Senior guard Mario Collins had a career-high eight assists in last Saturday's victory over Niagara.
Feb. 22, 2005
Akron (16-7, 9-5 MAC)
vs. Miami (Ohio) (17-6, 11-3 MAC)
Wednesday, February 23
7 p.m. EST
Rhodes Arena (5,500)
Television: Time Warner Cable of Northeast Ohio. Cable position 23 in Summit, Stark, Portage, Trumbull and Mahoning counties. Mike Waddell (play-by-play) and Jeff Phelps (color).
Satellite Coordinates: None
Radio: FOX Sports/WTOU (1350 AM) in Akron, WERE (1300 AM) in Cleveland and on the internet at GoZips.com. Steve French (play-by-play) and Joe Dunn (color) (6:30 p.m. EST airtime).
Akron Coach Keith Dambrot (Akron `82):
Is in his first season with the Zips, owning a 16-7 mark. He is 124-77 (.617) is his seventh season as a collegiate head coach. He was head coach for two season each at Tiffin (1985-86), Ashland (1990-91) and Central Michigan (1992-93), and was the top assistant at Akron for the three seasons prior to his current post. He is 0-5 all-time versus Miami.
Miami Coach Charlie Coles (Miami `65):
Is in his ninth season at the helm for the RedHawks, owning a 155-110 (.585) mark. He is 247-194 (.560) in his 15th season as a collegiate head coach. Coles is 12-7 all-time versus Akron.
Wednesday serves as the 31st meeting between the two schools on the hardwood. Miami leads the all-time series 19-11 following a 74-63 RedHawks victory earlier this season in Oxford, Ohio (Jan. 30). UA won the last meeting at Rhodes Arena 48-44 (Feb. 11, 2004), but MU has won six of the last seven overall meetings and owns a 6-5 advantage in games played in Akron. Miami's last win at Rhodes Arena was a 55-53 decision on Feb. 20, 2003.
Zips Begin Stretch Run Of Season Vs. Miami (Ohio)...
The University of Akron men's basketball team (16-7, 9-5) plays host to Miami (Ohio) (17-6, 11-3) Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST at Rhodes Arena. The Zips sit in second place in the Mid-American Conference East Division, just two games behind the RedHawks.
Akron, winners of three-straight and nine of its last 11 games, comes off a 74-68 victory over Niagara last Saturday in Akron.
Miami looks to extend a two-game win streak of its own, following a 65-58 victory over Wichita State last Saturday in Oxford, Ohio.
The game will be televised locally on Time Warner Cable.
Streaks, Storylines, Sidebars...
Akron enters the final two weeks of the regular season (four games remaining) in second place in the MAC East Division and in third place overall in the league standings. Bowling Green and UA have identical 9-5 records, but the Falcons sit atop the West Division putting them ahead of the Zips in the overall race. The top team in each division and the next best team overall (currently UA) receive a bye in the first round of the league tournament.
Akron has shot 50 percent or better from the floor in three-straight and five of its last eight games. The Zips went 50 percent (29 of 58) from the field last Saturday versus Niagara.
Akron has also registered 40 percent or better from behind the arc in three-straight and seven of its last eight contests. The Zips nailed 54.2 percent (13 of 24) from long range last Saturday versus Niagara.
One of the MAC's highest scoring teams, Akron leads the league in scoring margin (+7.9), while its 73.7 points-per-game is listed third and 46.1 (600 of 1,301) field-goal percentage third. The Zips 8.0 3-pointers made-per- game leads the conference.
UA's defense also ranks near the top of the league. Its 41.1 (523 of 1,271) field-goal percentage defense ranks first, while its scoring defense (65.7 ppg) is listed second behind Miami - Wednesday's opponent. The Zips closed the 2003-04 season ninth and tenth, respectively, in the MAC in those statistical categories.
Akron has been involved in some close games of late. Three of the Zips' last four wins have been by a combined 10 points (71-69 at BGSU, Feb. 3/81-79 ot vs. Toledo, Feb. 14/74-68 vs. Niagara/Feb. 19). UA notched a 20-point victory over Ohio (69-49) on Feb. 16.
UA's 16-7 record is its best since the 1999-2000 squad opened that season with an identical mark. With four regular-season and at least one league tournament game remaining the Zips are assured of their first winning season since that 1999-2000 team finished 17-11. It will be just the 10th winning season since the school joined the Division I ranks in 1980-81.
News, Notes, Trends...
Akron is ranked 25th in this week's CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25, after receiving votes in the poll for the previous 10 weeks. UA is one of seven MAC schools recognized in the rankings, with Miami (10th), Bowling Green (16th), Buffalo (19th), Western Michigan (22nd), Kent State (rv) and Ohio (rv) also getting mention. The next poll is due out on Feb. 28. Voting is conducted by Division I head coaches, with the MAC's representatives being Ball State's Tim Buckley and Western Michigan's Steve Hawkins.
The Zips are first in the MAC in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.24), second in assists (16.78 apg), third in blocked shots (3.78 bpg) and tied for third in turnover margin (+2.13).
Akron's sum is greater than its parts. Six different players have led the squad in scoring, six in rebounding and five in assists in a game. Just three athletes are averaging double-figure points (Peterson-14.4/Travis-10.9/Wood-10.7). Wood has been out since tearing his right ACL versus Ohio (Jan. 2) (13 games). Just three players are averaging 4.4 rebounds-per-game or higher, with one of those being Wood (team-best 8.1 rpg). Eight of UA's 13 active players (excluding Wood) have notched double-digit assists on the year, while six have done so in the steals category.
UA fields an 11-man rotation nearly every night. Nine of those players are averaging 12 or more minutes a game, with Dru Joyce (31.8), Romeo Travis (27.0) and Darryl Peterson (24.2) leading the way.
Five of the Zips' top-seven scorers are underclassmen and two of those seven are rookies - Bubba Walther (9.2 ppg) and Cedrick Middleton (4.7 ppg).
Akron has used 13 different starting lineups this season, but has gone with the same starting unit in the last three games.
Akron has recorded more assists than turnovers in four of its last five games. The Zips had 24 dishes compared to 15 losses last Saturday against Niagara.
Zips Player Notables...
Junior forward Darryl Peterson leads the team in scoring (14.4 ppg) (12th in MAC). He ranks third in the MAC in free-throw shooting (83.7 percent) and fifth in field-goal percentage (46.6 percent). His 1,112 career points rank him 26th all-time on UA's career-scoring chart. He ranks eighth in points and 13th in rebounds (377) among active MAC players. He broke his nose and suffered a concussion in practice on Feb. 12 and sat out the Toledo game (Feb. 14) due to precautionary reasons. He has come off the bench in the last three games, averaging 11.7 points and 4.0 assists in that stretch.
Sophomore forward Romeo Travis is second on the squad in scoring (10.9 ppg) (25th in MAC) and third in rebounding (7.7 rpg) (fourth in MAC). He leads the team in blocks and steals, with 35 and 27, respectively. His 1.5 bpg ranks second among his league peers. He has four double-doubles on the season.
Senior forward Rick McFadden has averaged 16.0 points as a starter in the last three games. He hit a season high 18 points twice in UA's three games last week (vs. Toledo/Feb. 14 and vs. Niagara/Feb. 19) and went 18 of 28 from the field (8 of 14 from 3-point range) in those contests.
Sophomore point guard Dru Joyce has started in all 23 games this season. He accounts for nearly one third of the squad's assists (110/4.8 apg), and maintains a 2.2 A-TO ratio. His apg is fifth in the MAC, while his A-TO ratio ranks fourth. He has two career-high 10 assists games this season and notched five dishes and 11 points versus Niagara.
Freshman guard Bubba Walther, who is first on the team with 45 made 3-pointers (team-high 116 attempts), has started in 10-straight games. His 1.9 treys made-per-game ranks tied for 10th in the MAC. He had a streak of 16-straight free-throws made snapped versus Toledo (Feb. 14).
On The Line Vs. Miami...
An Akron victory would be its fourth straight and tenth in 12 tries. It would also be its third straight at home.
An Akron victory would make it 12-1 at home this season, with the 12 victories being the most at Rhodes Arena since the 1989-90 squad won 13 contests on its home court.
An Akron victory would make it 17-7 overall and would match its best start since the 1999-2000 team tallied an identical record through 24 games. That team finished the year 17-11.
An Akron victory would be its second straight over Miami at Rhodes Arena.
Tale Of The Tape...
Category UA (16-7, 9-5) MU (17-6, 11-3) Scoring 1,694 1,549 PPG 73.7 67.3 Scoring Margin +7.9 +4.8 Field Goals-Attempts 600-1,301 548-1,181 Field Goal Pct. .461 .464 3PT FG-Attempts 183-484 164-406 3PT FG Pct. .378 .404 3PT FG MPG 8.0 7.1 FT-Attempts 311-467 289-427 Free Throw Pct. .666 .677 Rebounds/RPG 794/34.5 818/35.6 Rebound Margin +0.4 +6.3 Assists/APG 386/16.8 299/13.0 Turnovers/TPG 312/13.6 323/14.0 TO Margin +2.1 -2.2 Assist/TO ratio 1.2 0.9 Steals/SPG 152/6.6 126/5.5 Blocks/BPG 87/3.8 46/2.0
Niagara Postgame Notes...
Akron defeated Niagara 74-68 last Saturday at Rhodes Arena in a matchup as part ESPN Bracket Buster Saturday.
The Purple Eagles missed their first six shots of the second half, and made just 10 field goals in the stanza as Akron held one of the nation's highest-scoring teams to almost 20 points below its scoring average for the season.
Akron's bench outscored Niagara's, 33-5.
Akron tallied 24 assists on 29 made field goals. Thirteen of UA's 24 assists came from Mario Collins (career-high eight) and Dru Joyce (five).
Rick McFadden tallied a team-high 18 points and scored eight of UA's final 12 buckets.
Rob Preston and Darryl Peterson each tallied 12 points for Akron while Joyce finished with 11. Preston's point total was a season-high.
Niagara's David Brooks had a game-high 27 points.