Saturday, December 7 • 8 p.m. ET
Central Michigan will begin a three-game road swing when it takes the court against SIU Edwardsville on Saturday. The stretch is the Chippewas’ longest away from home this season. CMU does not play at home in December for the first time since the 1936-37 season when it played just two games in the month, both on the road, at Albion and at Alma. CMU will be back at home next on Friday, Jan. 3 when it hosts Marygrove in a 7 p.m. game at McGuirk Arena.
Saturday will mark the first meeting between Central Michigan and SIU Edwardsville. Central Michigan is 2-0 versus Ohio Valley Conference opponents this season, defeating Austin Peay on November 21, 90-75, and Jacksonville State on November 30, 66-61.
SOLID AT THE STRIPE
Central Michigan leads the Mid-American Conference and ranks sixth nationally in free throw percentage, shooting 79.4 percent (139-175). Blake Hibbitts (.917, 11-12), John Simons (.900, 18-20), Austin Stewart (.900, 9-10) and Rayshawn Simmons (.875, 14-16) lead the Chippewas at the charity stripe.
In each of its first three wins of the 2013 season, CMU lit up the scoreboard, posting 90 or more points. In the last two games, the Chippewas showed they don’t necessarily need to be offensively prolific to win, claiming close victories while scoring in the 60s. On November 26, CMU downed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on the road, 68-64, and four days later beat Jacksonville State at home, 66-61.
Central Michigan is taking care of the basketball through its first eight games. CMU is averaging just 9.3 turnovers per game, the best mark in the MAC. The Chippewas also rank second in the conference and 12th in the NCAA in turnover margin (+5.2). Central Michigan is also ranked second in the MAC in assist/turnover ratio (1.5). Chris Fowler is third in the MAC with an assist/turnover ratio of 2.9 (40/14) while Rayshawn Simmons ranks sixth at 2.0 (26/13).
FOWLER PICKING UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF
Chris Fowler has shown in CMU’s eight games that his standout freshman season was no fluke. Fowler currently leads CMU with 5.0 assists per game, which ranks third in the MAC. He is also fourth in the conference in scoring (16.1) and seventh in field goal percentage (.571). For his efforts, Fowler, who earned MVP honors of the Central Michigan Tournament earlier in November, was named to the MAC Team of the Month for November by collegehoopsdaily.com. 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 STARTS STRONG
John Simons has gotten off to a fast start to the 2013-14 with double-digit scoring performances in six of the first eight games. Last year, he had just nine in 31 total games. In the season opener versus Manchester, he posted a career-high 27 points Manchester and the followed up with 14 at Bradley. He has scored in double figures in three straight games (15, 11, 10) entering the match-up with SIUE. The sophomore also led CMU in rebounding in five of the eight games this season. He ranks eighth in the MAC in rebounding (6.5) and 17th in scoring (12.0). Last year, Simons averaged just 7.4 ppg and 4.9 rpg.
FRESHMEN MAKING EARLY IMPACT
The freshmen class has made an immediate impact through eight games of the 2013-14 season. Braylon Rayson has given Keno Davis not just key minutes off the bench to spell Chris Fowler at point guard but he has given the Chippewas another scoring threat. The Texas native is fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 9.1 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. Josh Kozinski (4.0 ppg) and Nick Carlos (2.1 ppg) have also seen extensive action, giving CMU two additional three-point scoring options.