looking for that elusive Division I victory. Eastern Michigan's next game: Monday, 12/20 vs. Valparaiso in Rochester, Michigan (Lou Henson Award Tournament)
2 p.m. — Florida International at Bowling Green
2 p.m. — IUPUI at OHIO
3 p.m. — Akron at Temple
6:30 p.m. — South Florida at Kent State (TV: ESPNU)