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MAC Notebook

December 24, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

Mid-American Conference Notebook

by Adam Trumble

Last season, Central Michigan won one road game — its Mid-American Conference Tournament first round game at Ohio.

This season is looking like an entirely different story as the Chippewas have already won three.

After dropping their first road game of the season by more than 40 points at DePaul, the Chippewas have rebounded to win at Michigan, Marist and last Wednesday at Bradley.

Chippewa senior guard J.R. Wallace, who verbally committed to Bradley before changing his mind and attending Central, scored a game high 23-points in the victory. Junior center Chris Kaman, second in the country in rebounding at 12.4 a game, chipped in 15 points and 16 rebounds to help the Chippewas hang on to a 74-71 victory.

Kaman fouled out with less than three minutes remaining leaving the Chippewas without their seven-foot All-American candidate.

Senior forward Mike Manciel iced the game with three clutch free throws in the final minutes, giving the Chippewas their sixth win on the season. Central’s 6-1 start is the school’s best since 1981.

After winning only nine games last season and losing former MAC Player of the Year David Webber, the Chippewas were predicted to finish sixth in the Mid-American Conference West Division. But with Theron Smith out of Ball State’s lineup for the season, the West is very open and the Chippewas could contend for their second title in three years.

Broncos trample major schools

Western Michigan continued its hot start to the season with convincing victories at Auburn (72-54) and at home against Virginia Tech (75-55).

For third-year head coach Robert McCullum, it was his first trip back to his native state of Alabama as a head coach. McCullum grew up in Birmingham and graduated from Birmingham Southern. McCullum was given his first collegiate coaching job when current Auburn head coach Cliff Ellis hired him at South Alabama in 1982.

Led by senior guard Robby Collum’s 17 points and junior forward Anthony Kann’s second double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, the Broncos were able to claim their sixth win.

Despite having the best shooting percentage in the nation, the Tigers shot just 30 percent in the first half and committed 15 turnovers, scoring just 19 points. It was the fourth consecutive contest that the Broncos held their opponents to under 20 first half points.

A 22-2 run, led by Collum with 10 points, spanning over nine minutes in the first half was all that the Broncos needed to defeat the Hokies. Collum finished with 16 points, six assists, and a pair of steals. Kann added 14 points and six rebounds.

Western’s defense, which entered the game ranked No. 4 in the nation in points allowed per game (54 PPG), again allowed under 60 points. Only two opponents this year (Princeton, UC-Irvine) have scored more than 60-points against Western Michigan.

Bobcats struggle but win

Steve Esterkamp drilled a three-pointer with 2:01 remaining to give Ohio a 51-50 lead and the Bobcats held on to defeat Navy, 54-52. The win in the Bobcats’ home opener improved their record to 2-4.

Poor shooting hurt both teams as the Bobcats hit a season-low 27.6 percent. The Bobcats shot just 5-of-26 (19.2 percent) from three-point range. Navy hit 40 percent of their shots but turned the ball over 20 times. MAC Preseason Player of the Year Brandon Hunter led all scorers with 17 points, while adding 11 rebounds. It was Hunter’s fifth double-double of the season.

Ohio, preseason East Division favorites according to the media, stumbled to a 1-4 start before their home opener. The road ahead for the Bobcats doesn’t get easier as they travel to Wisconsin and host St. Bonaventure before the New Year. The Bobcats then have a meeting with Kentucky in Cincinnati on Jan. 4.

11 month streak ends for Kent State

Kent State had its 21-game regular season winning streak snapped on the road to St. Bonaventure, 93-80.

The loss was the Golden Flashes first in regular season play since a 66-65 setback at Buffalo on Jan. 9. The Bonnies never trailed in the contest after knocking down a three-pointer just six seconds into the game.

Four Golden Flashes scored in double figures, led by senior forward Antonio Gates who had 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists, all team highs.

Before the winning streak was snapped, Kent added to it and posted the best start in school history with a 89-84 win at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Gates led the Golden Flashes with 26 points and seven rebounds. Gates shot 9-of-15 from the floor and 7-for-8 from the free throw line.

Hoopville’s Mid-American Conference Player of the Week

Western Michigan Broncos senior guard Robby Collum. Collum scored 17 points in a win at Auburn and added 16 points, six assists, and a pair of steals in a win against Virginia Tech.


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