Central Michigan (8-6) at Toledo (5-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 12, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Savage Arena (7,300)-- Toledo. Ohio. Television: SportsTime Ohio/ESPN3.com. Home Record: CMU 4-1, Toledo 2-1. Away Record: CMU 1-4, Toledo 3-6. Neutral Record: CMU 3-1, Toledo 0-0. Conference Record: CMU 1-0, Toledo 1-0. Series Record: Toledo leads, 55-32.
GAME NOTES: The Toledo Rockets welcome the Central Michigan Chippewas to Savage Arena for Saturday's Mid-American Conference showdown.
After dropping Bowling Green in a 73-67 final on Wednesday night, the Chippewas are winners of four of their last six, with losses to the Big Ten's Nebraska and No. 2 Michigan. This year's CMU squad is the first since 2002-03 and just the second in the last 25 years to reach seven non-conference wins.
Toledo is hoping to build momentum from Wednesday's 70-58 victory at Kent State. It was the Rockets' first in a conference opener in five years and also ended a five-game losing streak against the Golden Flashes. Toledo has played the fewest home contests (three) of any MAC school.
Toledo leads the all-time series, 54-33. CMU had won six in a row until the Rockets claimed a 72-67 win on their home court last year, then knocked CMU out of the MAC Tournament with a 75-72 second-round victory.
Against Bowling Green, the Chippewas certainly had their ups and down, as they established a 23-point lead with strong shooting for 23 minutes, but the lead evaporated when the Falcons started connecting at a 67 percent clip from the field in the second half while also holding CMU to just two field goals in the final 17:38. Central Michigan ultimately held off the rally with a good performance at the foul line and never let BGSU take a second-half lead. Kyle Randall notched a new McGuirk Arena record with 31 points, doing so on 8-of-11 shooting, and 13 free throws.
CMU is averaging 68.1 ppg but giving up 69.9 ppg. It has a negative rebounding margin (-1.1) and a negative turnover margin (-0.8). One bright spot is that the Chippewas rank second in the MAC with a .732 free throw percentage, which is just behind Toledo's .774 mark. Randall leads the MAC with a .917 free throw percentage and ranks third in league scoring at 16.6 ppg in his first season in a CMU uniform.
The Rockets' victory over Golden Flashes was their first at Kent State since Jan. 29, 2000. Rian Pearson led Toledo's attack with a game-high 27 points. Dominique Buckley and Nathan Boothe joined Pearson in double figures with 15 and 10 points, respectively. Julius Brown was an excellent floor general as he dished out 10 assists and committed just one turnover to go along with seven points and six rebounds in 37 minutes. Toledo shot 43.9 percent from the field, including a 56 percent effort in the second half and held the Golden Flashes to 32.1 percent, making it the fourth straight game Toledo has held its opponent under 37.0 percent.
Toledo features the MAC's top scorer is Pearson (19.8 ppg). Brown also appears in the top-10 with his 13.0 ppg. Toledo is also one of the MAC's top free- throw shooting squads, leading the conference at 77.4 percent, and ranks sixth in the nation, after leading the league last year with a .726 mark.
Expect the home team to pull out the victory, as the Rockets defense should be the difference between two evenly matched squads.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 70, Central Michigan 67
01/12 10:41:19 ET