OXFORD, Ohio -- There was, perhaps, no shortage of irony in Miami’s 81-76 win over Central Michigan Saturday in Millett Hall.
It was, after all, Central Michigan that pinned a 101-92 loss on Miami back on Jan. 21 in Mt. Pleasant. Aside from the overall outcome, however, the big news out of that one was 50 points from CMU guard Marcus Keene.
The junior transfer had continued to scorch the nets since then and he remained the nation’s leading scorer entering Saturday’s game against Miami, If anything, it looked like an opportunity to pad his stats.
It didn’t work out that way, however, as . . .
"You try to make him play in traffic," Miami head coach John Cooper said. "I thought we did a good job of that in the first game (against them), and Keene just got in an unbelievable zone and just went off. We keep him from doing that this game, thank goodness, and consequently we come out with the win."
"You've got to know going in they've got guys that can shoot the ball," Cooper said. "With Keene and Rayson's ability off the bounce, they are able to find those guys; and they space you and they stretch you with the way they play their offense."
Luke Meyer led CMU with 10 caroms as the Chippewas out-rebounded Miami 46-35. The RedHawks, however, applied defensive pressure that not only stifled Keene, but also resulted in a 22-11 MU advantage in turnovers. Miami cashed in for 22 points, compared to only seven CMU points off 11 Miami miscues.
"The main difference in this game (from the first meeting) was we took better care of the ball and Keene doesn't go off in the second half," Cooper said.
As would be expected, the Chippewas offense included a strong 3-point focus again Saturday. CMU launched 40 treys, sinking 14 (35.0%). Miami, meanwhile, struggled mightily from distance for most of the afternoon. The RedHawks were 2 of 12 from distance before intermission and 3 for 11 after the break. That led to a 5 of 23 total (21.7%) mark.
"Logan was just terrific," Cooper said.
The charity stripe proved to be one one Miam’s keys as the hosts hit 16 of 22 opportunities. Central Michigan made 8 of 9 free throws.
Joining McLane in double figures were Michael Weathers (18), and Jake Wright (10).
All of Wright’s points came in the second half as MU overcame a 28-35 halftime deficit.
The Chippewas, who led for nearly all of the first period, managed to hang onto relatively small leads until Wright finally connected on a trey at 13:55 of the final session. That put Miami in front 48-47 at 13:55.
Miami chipped away and grabbed a 69-67 edge at 3:53, Dileo naled a triple at the other end for Central Michigan’s last lead, 70.69. But Wright responded at the other end with a layup.
A Dileo triple with one minute remaining left the teams in a 76-all deadlock. However, CMU would not score again. Marcus Weathers muscled his way to an oldie 3-point play with 31 seconds left to put the home team up 79-76.
After a Chippewas miss, Michael Weathers hit one of two free throws. The second miss was grabbed by Marcus Weathers, who was immediately fouled. He then split a pair of free throws for the final 81-76 margin. "That was a big play," Cooper said.
Thanks to a 48-18 advantage in the paint, Miami managed to connect on 30 of 66 attempts from the field (45.5%). Central Michigan made 27 of 66 attempts (40.9%).
"This team has been through some things, and obviously our bench is shortened up even more now with Dion (Wade) out," Cooper said. "I'm happy for our kids, because I thought they played very unselfishly."
The RedHawks will attempt to pick up their first road win of the season Tuesday at Kent State. Central Michigan, which missed a chance to grab sole possession of first place in the MAC West, begins a three-game homestand Tuesday when it hosts the hot Buffalo Bulls. Both games start at 7 p.m. ET.