AUSTIN, Texas – It was a sweet homecoming for Marcus Keene and Braylon Rayson.
And a sweet start to the Lone Star Showcase for the Central Michigan Chippewas.
Keene scored 36 points in another sensational performance in his first season as a Chippewa, and Rayson added 20 as CMU posted an 88-77 victory over Pepperdine on Monday at the H-E-B Center.
The Chippewas (4-0) play St. Bonaventure (1-2) on Tuesday (6 p.m.) and close the tournament on Wednesday (8:30 p.m.) against Little Rock (3-1).
Keene, who hails from San Antonio, continued . . .
“When you can recruit and get a player of that caliber he can make a coach look pretty smart when you just get the ball in his hands,” CMU coach Keno Davis said. “He puts up not only 36 points, but he gets seven assists and a couple of those passes he zipped across the court. As he gets better at that, I don’t know how you stop him.”
Leading 40-39 seconds into the second half, CMU went on a 21-4 run that started with a Josh Kozinski 3-pointer with 18:34 remaining and ended five minutes later on a Keene layup that put the Chippewas up 18, 61-43, with 13:32 to play.
Kozinski, who was 4-for-27 from the floor in CMU’s first three games, snapped out of his shooting slump by making five of his eight 3-point attempts to finish with 15 points.
Pepperdine (3-1) never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
“Pepperdine shoots 52 percent on us and out-rebounds us by eight, that’s usually not a great recipe to be able to get victories, let alone be able to pull away,” Davis said. “Our guards are pretty talented with the basketball. Ten turnovers to 20, I thought that was a big difference in the game.
“For us to be able to put 88 points up and really not use our pressure the entire second half, I think that says a lot about the skill of our guys and where they can end up as individuals and as a team.”
Keene, who transferred to CMU from Youngstown State, entered the game fourth in the nation in scoring at 30.3 points per game. His 36 points was a career high, and it marked the third time in his four games as a Chippewa he has scored at least 30.
He had 23 against Marygrove four nights ago before leaving with an injury with about 10 minutes remaining. He didn’t practice on Sunday, but showed no ill effects of the injury.
Lamond Murray scored 25 points to lead Pepperdine.
St. Bonaventure dropped a 68-65 decision to Little Rock in Monday’s early game.
“We don’t have a whole lot of time to put things in against them, but the whole idea for us is to try to win the game, but also (bring) the effort and intensity that we need,” Davis said. “And if we can bring that, whether we win or lose we’ll know we’re going in the right direction.”