NEXT UP: Bowling Green - 7 p.m. ET Millett Hall, Oxford, OH
Can RedHawks record first back-to-back MAC wins?
By MIKE SMITH
Tuesday's MU vs BGSU matchup comes one month to the day since Miami and Bowling Green last met. The Falcons won that contest 83-73, with Leon Ayers III exploding for 31 points. It was a season-high for the 6-5 guard, who is averaging a healthy 17.4 ppg., along with 4.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Suffice it to say, he is a . . .
. . . good shooter, averaging 48.6 percent from the floor on the season. Ayers connected on 10-of-12 (83.3%) in the win over Miami.
~~ Miami and Bowling Green first faced off over 78 years ago, dating back to 1944. Tuesday will mark the 150th meeting between both teams. The RedHawks hold a 51-18 home record, 33-40 away record and 5-2 neutral site record when facing the Falcons.
~~ Bowling Green led all the way in the Jan. 21 tilt, building a double-digit lead by the 13:07 mark and carrying a 46.36 advantage into intermission. The Falcons were up by 20, 64-44 with 12:16 remaining and finished with the 10-point edge.
-- As a team, the Falcons shot 56.3 percent against MU, which hit 49.2 percent from the floor. However, the RedHawks made just 3-of-17 (17/6%) from long distance, while BGSU went 7-of-16 (43.8%) on treys. Miami knocked down 10-of-16 free trows (62.5%), while the hosts thrived with a 22-of-24 mark at the stripe.
~~ Joining Ayers in double figures against MU were Kaden Metheny (15) and Samari Curtis (10 -- 8-of-8 at the line). Forward Rashaun Agee chipped in nine points.
~~ Morgan Safford paced Miami with 20 points, while Anderson Mirambeaux was just behind with 18 points despite playing just 22 minutes. Mekhi Lairy added 15 points, five rebounds and seven assists.
~~ The Falcons followed their win over MU with a victory at Central Michigan. Since that time, however, they have dropped seven straight. The latest was a home court lost to arch-rival Toledo Saturday at the Stroh Center.
~~ At 4-9 MAC (10-17 overall), BGSU is in ninth place, one game behind Central Michigan for the final MAC playoff spot.
~~ Miami's dramatic come-back win at Northern Illinois put the RedHawks in a three-way tie at the bottom of MAC standings. Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan are also 3-11 (MAC).
~~ The RedHawks have won two of their last four -- both victories coming at home and both with Anderson Mirambeaux as leading scorer. He had 18 points and nine rebounds against NIU. In addition to a game-tying three to force overtime, he contributed six of Miami's eight points in the extra period. A key to his efforts was recording just two fouls, which helped him play 34 minutes.
~~ After missing the Toledo game, Safford returned against NIU, recording a double-double of 16 points and 10 caroms. He also had five assists.
~~ When Ryan Mabry can hit a few threes, the RedHawks win potential increases. He went four-of-five from behond the arc against NIU, finishing with 12 points.
Limiting Ayers is certainly part of Miami's challenge. That includes keeping him -- and other Falcons -- from driving into the lane for either layups or free throw opportunites. The latter would be a double whammy if it led to less time on the court for Mirambeaux, Safford or Lairy.
The RedHawks will also need to work the boards. They were outrebounded 33-25 in the last meeting. Rebounding won't be easy for this MU team, but its necessary work Head Coach Travis Steele values.
Speaking of values, Steele repeatedly speaks of valuing the basketball. Miami and NIU combined for 35 turnovers (17 by MU) Saturday. He'll be hoping for an improvement against Bowling Green.
Editor-Publisher Mike Smith
Mike grew up in Mid-American Conference football and basketball territory and returned there after military service. He has been covering MAC football and men's basketball for much of the last several decades.