OVERVIEW: The Chippewas of new coach Keno Davis enter this contest with a 7-6 overall record. Among the non-conference highlights for CMU was a 2-1 record at the Utah Thanksgiving Tournament in late November and a nice road win at Pepperdine on Dec. 16. … Central Michigan lost its last game, which came at No. 2 Michigan, but won three of the four games before that contest. … CMU ranks fifth in the MAC in scoring at 67.7 points per game but is 11th out of 12 league teams in scoring defense at 70.2 points allowed per contest. The Chips shoot free throws well (72.2 percent) and are third in 3-pointers per game (8.1). … Central Michigan is last in the MAC in field-goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to make 46.9 percent of their shots. … For a pressing team, it’s surprising to note that CMU has just 6.9 steals per game (eighth in the MAC). The Chippewas also generate just 13.0 turnovers per game, and only three teams generate fewer.
ALL-TIME SERIES: This is the 70th meeting in the series, and Bowling Green holds a 37-32 advantage. The Falcons won last year’s regular-season meeting by a 71-58 score at the Stroh Center, but CMU beat BG 54-53 at the Stroh Center in a MAC Tournament first-round contest. BG has lost three of the last four meetings of the two teams and five and of the last season. Bowling Green’s most-recent road win over the Chippewas came in a 67-61 victory on Feb. 7, 2009.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Offensively the Chippewas are led by senior guard Kyle Randall, who ranks sixth in the MAC in scoring at 15.5 points per game but is CMU’s only double-digit scorer. Randall also ranks 12th in assists with 2.9 apg and leads the league in free throw shooting at 90.1 percent. He stands 11th in 3-point shooting, making 39.7 percent of his attempts, and is 13th with 1.8 3’s per game. ... Freshman forward John Simons is second on the team in scoring at 9.2 ppg and is the team’s top rebounder with 5.2 rpg, good for 18th-best in the MAC. Simons also is shooting 39.5 percent on 3-pointers to rank 12t in the league in that category. ... Freshman forward Blake Hibbitts has come off the bench for all 13 of CMU’s games and is third in scoring at 8.0 ppg. Hibbitts stands fourth in the MAC in 3-pointers made per game at 2.1 per contest. ... Freshman guard Chris Fowler ranks third in the MAC in assists with 5.0 apg. He also produces 6.5 points per game and ranks 11th in the league with 1.4 steals per contest. Fowler also is sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.0.
BG KEYS TO VICTORY: 1. Handle the pressure. Based on the low number of turnovers CMU produces, my guess is that the Chippewas press more to set tempo than to create offense and/or establish defense. Still, the Falcons need to handle that pressure -- and convert scoring opportunities with they break the press to make things easier on the offense. 2. Shoot for two -- or three. A team that has struggled to make shots this season faces a team that allows its opponents to shoot very well. If the Falcons shoot well, they probably win; if they don't, they probably lose. 3. Contain Randall. The Chippewas' leading scorer, a transfer from North Carolina-Greensboro, has taken more than one-fifth (149 of 700) of CMU's shots this season. He also has created a number of free-throw opportunities, and made most of them. Making him take a bunch of shots to get his points, and limiting his free-throw attempts, should hamstring the Chips' offense.
GAME NOTES: Tipoff from McGuirk Arena is at 7 p.m. … The contest will be broadcast on the Falcons’ radio network, including 99.1 FM, 1470 AM and 1280 AM. … The next game for the Falcons is the home contest against Eastern Michigan on Saturday, Jan. 12 at the Stroh Center starting at 6 p.m.
FOR MORE INFO: Click here to read an interesting story on CMU's new coach from the Detroit Free Press.