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Mid-American Notebook

February 25, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Mid-American Conference Notebook

by Jeremy Speer

Thrust onto the national spotlight during Saturday’s Bracket Buster, it was a make-or-break weekend for Mid-American Conference teams. The MAC’s three best teams were faced with tough challenges and the trio passed with flying colors. Western Michigan and Kent State continue to add to their NCAA Tournament resumes with victories against College of Charleston and Creighton, respectively.

Miami, who has been hot of late, looks to be in good shape for at least an NIT bid with a win against Southwest Missouri State. The MAC’s other potential postseason team, Toledo, took a hit as guard Keith Triplett broke his nose in a loss at Nevada.

Kann clutch in Western win

In front of the largest crowd ever at Kalamazoo’s University Arena, senior forward Anthony Kann calmly lifted his team to victory. Down two points with less than three seconds to go against College of Charleston, the Broncos inbounded the ball to Kann. Rather than rushing an off-balance jumper, Kann used a shot fake, which the Cougars defender bit on. Kann collected himself and drilled a mid-range jumper to push the game into overtime. Kann had 13 points in the game. Mike Williams continued his elevated play, collecting 28 points and eight rebounds. He is the MAC’s second leading scorer. Junior Ben Reed contributed 15 points in the win, as the Broncos pushed their record to 20-3. Western hosts archrival Central Michigan Wednesday before traveling to Toledo Saturday.

Creighton’s nemesis: The MAC

Creighton coach Dana Altman would be wise to stay away from MAC schools in the future.

Last season, pitted against Central Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Blue Jays fell to the Chippewas. This year, Creighton faced Kent State in front of a nationally televised audience and fell 70-55. After an even first half, the Flashes were brilliant in the second half, embarking upon a 19-0 run which put Creighton away. Jason Edwin continued his improvement with a 25-point performance while Eric Haut chipped in 18 points. With the win, Kent State (20-3) reached the 20-win plateau for the sixth consecutive season. It is the only school in MAC history to do so.

The Flashes are at Buffalo and Akron this week.

Early lead propels Miami

Looking to remain hot for the MAC Tournament, Miami opened a large first-half lead the win against SMS. Senior leader Juby Johnson connected on 4-of-5 three pointers for a game-high 24 points. Johnson also was 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. Miami connected on 13 three-pointers on the game. Josh Hausfeld also had four triples and finished with 16 points in the game. If their position stands as it is today, the RedHawks would secure a first-round bye in the upcoming MAC Tournament. However, with a 10-4 conference mark, Miami cannot look past No. 4-seed Toledo, who would not get a bye as it stands today.

The RedHawks are at Northern Illinois Wednesday before hosting Buffalo Saturday.

Triplett’s nose busted in loss

Despite losing MAC third-leading scorer Keith Triplett in the first half, Toledo nearly pulled a momentous upset at Nevada. The Wolf Pack’s Garry Hill-Thomas connected on a tip-in to lift Nevada to a 60-58 win in Reno. Triplett, who is the focal point of Toledo’s offense, left with just five points in the first half.

Sammy Villegas attempted to pick the scoring up in Triplett’s stead and connected on a three-pointer to tie the game with under a minute left. Villegas led the Rockets with 14 points and eight rebounds. The win was Nevada’s 13th consecutive home victory and bodes well for its ability to slip into the NCAA Tournament. The Rockets need Triplett back for a pair of crucial games this week at Bowling Green and home against Western Michigan.

Other Bracket Buster Action

Every other MAC team was in action on Bracket Buster Saturday and winners were Central Michigan against Evansville, Bolwing Green against Youngstown State, Eastern Michigan against Cleveland State and Buffalo against Indiana State. Falling were Ball State against Detroit, Akron against Drake, Ohio against Butler, Northern Illinois against Bradley and Marshall against Western Kentucky.


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