GAME NOTES: The Niagara Purple Eagles will continue their five-game road swing
on Sunday afternoon when they travel to McGuirk Arena to take on the Central
Niagara has dropped its first two games on the road trip, falling to St.
Bonaventure (80-75) and Iona (83-72) in a rare early-season Metro Atlantic
Athletic Conference bout. Head coach Joe Mihalich, who is already the all-time
winningest coach in MAAC history, is just two wins away from 250 for his
CMU's campaign got off to a solid start in head coach Keno Davis' first
season, winning three of its first five games, including a pair of contests
over Wright State (59-55) and Idaho State (54-52) in the Utah Thanksgiving
Tournament. The Chippewas returned home on Wednesday and suffered a
disappointing 82-65 loss to Bradley.
Niagara has gone undefeated in three all-time games against CMU, most recently
winning, 61-55, in a 2011 BracketBuster matchup.
The Eagles are flying high on the young season on offense, scoring nearly 79
ppg, but they have suffered a losing record through six games because they
cannot stop anybody on the defensive end of the court. Opponents are draining
48.2 percent from the field (including 45.3 percent from three-point range)
against them en route to 84.2 ppg. It was much of the same for Niagara in the
loss to Iona, as a team put up 80 points or more on it for the fifth time.
Leading four players in double figures for the Eagles was Antoine Mason, who
had 24 points on 9-of-16 from the field. Marvin Jordan scored 14 points, Ameen
Tanksley logged 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Juan'ya Green chipped in 12
points and five assists. On the season, the squad has been paced by its
dynamic duo at guard, as Mason (18.5 ppg) and Green (15.8 ppg) have scored in
double figures each game. Mason is shooting 46.8 percent from the field, and
Green has handed out a team-high 35 assists (5.8 pg). Rounding out the
balanced scoring attack is Tanksley (11.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Jordan (10.5 ppg).
While Niagara has been losing games with a potent scoring attack, CMU has been
winning in spite of its offense, as it makes good on a lowly 37.3 percent of
its field goal attempts for 61 ppg, but it has been able to hold opponents to
62 points or less in all three of its wins. The Chippewas were not at their
best on the defensive end of the floor against Bradley however, as they Braves
shot 36-of-67 in the Chippewas' 17-point loss. The team turned the ball over
18 times in the defeat, and Kyle Randall was the only player to finish in
double figures with 21 points on a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line. It
was no mistake that Randall was the go-to guy on the night. At 12.3 ppg, he's
the only player on the team who is averaging more than eight points per
contests, but his field goal percentage (.355) leaves much to be desired.
Chris Fowler starts at point guard, and although he scores just 5.2 ppg, he
hands out a team-best 4.0 ppg and swipes a steal per game.
Both teams have shown plenty of inconsistencies early on, with Niagara being
vulnerable on the defensive end of the court and CMU having difficulty putting
up points. The teams will probably meet somewhere in the middle in this one,
but count on the Eagles' guard play to lead them to victory .
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Niagara 68, Central Michigan 66