MT. PLEASANT, Mich -- There was a period of time Saturday when the only way Miami’s RedHawks might have stopped Marcus Keene was to make sure he never touched the ball – anywhere on the court!
Keene, a 5-9 junior transfer, scored a career high 50 points as Central Michigan came from behind to defeat Miami 101-92 at McGuirk Arena. More than half of Keene’s total came during a second half stretch when he provided all 26 of the Chippewas points. During Keene’s personal run, the hosts went from trailing 74-73 to owning a 99-87 lead with 1:20 remaining.
CMU coach Keno Davis . . .
“I don’t know too many teams that could (withstand) what he did today,” Cooper said. “Some of those shots, there is just nothing you can do.”
“He’s shooting stepbacks from about 33 (or) 34 feet over a 6-9 guy,” said Cooper, alluding to period late in the run where Miami forward Logan McLane came out to try and alter the junior’s shots.
He was “so far away from the 3-point line, at times you just felt like he’s heaving it,” Cooper said. “Some of those shot, there is nothing you can do.”
“I was just hot today and my teammates kept finding me,” Keene said. “To score 50 points in a college basketball game, that’s anybody’s dream who’s a scorer, and I accomplished it. It feels good.”
Keene’s performance was made all the more remarkable considering that he injured an ankle eight days ago in a win over Toledo. On Wedneday, he scored 29 points in a loss at Ball State.
“It’s still sore; there’s still pain,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot of treatment in those days in between. I’ve just got to play through it. It’s conference play. I didn’t want to let my team down against Ball State or today.”
Keene aided his spectacular day with a 10 for 10 performance at the free throw line. That was part of a 19 for 21 (90 %) day for the Chippewas at the stripe. Miami was 18 for 28 (64%).
Central Michigan entered the weekend atop the MAC in free throws, hitting 76.8 percent of its tosses. Miami was eighth at 67.9 percent.
Of course, the Chippewas were also first in scoring (88.7 ppg) and last on scoring defense (82.9 ppg). Both teams eclipsed their offensive averages as Miami ranked ninth with a 73.3 ppg average and scored 92.
Freshman Michael Weathers led Miami with 24 points, hitting 9 of 19 from the field and 5 of 8 from the line. Twin brother Marcus made 9 of 7 shots from the floor on the way to 19 points before leaving the game after falling to the floor hard following a tip-dunk put-back in the final minutes. He was one rebound short of a double-double.
McLane provided 18 points and eight rebounds, while Jake Wright was one short of his Miami career high with 16 points.
Central Michigan had only two players in double figures. Joining Keene was guard Braylon Rayson. The senior hit 7 of 18 treys while scoring 21 points. Between them, Keene and Brayson connected on 14 of 23 3-point attempts. As a team, the Chippewas were good on 20 of 33 triples (60%). By contrast, Miami made 6 of 21 (28.6%) from beyond the arc, and four of those came from Wright.
Both teams held leads through the first half, but Miami pulled in front, 36-35, on a pair of Marcus Weathers free throws at 3:33. It was part of a 13-0 Miami run up to intermission.
The RedHawks were up 45-35 at the break thanks in large part to a 22-2 advantage from points in the paint. They also held advantages on points off turnovers (16-6), second chance points (13-3), fast break points (10-0) and points off the bench (16-3).
By 13:47 of the final period, CMU had knocked the deficit down to one point, 54-53. However, Miami held the home squad until a Cecil Williams dunk at 9:17 for a 67-66 edge.
There were three lead changes and one tie before Keene hit a trey from the corner at 6:43. That put the hosts in front, 76-74.
While the RedHawks were able to score 13 points in the next 5:23, Keene was adding 23 of his own to put the game away for Central Michigan.
“The kind of game that he put up tonight, it was something,” Davis said. “I feel like every time I’m watching Marcus, I’m seeing something that’s a career night. Hopefully we’ll continue to see more of it.”
Central Michigan, which eclipsed 100 points for the sixth time this season, raised its record to 17-7 overall, 2-4 MAC. Three of the four MAC losses were by five or less points.
Miami, meanwhile, remained winless on the road this season while falling to 8-11, 1-5 MAC.
The RedHawks will try to break their current five-game losing skid when they return home to face Buffalo Tuesday (7 p.m. ET). Central Michigan hosts Bowling Green Tuesday (7 p.m. ET).