Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - David DiLeo scored 19 points, Shawn Roundtree had 16, and Cecil Williams added 11 on Friday as the Central Michigan men's basketball team held off inspired Jackson State for a 70-63 nonconference victory before 2,444 at McGuirk Arena.
The win lifted CMU to 6-1 in its first game since it won the Great Alaska Shootout last weekend. The Chippewas play host to Montana State on Tuesday, Dec. 5 (7 p.m.).
CMU led 37-28 at halftime and never trailed in the second half. It finally put away the Tigers (2-6) with a late 6-0 run, utilizing good defense, a strong performance from the bench and unselfishness, three traits that are emerging as trademarks through the first quarter of the season.
"I don't know that I would have predicted 6-1 in our first seven games, but I think I knew that we had a team that might have been better than people thought coming in," CMU coach Keno Davis said. "Preseason expectations are pretty much based off of statistics of what you've lost and not so much of what's coming in, and I thought pretty highly of this team -- an improved rebounding team and maybe a good defensive team."
Reserve guard Gavin Peppers scored on a drive with 3:31 to play to put the Chippewas up, 64-59, and then hit a jumper less than a minute later to extend the advantage to 66-59. Roundtree made two free throws with 1:44 remaining to up the CMU lead to nine, 68-59, as the Chippewas finally finished off the inspired Tigers. Peppers finished with nine points.
"We knew we had our hands full," Davis said. "Every team that we talked to who had played them said the same thing, how hard that team plays and we saw it first hand. Might not have been the prettiest game ... (but) there are a lot of positives, some things that we can build on, and hopefully just get better from."
Paris Collins scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and made seven steals to lead Jackson State, which made 39.1 percent of its field goal attempts. The Chippewas overcame a sluggish start to finish 52.3 percent from the floor. They made eight of their 18 3-point tries (44.4 percent).
Statistically, Davis said, it was all to the good for the Chippewas, except for their 17 turnovers, a high number by their standards. CMU entered the game averaging 11.7 per game, the 34th lowest among 351 Division I teams.
Roundtree, the Chippewa point guard, finished with four assists and six turnovers.
"For me six turnovers is too much," he said. "I think Jackson State did a good job of speeding us up and getting us out of our offense a little bit. We just stayed together and that's what got us the win."
Luke Meyer added eight points and a team-high six rebounds for CMU, which finished with a 32-31 edge on the boards. It marked the fifth time in seven games this season that the Chippewas have won the rebounding battle.
DiLeo, a sophomore, had five rebounds and finished a perfect four-of-four from the free throw line. The Chippewas were 16-for-19 from the charity stripe.
"Obviously we have some things to work on, but you know in December you're not looking to play your best basketball, you're looking to play your best basketball in March," DiLeo said. "Even though we struggle at times, (opponents) go on runs, we're able to come together, play tough, make big plays and find ways to win.
"It's great to start 6-1, but we're definitely looking to come out, get better in practice every day and improve and play our basketball down the road."