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MAC Basketball Review: Make Your Free Throws And Neat Things Happen

MACsketball notes and highlights, where the East remains king but the West is starting a bit of an uprising (Miami-NIU game in separate post):

Final - 2.8.2012 1 2 OT Total
Akron Zips (17-7, 9-1 MAC) 22 37 10 69
Western Michigan Broncos (10-14, 4-6 MAC) 31 28 7 66

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Flenard Whitfield had a chance. He really did. And it's hard to put the game on the heels of one person. And he did make one of two free throws, which isn't awful. But down one on the final possession, the WMU senior was hacked, made the first, missed the second, and they went to overtime. It seems likely that they could've won the game right there, but that's how it goes. The point is that even though a loss is a loss, Akron is one tough nut to crack. They've now won 10 of their last 11 games. They're kinda good.

WMU controlled much of this game insomuch that the lead was nine points by the Broncos at halftime. They didn't even trail until there was 5:23 left in the match. What did I say earlier — consistent scoring followed by massive runs that come out of nowhere? Yeah, that's pretty much what the second half was.

The 37 Zips points in the second half were scored by a total of five players: Demetrius Treadwell with nine and Zeke Marshall, Alex Abreu and Brian Walsh with eight each. Quincy Diggs had four, then nailed six of the 10 overtime points.

Mike Douglas came back from his suspension with a worthwhile 15 points and a chance to tie the game with a runner at the end of overtime. He also had eight assists but six turnovers.

Final - 2.8.2012 1 2 Total
Buffalo Bulls (15-6, 8-2 MAC) 34 32 66
Central Michigan Chippewas (7-16, 2-8 MAC) 23 39 62

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Not a pretty game by any means, based on what everyone's saying. And the score seems to reflect that. At one point UB carried a 13-point lead in the second half but Central was able to tie the game up, and it comes back to turnovers yet again. They had just four in the entire game, and that's why they were able to hang around all night. But the difference in the end, yet again, was Javon McCrea and Mitchell Watt, who had similar lines and combined for 31 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks.

The long-term concern now is Trey Zeigler, who only played 15 minutes and very little of the second half due to an apparent injury. (Maybe that's why they only had four turnovers.) Olivier Mbaigoto picked up the slack and netted 18 points. But they weren't able to do a last-minute comeback despite UB breaking the mold by going 2-for-6 on free throws to close the game.

Suddenly Buffalo is the No. 2 team in the MAC and MAC East, AND THAT'S BECAUSE...

Final - 2.8.2012 1 2 Total
Ohio Bobcats (19-5, 7-3 MAC) 34 39 73
Toledo Rockets (11-13, 3-7 MAC) 38 39 77

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If you were like me, you saw the game was 15-0 and put it out of your memory. Yep, OHIO had a 15-zip lead on the Rockets to start the game. Not unlike the NIU game, Toledo finally learned that all teams, great and worse, fall behind early and suffer double-digit deficits, and it's how a team responds that defines their strength. UT responded by only being down one point at halftime. Brand new ballgame — and they only hit two 3-pointers the entire game.

Then it went the other way. Toledo erected a 13-point lead and looked to cruise away to the MAC West's first win over the East in 10 days. Suddenly the Bobcats took the lead late thanks to a D.J. Cooper-led rally. A Curtis Dennis three-point play gave 'em the lead ... and then weird things happening.

OHIO had a really atrocious possession wherein Cooper ran the clock down, couldn't find anyone open, and heaved up a potential winning-three that caught the front of the iron. UT kicked the ball out to run out the clock and Reese Holliday travelled with 2.6 seconds left, giving OHIO one more shot. Cooper looked to lob an alley-oop to Ivo Baltic, who fell down (possibly pushed, possibly trying to draw a foul) but nothing was called. UT made free throws and that was it.

And Rian Pearson finally gets a monster line (18 points, 16 rebounds) along with a victory. Matt Smith also totaled 18 points, 10 in the second half. Cooper for OHIO finished with 18 of his own along with five rebounds and five assists.

And the West finally won! The streak lasted for a good seven minutes until...

Final - 2.8.2012 1 2 Total
Kent St. Golden Flashes (17-6, 7-3 MAC) 32 30 62
Eastern Michigan Eagles (10-14, 5-5 MAC) 31 27 58

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This one ended strangely. Began weird, too, and maybe that was an omen. EMU began with a 16-7 lead, which eventually dissipated as expected. And after an ugly but prettier-than-expected game, KSU saw themselves with a lead thanks to a big Randal Holt 3-point shot. About 10 seconds were left on the clock and Kent State had a total of two team fouls in the second half. I was pretty sure they'd just keep fouling every time the Eagles inbounded the ball ... and then Darrell Lampley finally went in for the kill on a layup, but it was partially rejected.

Then EMU had to start fouling a bunch, only Jamell Harris was guilty of a foul before the in-bounds pass, which was an intentional foul. Kent State sank free throws to seal the game.

Lampley had a terrific night (18 points, seven assists) but Justin Greene had a remarkable game, considering EMU's interior defense is quite daunting. Greene had 17 points and six boards on 8-of-10 shooting.

And yes, EMU is still first in the MAC West.

Final - 2.8.2012 1 2 Total
Bowling Green Falcons (12-11, 6-4 MAC) 28 33 61
Ball St. Cardinals (12-10, 4-6 MAC) 24 30 54

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Helpful hint to those who want to be noticed: don't end your game first. I usually order these based on how I remember them, and holy hellbeans Bowling Green is "my" team. The second half was incredibly close and competitive until BGSU sank its free throws to claim the road victory. A'uston Calhoun powered his way to the top scoring night in the MAC with 27 points along with nine rebounds. For the Cardinals, Aaron Adeoye helped keep it close with a 10-point, 10-rebound game and Jarrod Jones poured in the usual 14 points and eight rebounds.

Short story: no, Ball State just looks a step behind everyone else right now. Billy Taylor, I'm not saying you need to update the resume, but it wouldn't hurt to at least locate the Word file on your computer.

And the updated crossover scoreboard: East 25, West 5. One more set of games.