Western Michigan (11-7) at Central Michigan (9-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 26, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McGuirk Arena (5,300) -- Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Television: MHTV. Home Record: WMU 6-1. CMU 5-2. Away Record: WMU 3-6, CMU 1-6. Neutral Record: WMU 2-0, CMU 3-1. Conference Record: WMU 3-2, CMU 2-3. Series Record: WMU leads, 82-46.
GAMES NOTES: The Western Michigan Broncos will ride a three-game winning streak into a Mid-American Conference battle with the Central Michigan Chippewas at McGuirk Arena on Saturday.
On its home floor Western Michigan managed to slip by Eastern Michigan, 63-59, to earn its first three-game winning streak since taking six straight games at the end of November. The Broncos are now 11-7 overall, including a 3-2 mark against MAC opponents. When it has gone on the road Western Michigan has managed just three wins in nine tries. The Broncos remain on the road next Wednesday against Miami-Ohio.
For the third time in the last four games Central Michigan found itself in the loss column with a 74-61 defeat to Northern Illinois on Wednesday night. The loss dropped the Chippewas to an even 9-9 this season and 2-3 against league foes. The setback was also the second loss of the season for Central Michigan in seven games at McGuirk Arena. Central Michigan will play three of its next four on the road beginning with Buffalo.
A year ago these teams split the season series with the home team coming out on top each time. The all-time series has not been so even with Western Michigan owning an 82-46 edge.
A 50-percent shooting effort in the second half, along with an 11-5 edge from the free-throw line allowed Western Michigan to separate itself from Eastern Michigan. The Broncos had a 22-14 edge on points in the paint in the contest but had to overcome a 34-28 deficit on the boards.
One encouraging development from the contest was Nate Hutcheson's effort. The 6-foor-7 forward (11.3 ppg) is one of three players scoring in double figures but before his 12-point showing against EMU he had failed to put in more than 10 points Dec. 29 against NC State. Shayne Whittington (11.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and Darius Paul (11.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg) are the other two players averaging in double figures for the Broncos.
While Western Michigan rallied in the second half on Wednesday, Central Michigan crumbled. The Chippewas shot at just a 29.2 percent clip in the final 20 minutes, suffering the 13-point loss to Northern Illinois. That including just a 3-of-13 effort from beyond the arc.
Central Michigan can't claim much of an advantage over Western Michigan in terms of offensive success. The Chippewas are scoring 67.2 points per game but shooting at just a 40.5 percent clip. Kyle Randall (16.5 ppg) has done all he can to carry the squad offensively. The 5-foot-10 guard is fourth in the conference in scoring and the only player on the roster averaging in double figures. He had just 12 points against Northern Illinois but has been in double figures in 13 straight games. Olivier Mbaigoto (7.8 ppg) is the second leading scorer for the Chippewas.
In a game that will likely feature very little in terms of offensive firepower having a scorer as prolific as Randall will be a benefit for Central Michigan. However with the Broncos' size and depth inside he will have to settle for jump shots which could play into Western Michigan's favor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 65, Central Michigan 63
01/26 10:31:44 ET