Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
Game Notes: CMU Battles Buffalo on Saturday in McGuirk
GAME 22: CENTRAL MICHIGAN (8-13, 1-8 MAC) vs. BUFFALO (12-7, 6-3 MAC)
Saturday, Feb. 8 • 7 p.m.
McGuirk Arena • Mount Pleasant, Mich.

BROADCAST INFORMATION
Live Stats: CMUChippewas.com
Audio: CMUChippewas.com
Video: CMUChippewas.com
Radio: 95.3 WCFX-FM, 98.5 WUPS-FM - Don Chiodo (play-by-play), Marcelo Olivarez (color analyst)
TV: WCMU

GAME NOTES
Central Michigan | Buffalo


For an insiders look at the 2013-14 Chippewas, click HERE to view the Central Michigan Men’s Basketball MAC Guide. Find feature stories, coach and player bios, videos and much more.


GAME PREVIEW
• Central Michigan will look to put together its first conference winning streak of the season on Saturday when it hosts Buffalo in a 7 p.m. cross-divisional contest at McGuirk Arena.
• On Wednesday, behind a double-double by sophomore forward John Simons, the Chippewas snapped an eight-game MAC losing streak, defeating Kent State, 78-73, in overtime.
• Buffalo is coming off a commanding 69-48 defeat of Ball State at home earlier this week.
• CMU is 6-5 at home this season while Buffalo owns a 2-5 road record.
• The Chippewas are on the road next week for two games, traveling to face Northern Illinois (Feb. 12) and Kent State (Feb. 15).

CMU-BUFFALO SERIES
• Central Michigan possesses a 12-13 all-time record versus Buffalo in a series that date back to 1975.
• CMU has dropped five straight meetings with the Bulls, including two last season, one in the regular season (91-73) and another in the MAC Tournament (74-72, OT).

BUFFALO SCOUTING REPORT
• Former Duke All-American guard Bobby Hurley, in his first season as Buffalo’s head coach, leads a veteran group, as all five starters are upperclassmen.
• Buffalo possesses a 5-2 record against MAC West opponents this season.
• The Bulls’ three conferences losses (vs. Toledo, Ball State and Bowling Green) have come by a total of 11 points.
• Buffalo leads the MAC in three-point field goal defense (.273) and is ranked second in rebounding offense (37.4) and assists (15.9).
• A leading candidate for MAC Player of the Year honors, senior forward Javon McCrea ranks second in the conference in rebounding (9.6) and is third in scoring (17.6) and is the team leader in steals (31).
• Joshua Freelove (12.5) and Will Regan (11.0) also averages double digits in scoring while Jarod Oldham is second in the MAC in assists (5.3).

YOUTH MOVEMENT
Central Michigan’s roster is dominated by youth, as 11 of 15 players are underclassmen (freshmen or sophomores). The Chippewas’ starting line-up is comprised of four sophomores and one freshman. Of the total 4,225 minutes played by CMU this season, 3,598 or 85 percent have been logged by underclassmen while 86 percent (1,346-1,561)of the team’s points have come from either a freshman or sophomore.

TAKING CARE
Central Michigan is taking care of the basketball this season. CMU is averaging 11.0 turnovers per game, which ranks second in the MAC. The Chippewas are first in the conference in turnover margin (+3.2) and third in assist/turnover ratio (1.1). Individually, Chris Fowler ranks fourth in the MAC with an assist/turnover ratio of 1.9 (103/53).

FOWLER LEADS CMU
Chris Fowler has definitively shown this year that his standout freshman season was no fluke. The sophomore point guard is the MAC’s second-leading scorer, averaging 17.9 points per game, ranks fourth in assist/turnover ratio (1.9) and in assists (4.9). In conference play, he ranks No. 1 in scoring (19.8). The MVP of the Central Michigan Tournament, he has scored in double figures in 18 games, including 10 20-point efforts, and has led the team in scoring in 12 games. With 279 assists for his career, Fowler is just seven shy of moving into the top 10 in the CMU record book. In 2012-13, Fowler set the program record for a freshman with 176 assists, which also ranks third all-time in single season history, securing him a spot on the All-MAC Freshman team. A starter of all 31 games, Fowler also averaged 8.1 points and 5.7 assists per game and had a sterling 2.2 assist/turnover ratio in his first collegiate season.

SIMONS MAKING KEY CONTRIBUTIONS
In addition to Chris Fowler, John Simons has been key to CMU’s fortunes thus far in the 2013-14 season. The sophomore forward has recorded double-digit scoring performances in 14 of 21 games. Last year, he had just nine in 31 total games. In the season opener versus Manchester, he posted a career-high 27 points. In CMU’s first conference win over Kent State, Simons notched a doube-double, totaling 22 points and 11 assists. Simons has scored in double figures in 10 of the last 13 games entering the match-up with Buffalo. The sophomore has also led CMU in rebounding in 13 of the 21 games this season. He ranks 12th in the MAC in rebounding (6.3) and 24th in scoring (11.3). By comparison, Simons averaged 7.4 ppg and 4.9 rpg last season.

RAYSON MAKING AN IMPACT
While several members of the freshman class have made an immediate impact this season, none has been as sizeable as the one made by Braylon Rayson. The speedy and cat-quick Rayson has given Keno Davis not just key minutes off the bench to spell Chris Fowler at point guard or as a starter in the back court, but he has given the Chippewas another scoring threat. The Texas native is third on the team in scoring, averaging 9.7 points per game. At the Central Michigan Tournament, Rayson scored a total of 43 points in three games, including a career-high 18 in a win over Austin Peay. Versus Marygrove, Rayson went off for a career-high 27, shooting 69 percent from the field.

SOLID AT THE STRIPE
Despite up-and-down performances at the line of late, Central Michigan is ranked second in the Mid-American Conference in free throw shooting (.739). Austin Stewart (.829, 34-of-41), John Simons (.800, 36-of-45) and Rayshawn Simmons (.791, 34-of-43). In CMU’s 90-75 win over Austin Peay on November 21, the Chippewas made 24-of-26 free throws (92.3%) and against Western Michigan on February 1 they made 25-of-27 (92.6%), with Chris Fowler knocking down 13-of-13.

RECORD-SETTING OUTING
In the Chippewas’ 127-44 rout of Marygrove in the non-conference finale, CMU broke the program record for largest margin of victory and tied the mark for most points in the game. The 83-point margin of victory easily topped the previous high of 71, set in a 107-36 win over Hillsdale on February 28, 1963. The Chippewas also reached the 127-point milestone in a victory over Oakland on December 3, 1987. Individually, five players established new career highs in scoring, led by freshman guard Braylon Rayson, who tallied a game-high 27 points. Rayson’s point total was just four shy of the McGuirk Arena record of 31, set by Kyle Randall in 2013.

NON-CONFERENCE VICTORIES
With the 127-44 victory over Marygrove, CMU finished the non-conference portion of its schedule with seven wins for the second consecutive year. In 2012-13, in his first season at Central Michigan, Keno Davis became only the second coach in the program’s Division I era to win seven non-conference games and the first to do so in his first year at the helm.

WINNING WAYS
In four wins this season, CMU has lit up the scoreboard, posting 90 or more points. In a span of three victories in late November, the Chippewas showed they don’t necessarily need to be offensively prolific to win, claiming close victories while scoring in the 60s. In late November-early December, CMU downed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on the road, 68-64, then beat Jacksonville State at home, 66-61, and topped SIU Edwardsville, 65-64, on the road.

CMU WINS HOME TOURNAMENT
CMU captured the title at its home tournament in late November, scoring 90 points in wins over Austin Peay and Cal State Northridge to keep the championship trophy in Mount Pleasant. Chris Fowler earned tournament MVP honors while Blake Hibbitts was named to the all-tournament team. Braylon Rayson was also key to the claiming the title, scoring 43 points in three games.

CLUTCH WHEN IT’S CLOSE
Central Michigan showed a knack for coming up with clutch plays in crunch time at the end of games early on in 2013-14. In a stretch of three games, the Chippewas claimed wins by a total of 10 points. Against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Blake Hibbitts knocked down a go-ahead three-pointer with 13 seconds remaining and Austin Keel made two free throws to secure the 68-64 win. Versus Jacksonville State, Hibbitts once again took center stage, hitting a key three-pointer and then sinking two free throws late to salt away a 66-61 victory. At SIU Edwardsville, Chris Fowler played the role of hero, hitting a game-winning shot with 6.2 seconds remaining.

CMU’S ROSTER IS HOME GROWN
Central Michigan’s current roster contains nine student-athletes who hail from the state of Michigan, which is more than any other Division I institution in the state, ranking ahead of Michigan State (7), Eastern Michigan (7), Western Michigan (7) and Michigan (2).

SUCCESS IN THE CLASSROOM
Hard work has also paid off for the Chippewas in the classroom, as the team was one of only 19 NCAA Division I programs to receive the Team Academic Excellence Award from the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Only one of two Mid-American Conference teams to earn the honor, which is based on the academic standing during the 2012-13 season, the award recognizes outstanding academic achievement by a team with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better. That success has continued this year as following the fall term, a record 10 student-athletes posted above a 3.0 grade point average during the fall term. Blake Hibbitts led the way with a 4.0 while senior forward Zach Saylor (3.50), sophomore guard Austin Stewart (3.48) and Fowler (3.44) also had strong academic semesters.

Fowler, Hibbitts and Simons were also nominees for CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-America recognition.

FATHER-SON COACHING TANDEMS
Keno and his father, Tom, are among the most successful father-son coaching duos in NCAA history. In 2008, Keno joined his father (Iowa, 1987) as the NCAA’s first father-son combination to capture national coach of the year awards. Dr. Tom compiled 597 wins over a 32-year career, and Keno has added 93 as the pair has combined for a 690-445 record and a 61 winning percentage, which ranks 11th among father-son combinations.

FOWLER A CANDIDATE FOR ALLSTATE NABC GOOD WORKS TEAM
Sophomore guard Chris Fowler is a candidate for the Allstate NABC Good Works Team, an honor that recognizes student-athletes who make outstanding contributions in the areas of volunteerism and civic involvement and embody the true spirit of “teamwork” and “giving back.”

The sophomore sensation is the MAC’s second-leading scorer, averaging 17.9 points per game and ranks fourth in assist/turnover ratio (1.9) and in assists (4.9). The MVP of the Central Michigan Tournament, he has scored in double figures in 18 games, including 10 20-point efforts, and has led the team in scoring in 12 games.

Fowler embodies the definition of a true student-athlete, as the excellence he has achieved on the basketball court is equaled by his accomplishments in the classroom. Fowler possesses a 3.43 cumulative GPA, including two semesters in which he averaged above a 3.50. During the fall of 2012, he was honored on the Dean’s List.

Despite the number of demands placed on a student-athlete, Fowler makes the time to take part in various community service activities. He worked with the Special OIympics basketball team last December, putting the athletes through drills while providing pointers on how to improve. He also volunteered with Meals on Wheels during the holidays, delivering food to at-risk seniors.

MEYER SIGNS WITH CHIPPEWAS
CMU has signed Luke Meyer, a 6-10, 205 forward from Addison High School, to a National Letter of Intent. He earned Class C first team all-state honors from the Associated Press and the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan as a junior last year, averaging 18.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.0 blocks. The Addison, Mich. native was also named to the Jackson Citizen Patriot Dream Team and was the Adrian Daily Telegram Player of the Year for the 2012-13 season.

 

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