Men's Basketball Preview: Western Michigan at Kent State

By Allen Moff | Staff Writer Published:

Records: Western Michigan (9-7, 2-2 MAC), Kent State (11-6, 2-2 MAC).

When/Where: Tonight, 7 p.m./M.A.C. Center.

Radio: WHLO 640 AM.

Head Coaches: Steve Hawkins, Western Michigan (190-152, 11th season); Rob Senderoff, Kent State (53-32, 3rd season).

2012-13 Records: Western Michigan 22-13, 10-6 MAC; Kent State 21-14, 9-7 MAC.

Series: Kent State leads 59-54, but the Broncos snapped a seven-game losing streak to KSU with an 82-76 victory last year in Kalamazoo.

Scouting Western Michigan

The Broncos opened the MAC season with a stunning 87-76 home win over Toledo, but have dropped their past two league contests -- 56-37 at Eastern Michigan, and 69-64 to Bowling Green at home. ... Western Michigan features 6-foot-4 senior guard David Brown, who leads the MAC in scoring at 18.9 points per game. Brown, the MAC's Sixth Man of the Year last season, has overcome injuries throughout his career to become an elite player in the league. He's a gunner and a slasher, sinking 35 3-pointers and a MAC-high 96 free throws. KSU will unleash defensive stopper Derek Jackson on Brown -- keep an eye on this matchup at all times. ... The Broncos are also led by 6-11, 250-pound senior center Shayne Whittington, a Second Team all-conference performer last year who is averaging 14.1 points and 8.9 rebounds (3rd in MAC) this season; and 6-6 sophomore forward Connar Tava, who averages 12.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting 60.6 percent from the floor -- tops in the MAC.

Flash Facts

Kent State snapped a rare three-game home losing streak with an 86-74 victory over Ball State on Jan. 11. The Flashes are 200-39 at the M.A.C. Center over the past 15 years, but "just" 20-9 over the last two seasons. KSU will play three of its next four games at home. ... Junior point guard Kris Brewer leads Kent State in scoring at 12.6 points per game, which ranks just 16th in the MAC. Still, the Flashes are third in the league in scoring at 73.4 points per game thanks to depth, as 10 different players average 3.5 points per game or more. Meanwhile, WMU has only seven players averaging over 10 minutes in MAC play.

Senderoff on Western Michigan

"They have a phenomenal scoring guard in David Brown, they have a great interior player in Shayne Whittington, they have probably the most improved player in the league in Connar Tava, so we're gonna have to do a good job on those three guys. And we have to do a great job creating turnovers. When they don't turn it over, they've been incredibly tough to beat. When they have turned it over, teams have been able to get out in transition and score easy baskets against them. That's probably the most important thing for us defensively, making sure that we have enough ball pressure to create turnovers, and try to do a good job on those three guys."

Countdown to Akron: 9 days.

-- Allen Moff

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