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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 2, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McGuirk Arena (5,300) -- Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: Niagara 2-1, CMU 1-1. Away Record: Niagara 0-2, CMU 0-2. Neutral Record: Niagara 0-1, CMU 2-0. Conference Record: Niagara 0-1, CMU 0-0. Series Record: Niagara leads, 3-0.
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 Michigan Chippewas.
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 career.
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
12/02 10:37:28 ET
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