Cleveland State (7-4) at Akron (5-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 23, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: James A. Rhodes Arena (5,500) -- Akron, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: Cleveland State 4-0, Akron 3-0. Away Record: Cleveland State 0-4, Akron 0-3. Neutral Record: Cleveland State 3-0, Akron 2-1. Conference Record: Cleveland State 0-0, Akron 0-0. Series Record: Akron leads, 34-31.
GAMES NOTES: In the second game of a season-long six-contest homestand the Akron Zips will host the Cleveland State Vikings at James A. Rhodes Arena Sunday afternoon.
Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters earned his 300th career win when the Vikings topped Notre Dame (OH) on Wednesday. The win snapped a two-game losing skid for the Vikings and improved their record to 7-4 overall. Though this road trip is certainly not a long one, the Vikings have gone 0-4 away from home this season.
Akron also put an end to a two-game losing slide last time out when it routed Arkansas-Pine Bluff 76-46 in the first game of this home stretch. Akron is 5-4 overall on the year and has yet to lose in three tries at Rhodes Arena. The next game in the homestand will be on Thursday when the Zips host Texas Southern.
These teams are separated by just 40 miles and have met 65 times previously. The series has been tight, with Akron owning a slim 34-31 lead. Cleveland State has closed the gap with wins in the last two meetings.
Cleveland State separated itself in the second half against Notre Dame (OH) by shooting a scorching 72.7 percent clip from the field including a 4-of-7 effort from beyond the arc in the second half. The hot shooting helped the Vikings overcome 21 turnovers. Five different players scored in double figures
Despite its winning record, Cleveland State is actually being outscored by a slim margin (-0.5) this season. The Vikings score 68.9 points per game and are the second-best shooting team in the Horizon League (44.9 percent). Charlie Lee (14.23 ppg, 4.8 apg) can score and distribute with equal effectiveness. He is one of three players to have started all 11 games. Anton Grady (13.7 ppg) has missed the last five games with a knee injury and is still listed as out. Marlin Mason (9.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Tim Kamczyc (10.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg) aid in scoring and rebounding.
The Zips were sharp from beyond the arc against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, nailing 11 3-pointers. Akron also limited the Golden Lions to 29.1 percent shooting overall in the game. Zeke Marshall scored 13 points and dominated inside with five blocks.
Marshall has been a menace in the paint on the defensive end this season. Marshall has blocked more shots (39) than 204 teams at the Division I level. The 7-foot center has also increased his scoring (11.6 ppg) and rebounding efforts (6.8 pg) from a year ago. Brian Walsh (10.1 ppg) is the only other player scoring in double figures but four others score at least 8.4 points per game. Alex Abreu (9.6 ppg, 5.8 apg) is one such player who has also facilitates the offense. The balance has allowed the Zips to score at a Mid- American Conference leading 76.8 points per game.
Playing on the road has already proved to be a difficult task for Cleveland State. It won't get any easier against Marshall and company who will be able to slow the Vikings down enough to earn the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Akron 70, Cleveland State 62
12/23 10:33:46 ET