RedHawks Battle Bulls in MAC Tournament First Round Thursday

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March 9, 2010

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REDHAWKS HEAD TO CLEVELAND FOR MAC TOURNAMENT: Miami heads to Cleveland for the 2010 MAC Men's Basketball Tournament March 11-13. The RedHawks are the No. 4 seed for the second consecutive year and face the No. 5 seed Buffalo Bulls at 9 p.m. on Thursday, March 11. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net Ohio. Check local listings for availability in your area. This is the second straight meeting with Buffalo for Miami, who faced the Bulls in the regular-season finale on March 4. The two teams finished with a 9-7 MAC record but Miami earned the first-round bye with the tiebreaker coming down to the teams' records versus No. 2 seed Central Michigan. Buffalo is coming off a dominant 72-54 win against Toledo on Sunday.

MIAMI MAKES 29th MAC TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE: Miami University men's basketball team makes its 29th Mid-American Conference Tournament appearance in the 31-year history of the tournament. The RedHawks are the No. 4 seed for just the fourth time in those 29 appearances with all appearances as the No. 4 seed coming within the last five years. The RedHawks will take on No. 5 seed Buffalo in the quarterfinals at 9 p.m. on Thursday, March 11. Miami is making its 22nd consecutive quarterfinal appearance.

REDHAWKS EARN SEVENTH BYE IN LAST EIGHT YEARS: Miami earned a first-round bye for the MAC Tournament for the seventh time in the last eight years. In 2008, Miami played a first-round game as the No. 5 seed. The RedHawks had earned five-straight first-round byes from 2003 to 2007 and earned a first-round bye as the No. 4 seed in 2009.

ABOUT THE BULLS: Buffalo enters Thursday's game with an 18-11 overall mark. The Bulls are coming off a 72-54 win against Toledo in the first round of the MAC Tournament on Sunday. Rodney Pierce leads the team, averaging 18.7 ppg on the season. The Bulls have three others averaging 8.0 ppg or more: Calvin Betts (10.9), Sean Miley (8.4) and Max Boudreau (8.3). Betts is the team's leading rebounder, averaging 7.6 rpg. The Bulls have used a very consistent lineup with four players--Pierce, Betts, Mitchell Watt and Titus Robinson--starting in all 16 MAC games and John Boyer starting 15 league games, however, Jawaan Alston got the start over Robinson on Sunday against the Rockets. Boyer leads the MAC in assist/turnover ratio in both overall and MAC games and averages an impressive 3.71 assist/turnover ratio on the season.

THE SERIES WITH BUFFALO: Thursday marks the 26th meeting between Miami and Buffalo, and the second in a week, with the RedHawks holding an 18-7 lead in the all-time series. The Bulls had won the last three meetings between the teams, including a 73-55 win in Buffalo earlier this season to begin Mid-American Conference play, but Miami captured the last meeting between the teams in Oxford last Thursday, 73-62. The teams have met twice in MAC Tournament action with both previous meetings coming in the first round. Miami topped Buffalo 71-60 in Oxford in the first round of the 2002 MAC Tournament and edged the Bulls 69-68 in Cleveland in the first round of the 2008 MAC Tournament.

Tournament Tidbits:
Miami is the No. 4 seed for just the fourth time in its 29 MAC Tournament appearances. Miami has been the No. 4 seed the last two years and in four of the last five tournaments. Last season, Miami suffered a 73-63 loss to No. 5 seed Akron in the quarterfinals. Prior to that, the RedHawks were the No. 4 seed in 2007 when they won the MAC Tournament during a thrilling run. Tim Pollitz was named the MAC Tournament MVP, while Michael Bramos was named to the all-tournament team. Senior center Adam Fletcher was a redshirt freshman on that team, while junior guard/forward Antonio Ballard was a freshman. Junior forward Sean Mock was redshirted that season.

Four times the No. 4 seed has won the MAC Tournament, including two of the last four tournaments. Ball State was the first No. 4 seed to win the title in 1995. Eastern Michigan won it three years later in 1998 as the No. 4 seed. Ohio was the No. 4 seed when the Bobcats' won the MAC tournament in 2005, while Miami was the last No. 4 seed to win the tournament in 2007.

No matter what the seed, Miami has traditionally managed to make noise in the MAC Tournament. The RedHawks are the lowest seed to advance to the championship game, doing so as the No. 9 seed in 2000 and the No. 8 seed in 2001. Miami assistant coach Jason Grunkemeyer was a key member of both of those squads that made a MAC-record five straight title game appearances.

MIAMI ISP SPORTS NETWORK: In its third year of its partnership with ISP, the Miami ISP Sports Network continues its coverage of Miami men's basketball with a group of affiliates blanketing most of Southwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana. "The Voice of the RedHawks" Steve Baker delivers the play-by-play, while Joe Barry provides color commentary. Tune in to one of Miami's game-day affiliates: WMOH-AM 1450 (Hamilton, OH), WPFB-FM 105.9 (Middletown, OH), WFMG-FM 101.3 (Richmond, IN), WONE-AM 980 (Dayton, OH) or follow along on via Miami All Access.

DOUBLING UP: Four Miami players have combined to produce 17 double-figure rebounding efforts this season: Sophomore forward/center Julian Mavunga (8), junior guard/forward Antonio Ballard (4), junior forward Nick Winbush (3) and senior center Adam Fletcher (2). Mavunga tallied 11 rebounds against Akron on Feb. 17 to lead all players, hauling in eight in the opening half. Winbush tallied 10 rebounds at Bowling Green (Feb. 14) and amassed a career-high 13 against Southeast Missouri State (Feb. 20).

DIGGING IN ON DEFENSE: Miami led the MAC in league games in scoring defense, allowing just 61.3 ppg. The RedHawks held six MAC opponents under 55 points and restricted Toledo to a mere 47 points on Feb. 10, a season-best sum for the Miami defense.

BLOCKBUSTERS: Miami amassed nine blocked shots against Buffalo on March 4, all coming in the second half, which ranks on the RedHawks' single-game top-10 chart. Junior forward Nick Winbush swatted a career-high five blocked shots, which also ranks on Miami's single-game top-10 chart, while sophomore forward/center Julian Mavunga rejected three shots and senior guard Kenny Hayes chipped in one. Winbush has 14 of Miami's 25 blocked shots in the RedHawks' last five games and is six blocked shots from cracking Miami's single-season top-10 chart.

BLOCK PARTY: The RedHawks have recorded 79 blocked shots in their last 16 games. They recorded nine against Buffalo (March 4), which ties for fifth on Miami's single-game charts and eight against Kent State on Jan. 12 and again at Western Michigan on Feb. 2, which tie for ninth. Over the last 16 games, nine RedHawks have recorded blocked shots with junior forward Nick Winbush posting 22, sophomore forward/center Julian Mavunga tallying 17, junior guard/forward Antonio Ballard amassing 15 and senior center Adam Fletcher recording 11. Winbush tallied a career-high five against Buffalo on March 4, which ties for fifth on Miami's single-game charts. Junior guard Rodney Haddix II has four, while freshman guard Orlando Williams and sophomore guard Kramer Soderberg and senior guard Kenny Hayes have three apiece, while freshman guard Allen Roberts has one. With 117 blocked shots this season as a team, Miami ranks third all-time. The record for blocked shots in a season was in 2007 with 135.

ALL REDHAWKS GETTING IN ON THE BLOCK PARTY: Miami leads the MAC in blocked shots this season, averaging 3.90 per game. In league-only games Miami also led the MAC, averaging 4.63 per game as a team. Sitting atop the conference statistical standings in blocked shots is not confined solely to the men's basketball team, however. Miami's women's basketball team also leads the MAC in blocked shots in all games (4.63) and tied for first in MAC games (4.81). Both teams also have taken advantage of charity in league action as each ranks first in the MAC in free-throw percentage. The RedHawk men hit 73.8 percent of their free throws in MAC action to rank first, while the Miami women knocked down a league-leading 78.5 percent of their free throws in MAC play.

DOUBLE-TIME: Twelve times this season Miami players have recorded double-doubles with sophomore forward/center Julian Mavunga recording six, which ties for second in the MAC. Junior forward Nick Winbush recorded his second career double-double on Feb. 14 with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Julian Mavunga	Northern Illinois (Feb. 6): 13 pts; 11 rebs
			Bowling Green (Jan. 23): 11 pts; 11 rebs
			at Xavier (Dec. 23): 18 pts; 12 rebs
			Evansville (Nov. 28): 18 pts; 10 rebs
			vs. Nicholls State (11/21): 12 pts; 10 rebs
			vs. Louisiana Tech (11/20): 16 pts; 12 rebs

Adam Fletcher at Akron (Jan. 20): 11 pts; 10 rebs Wright State (Dec. 13): 10 pts; 10 rebs

Antonio Ballard at Western Michigan (Feb. 4): 10 pts; 10 rebs Ohio (Jan. 16): 11 pts; 13 rebs

Nick Winbush at Bowling Green (Feb. 14): 14 pts; 10 rebs Temple (Dec. 8): 10 pts; 10 rebs

ROARING 20s: Ten times this season Miami players have amassed 20 or more points in a game. Senior guard Kenny Hayes is the most recent to reach the 20-point plateau, tallying 20 at Ohio (Feb. 24) for his sixth 20-or-more point game this season. Hayes also had 22 at Northern Illinois (Feb. 6), 20 vs. Central Michigan (Jan. 28), 24 points at Xavier (Dec. 23), 21 points at Colorado (Jan. 5) and 23 points against Nicholls State (Nov. 21). Junior guard Rodney Haddix II also had a career-high 21 points against Nicholls State. Senior center Adam Fletcher tallied a career-high 21 points at Buffalo (Jan. 9). Additionally, junior forward Nick Winbush twice scored 20-or-more points. Winbush recorded a career-high 26 points at Kentucky (Nov. 16) and 25 points at New Mexico (Nov. 22).

FOR STARTERS: Freshman guard Allen Roberts got his first career start at Buffalo on Jan. 9 and has started each of the last 13 games. He became the fifth RedHawk this season to earn his first career start, joining freshman guard Orlando Williams, sophomore guard Kramer Soderberg, junior guard Rodney Haddix II and sophomore forward/center Julian Mavunga.

MINUTE MAN: Senior guard Kenny Hayes is averaging 35.60 minutes per game and leads the Mid-American Conference in minutes played. Ohio's D.J. Cooper ranks second at 35.41 minutes per game. Junior guard/forward Antonio Ballard and junior forward/center Julian Mavunga tie for 21st, averaging 29.60 minutes per game. Hayes ranked second in the MAC in minutes played in MAC-only games, averaging 36.25 minutes per game, while Ballard was eighth (34.25) and Mavunga was 15th (32.50).

SETTING THE "TONE": Junior guard/forward Antonio Ballard has been stepping up his production. The 6-foot-4 Ballard ranked 10th in MAC-only games in rebounding (6.9 rpg), 14th in blocked shots (0.94 bpg) and 13th in field-goal percentage (.490). He has had four double-figure rebounding efforts in the last 16 games with a career-high 13 boards on Jan. 16 against Ohio and 11 rebounds against Kent State (Jan. 12) and at Ball State (Jan. 26) and 10 at Western Michigan (Feb. 2). Eight of his 11 rebounds against the Golden Flashes came over the final 25 minutes of play. He has recorded nine or more points in 14 of Miami's last 21 games, including all 11 of his double-figure scoring efforts this season. Ballard has scored in double figures in eight of Miami's last 10 games.

THEY COME IN TWO'S, THREE'S AND FOUR'S: Fifteen times this season, junior forward Nick Winbush has scored in double figures, with the first six and the last two paired in back-to-back games. By scoring 13 points against Central Michigan (Jan. 28) and 11 points against Eastern Michigan (Jan. 30), Winbush reached double-figures in scoring in four-straight contests. He also scored in double figures in three-straight games from Feb. 6-14, notching 17 points at Northern Illinois (Feb. 6), 10 points against Toledo (Feb. 10) and 14 points at Bowling Green (Feb. 14). Winbush scored in double figures in Miami's first two games (11 at Towson; 26 at Kentucky), then Nov. 22 at New Mexico (25) and Nov. 28 vs. Evansville (11) and again on Dec. 8 vs. Temple (10) and Dec. 10 at Cincinnati (13). He recorded 13 points against Bowling Green (Jan. 23) and tallied 10 points at Ball State (Jan. 26) leading into the Central Michigan game. Two weeks ago, Winbush tallied 15 points at Ohio (Feb. 24) and 13 at Kent State (Feb. 27).

WINBUSH FOR THREE: Junior forward Nick Winbush drilled eight 3-pointers at Kentucky, which ties for third on Miami's single-game charts and set a then-Rupp Arena record for 3-pointers by an opponent. Winbush was an impressive 6-for-6 from beyond the arc in the first half and was 8-for-10 from 3-point range for the game. His eight treys tie for the 13th most nationally made by a player in a game this season. He led all scorers with a career-high 26 points. Through 30 games this season, Winbush is 54-of-136 from beyond the arc, nailing 39.7 percent of his 3-point attempts.

PICKING IT UP IN THE PAINT: Twenty of Miami's first 29 points against Akron on Feb. 17 came in the paint, and an additional seven points came off free throws where players were fouled trying to score in the paint. In its previous game at Bowling Green, Miami had 16 of its 64 points come in the paint. Miami finished with 36 points in the paint against the Zips. The following game on Feb. 20, Miami finished with 24 points in the paint against Southeast Missouri State. Miami had another strong effort in the paint at Ohio on Feb. 24, recording 34 points in the paint against the Bobcats, and had 34 points in the paint against Buffalo on March 4.

COLES BREAKS MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE WIN MARK: With a 79-67 win against Ohio on Saturday, Jan. 16, Miami University Head Coach Charlie Coles broke the Mid-American Conference record for career league wins, which was previously held by former Toledo Head Coach Bob Nichols. The triumph over the Bobcats was Coles' 195th career MAC win with 143 of those coming during his time patrolling the Miami sidelines. Over his 20 years as a coach in the MAC (14 at Miami; 6 at Central Michigan) Coles has amassed a 202-139 league record.

•	Make Miami 16-11 in MAC Tournament quarterfinal games.
•	Be Miami's second straight win, both coming against Buffalo.
•	Put Miami in the MAC tournament semifinals for the 18th time in program history.

A MIAMI LOSS WOULD ... • End Miami's MAC Tournament run in the quarterfinals for the second straight year. • Be the Bulls' first win against the RedHawks in three tournament meetings. • End Miami's season at 13-18.