The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 7:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Beeghly Center (6,300) -- Youngstown, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: CMU 5-6, YSU 9-4. Away Record: CMU 1-9, YSU 6-6. Neutral Record: CMU 3-1, YSU 0-2. Conference Record: CMU 2-10, YSU 7-7. Series Record: Central Michigan leads, 4-1.
GAME NOTES: The Youngstown State Penguins will entertain the Central Michigan Chippewas at the Beeghly Center in their final home game of the season as part of the BracketBusters event.
This will be the sixth meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. CMU holds a 4-1 all-time series edge, but YSU picked up its first decision in the rivalry in the most recent meeting on Nov. 8, 2006 with a 74-50 victory. The four previous encounters took place between 1985-1989.
Keno Davis' first season at the helm of the Chippewas' program began with promise, but it began to go south in late January when it suffered a 74-61 setback to Northern Illinois. The loss to the Huskies began an eight-game slide that was extended last Saturday when CMU was defeated, 73-64, at home by Toledo. The Chippewas have been unable to pick up too many wins this season despite the solid play of Kyle Randall. The UNC Greensboro transfer averaged just 5.7 ppg as a Spartan in 2011-12 before transferring to the Mid-American Conference to net 17.8 ppg. Unfortunately the 5-foot-10 guard has not had much help as Blake Hibbitts is a distant second in the scoring column with 8.5 ppg.
Randall pumped in 21 points versus Toledo last Saturday to lead the losing effort as CMU shot just 33.3 percent from the floor. The Chippewas did manage to convert 20-of-25 at the free-throw line. Blake Hibbitts had 11 points and seven rebounds, while Chris Fowler scored 12 and added four assists, but the Rockets pulled away by connecting on 45.5 percent of their field-goal tries. CMU is a middle of the road team offensively in its conference with an average of 66.3 ppg, but it has the worst scoring defense in the 12-team league with an allowed average of 71.6 ppg.
Jerry Slocum's Penguins were unimpressive in their last appearance, falling to Green Bay, 71-54, at home to tie their season-low single-game scoring output. The setback put YSU at a 15-12 overall record that includes its 7-7 Horizon League mark. It has two tough road games at Valparaiso and Wright State left after the BracketBusters. Kendrick Perry is having an all-conference caliber season with averages of 16.9 points, 4.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game. Damian Eargle is chiming in with 11.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest while Blake Allen (11.1) and Kamren Belin (10.3) both make significant contributions to YSU's 71.4 points per game average.
The Penguins will be without Perry on Saturday as he is sidelined with a knee injury and Eargle is questionable with a broken nose. The possible absence of its top two scorers will hurt YSU, which shot just 33.3 percent from the field and went 5-of-25 from beyond the arc in its loss to Green Bay. The Phoenix managed to hit on 52.1 percent of their attempts from the field and hold a 34-21 edge in the rebounding battle against the shorthanded Penguins in the contest.
CMU has a golden opportunity as it faces a weakened YSU squad. The Penguins will without a doubt not be as tough without Perry. If the rest of the Chippewas can provide enough help in the scoring column for Randall, they will be able to extend their all-time series lead versus the Penguins with ease.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Central Michigan 70, Youngstown State 62
02/23 10:37:00 ET