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December 2011

Wright State earns second overtime victory in 4 games, beats Illinois-Chicago 74-70

Final: WSU wins 74-70 in overtime. Johann Mpondo scored a career-high 16 points, and Julius Mays scored 21 to reach at least 20 points for the fifth time this season. WSU outscored UIC 16-12 in overtime.

UIC scored the first 2 points overtime before WSU went on a 7-0 run, finished by a three-point play from Mpondo. He followed that with two free throws with 59.8 seconds left to put WSU up 67-61. A Daniel Barnes 3-pointer for UIC with 15.8 seconds left cut the Wright State lead to 70-68, a Gary Talton layup with 7.5 seconds left cut the deficit to 71-70.

Then WSU rushed the ball up the floor, and John Balwigaire finished with a 3-point play with 4.5 seconds left to set the final margin.

Regulation: Tied 58-58. UIC started 16-of-16 from the free throw line before its first miss with 2:18 left, and WSU responded with a basket from Reggie Arceneaux to tie the game 54-54 with 1:57 left. Vance Hall gave WSU a brief lead with 1:19 left on a steal and layup, and Julius Mays followed a pair of Gary Talton free throws with two of his own with 43.8 seconds left to put WSU up 58-56. Talton hit two more free throws with 20.8 seconds left to tie the game 58-58, and WSU called time out with 16.6 seconds left. Mays missed a shot inside in traffic late in the game, and the buzzer sounded.

3:35 second: UIC leads 53-50. The Flames have scored on their last 4 possessions, including 7 points in that time from Gary Talton to reach 12 points. UIC has used the 8-0 run to take the lead when Talton hit a 3-pointer with 3:37 left to break a tie. UIC has made 15-15 free throws in the game, including 8-8 by Darrin Williams, who has 22 points. Julius Mays has 15 points for WSU.

7:45 second: WSU leads 45-43. Darrin Williams, the UIC 6-9 senior, has scored a career-high 22 points (previous best was 18) to go with 7 rebounds, including a three-point play on his own rebound and basket with 8:49 left to set the current margin. Both teams shooting barely better than 35 percent, and WSU has made 7-9 free throws, all this half.

11:58 second: Tied 36-36. Julius Mays stopped an 0-for-7 shooting stretch with a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 12:25 to tie the game. But Darrin Williams is still big for UIC with 17 points and 6 rebounds, while Mays got to 11 points with the 3. WSU is shooting 35.9 percent, and UIC is shooting 36.4 percent, so you wonder if one team is going to get hot down the stretch.

15:16 second: UIC leads 32-30. The lead has changed on the last four baskets, most recently Daniel Barnes’ 3-pointer from the left corner after an offensive rebound. Darrin Williams is up to 13 points and 6 boards for UIC, and Johann Mpondo has 8 points for Wright State to match Julius Mays.

Halftime: UIC leads 27-24. UIC’s Darrin Williams scored all 9 points in a 9-point Flames run that sparked them to the lead and an eventual 6-point advantage before John Balwigaire connected on a 3 late in the first half to set the halftime margin. WSU shot 37 percent in the first half, and UIC shot 37.5 percent. Williams has 11 points and 6 rebounds, and Julius Mays leads WSU with 8, although all of those came in the first 6:56 of the game.

3:39 first: WSU leads 19-18. Darrin Williams has scored 6 straight points for UIC to get to 8 in the game to go with 6 rebounds as the big body in the middle. WSU started the game shooting 6-11 but is 2-11 since and hasn’t scored since 8:50 remained in the half. Julius Mays has 8 points, but he has missed his last 4 shots.

5:43 first: WSU leads 19-14. This is a game of low fouls, long possessions and missed shots. WSU is shooting 42.1 percent, and UIC is making 27.8 percent. UIC went more than 4 minutes without a point but scored on a Darrin Williams put back to set the current margin. WSU has also made 3-7 from long range, led by 2 from Julius Mays, who leads all scorers with 8 points.

11:04 first: WSU leads 15-9. The Raiders started the game 6-11 to take an early lead with a quick 8 points from Julius Mays on 3-3 shooting, including 2-2 from long range. The Raiders’ biggest lead was 8 points at 15-7.

13:59 first: WSU leads 10-7. The Raiders hit their first two shots to go up 5-0 before UIC scored 7 straight. Julius Mays then came up with a left-handed shot in the lane and a pull-up 3-pointer from the left wing to set the current margin. Mays has 5 early points as both teams are shooting well early. No fouls have been called.

20:00 first: Wright State starters: Reggie Arceneaux, Julius Mays, Armond Battle, Cole Darling, Johann Mpondo.

PREGAME: Wright State carries a three-game winning streak into this afternoon game against the Flames, who earned their first Horizon League win on Thursday at home against Detroit. The Raiders are 2-1 in the league, which is tied for third in the early season. Something to watch: UIC is tied with Green Bay as the league’s top rebounding team, and WSU has constant foul trouble with its big men.

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Game 16 Preview: Wright State (7-8, 2-1) at Illinois-Chicago (5-8, 1-2)

Wright State will close out 2011 and its two-game Horizon League trip to Chicago with a road matchup against UIC this afternoon. The Raiders have won three straight, their best stretch of the season, and they hope to build on the recent success. Even more, they have easily handled the past two opponents with an 18-point win against Central Michigan and a 16-point win against Loyola (during which they led by as many as 27 points).

Like Loyola, UIC has good aggressive play despite its record and is coming off a home defeat of Detroit. The significance of that victory is tough to figure out, because Detroit was picked No. 2 in the HL preseason poll but fell to 0-3 in the league and 6-9 overall with the loss. The Flames got their first league win with the victory.

WRIGHT STATE (7-8, 2-1) at ILLINOIS-CHICAGO (5-8, 1-2)

When: 2 p.m.

Where: UIC Pavilion, Chicago

TV: None

Radio: WBZI-FM (100.3), Info 1660 AM, WBZI-AM (1500), WKFI-AM (1090), WEDI-AM (1130)

Online

Audio: myclassiccountry.com

Stream: Horizon League Network

The Good

For Wright State, all of a sudden the Raiders are dominators. As they improved their shooting, they have won the past two games by a combined 34 points while extended a three-game winning stretch. Junior guard Julius Mays has averaged 21 points per game in those three wins, and he scored 23 points against Loyola in a 64-48 win on Thursday. By making 3-of-5 3-pointers against Loyola, sophomore guard Vance Hall reached 43.8 percent from 3-point range this season. The Raiders are the league’s third-best from long range, at 33.2 percent, and they have five players shooting 35 percent or better from that range: Hall, Mays (40.4), A.J. Pacher (38.1), John Balwigaire (37.5) and Reggie Arceneaux (35.4). In the past six games, since going 2-of-19 from 3-point range against Air Force, WSU is making 36 percent. The Raiders haven’t gotten quite as much out of their inside game lately, and WSU coach Billy Donlon said after the win against Loyola that he would like WSU to throw the ball inside more. But, when things are falling from outside as they are, players like to keep shooting.

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UIC has tried to play tougher defense, evidenced by Will Simonton (left) and Hayden Humes (right) against Oregon State (Associated Press photo)

For UIC, the Flames have experienced the scoring emergence of guards Daniel Barnes (12.2 ppg this season) and Gary Talton (10.3) in recent games. In the past four games, Barnes, a 6-2 junior, has scored 20, 22, 17 and 14 points. Talton, a 6-1 junior, has scored 15, 11 and a career-high 21 points in the past three games. Talton’s scoring spurt helped the Flames earn their first league win on Thursday by beating Detroit 63-59. In the same game, Barnes had 14 points, five rebounds, two steals and an assist. In an unusual stat, Detroit outrebounded UIC 36-31, but the Flames remain tied with Green Bay for first in the league in rebounding, at 38 per game. They have played well at home, earning all five of their victories there with a 5-1 record (5-8 overall). Those home wins include victories against two winning teams, 6-5 Evansville and 6-5 Western Illinois.

The Bad

For Wright State, the Raiders were able to dominate Loyola on Thursday despite significant foul trouble, which has troubled them all season. Senior Johann Mpondo started on the inside but had four fouls in 16 minutes. Sophomore big man A.J. Pacher had four fouls in nine minutes. Cole Darling had three fouls in 14 minutes. Freshman point guard Reggie Arceneaux missed much of the first half after picking up two quick fouls, and he finished with eight points in 19 minutes. Playing a team with the rebounding prowess of UIC, WSU will hope to be aggressive on the boards without fouling. Speaking of rebounding, WSU is last in the league in that category, grabbing just 28.9 per game. Outside of Mays (12.1 ppg) and Arceneaux (8.9), the Raiders are still looking for a consistent third scorer, although Hall has done well in that role lately.

For UIC, the Flames have a loss against a Division II opponent on their resume, as they lost to Quincy 65-61 on Nov. 19. They made 11-of-16 free throws against Detroit, but they rank ninth in the league in free throw shooting for the season, at 62 percent. UIC has also faced trouble in stopping opposing offenses, allowing 44.4 percent shooting and 67.3 points per game. Senior center Darrin Williams averages 9.9 points and 6.6 rebounds while expected to be a key contributor, but he has been inconsistent, including six points and four rebounds against Detroit. Another senior returner, Paris Carter, averages 6.3 points and 5.4 rebounds but has totaled 14 points and 14 rebounds in the past five games.

Fast Facts

WSU is 5-3 in the past eight games, including wins against Youngstown State, Miami, Idaho, Central Michigan and Loyola.

UIC hasn’t won back-to-back Horizon League games since the 2008-09 season.

The Raiders are 9-1 in their past 10 games against UIC, stretching back to the 2006-07 season. The only loss in that stretch came 77-66 in overtime in February 2009.

While the Flames are eighth in the league in scoring defense, they are allowing just 58.7 points per game at the UIC Pavilion this season.

If taking away his eight total points in the first three games, Mays is averaging 14.7 points in the past 11.

And finally, here is UIC’s postgame media session after the win against Detroit on Thursday …

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Wright State student government hoping to spread “Raider Spark”

Looks like the Wright State student government is trying to bring some order to Raiders basketball games.

In a recent video posted to YouTube, led by WSU student government president Paul Reed, a group of students demonstrates the “Raider Spark,” which is what the group is asking WSU students to do during media timeouts at basketball games.

The video was uploaded on Dec. 22, the date of the Raiders’ last home game while the students were still on their long break between quarters. The next home game comes Friday, Jan. 6, against Butler.

So here’s a look at the “Raider Spark” …

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Wright State dominates Loyola to win third straight, 64-48

Final: WSU wins 64-48. The Raiders led by as many as 27 points and got 23 points (on 10-of-11 free throws) from Julius Mays. WSU shot 44.7 percent and made 10-of-25 3-pointers.

7:56 second: WSU leads 49-29. The Raiders have led by as many as 27 points and have been more loose with the ball since taking that big advantage. Julius Mays has 14 points for Wright State, and Vance Hall has added 9 points on three 3-pointers. Loyola is shooting 32 percent, including 28.6 percent in the second half.

11:09 second: WSU leads 49-22. The Raiders have opened up a decisive lead with much better shooting in the second half, with five 3-pointers so far this half. Loyola is shooting 30 percent in the game, and the Ramblers have 20 turnovers to 5 for WSU. Loyola leading scorer Ben Averkamp is scoreless with four fouls.

15:07 second: WSU leads 43-22. The Raiders have come out fast in the second half, using a technical foul called against Loyola coach Porter Moser and 3-pointers on three straight possessions to go up by a game-high 21 points. The Raiders are 4-of-5 this half, and Julius Mays has a game-high 14 points. Loyola has 18 turnovers and is shooting 33.3 percent.

Halftime: WSU leads 28-18. The Raiders led by as many as 12 points as Loyola gave up 15 turnovers in the half and scored as many points on free throws (9-of-10) as field goals (4-of-11). Wright State shot 37.9 percent, including 4-of-16 from 3-point range, and Julius Mays has a team-high 7 points.

3:45 first: WSU leads 23-15. The same themes apply. Wright State is not shooting terribly well, at 37.5 percent. But the Ramblers are throwing the ball all over the place, with 14 turnovers. Julius Mays has 7 points to lead the Raiders, while Walt Gibler has 6 points for Loyola. Loyola has made 4 field goals, while Wright State has 24 attempts to Loyola’s 9 attempts.

7:54 first: WSU leads 14-11. The Raiders are shooting poorly, 31.3 percent and 2-9 from 3-point range, but Loyola can’t hold on to the ball long enough to shoot, with 12 turnovers already. The Ramblers have made 4-7 shots, led by Christian Thomas and Walt Gibler with 4 points each, while A.J. Pacher has 4 points to lead WSU. WSU point guard Reggie Arceneaux has missed much of the half with two fouls.

11:32 first: WSU leads 12-7. A.J. Pacher has 4 early inside points, and Matt Vest, who has been frustrated by left ankle injuries, just hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to give the Raiders their biggest lead. Loyola has made 2-3 shots, but the Ramblers have turned the ball over 9 times already. WSU is shooting 5-11.

15:53 first: WSU leads 5-2: Loyola has turned the ball over on its previous five possessions, and Wright State has a Julius Mays jumper and Reggie Arceneaux 3-pointer to get to 5 points. But, Arceneaux just picked up his second foul, both far away from the basket, which could limit his time.

7:58 p.m.: Wright State starters: Reggie Arceneaux, Julius Mays, Armond Battle, Cole Darling and Johann Mpondo. Mpondo started the season’s first five games but hasn’t started since. He played well in the two games against Loyola last season, although the Raiders will likely rotate big men regularly against the Ramblers; skilled front line of Walt Gibler and Ben Averkamp.

PREGAME: Wright State re-enters Horizon League play with the first of two games in Chicago, against Loyola. Like all league teams, the Raiders played league games in early December to accommodate the February BracketBusters event, and they stand 1-1. They hope to build on the momentum of two straight wins against a Loyola team that has won four straight but (like WSU) struggles to score consistently.

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Game 15 Preview: Wright State (6-8, 1-1) at Loyola (5-7, 0-2)

After seven days between games, Wright State will travel for its two-game Horizon League road swing to Chicago beginning with a look at Loyola’s renovated Gentile Arena tonight. Winning both games in Chicago has historically been difficult for the Raiders, although they pulled off that feat last year.

Tonight’s game could be Wright State’s lowest scoring of the season, as WSU and Loyola rank Nos. 9 and 10 in the Horizon League in scoring offense. Remember how grind-it-out the game against Miami was in Oxford? This should be plenty like that. But the Raiders enter with some momentum having won their last two games, which could provide more confidence for the shooters.

WRIGHT STATE (6-8, 1-1) at LOYOLA (5-7, 0-2)

When: 8 p.m.

Where: Gentile Arena, Chicago

TV: None

Radio: WBZI-FM (100.3), Info 1660 AM

Online

Audio: myclassiccountry.com

Stream: Horizon League Network

The Good

For Wright State, the Raiders have found some momentum with two straight wins, and they hope to keep it. They topped Idaho in overtime last Tuesday in exciting fashion, as Julius Mays banked in a 3-pointer as the overtime buzzer sounded, and then convincingly won against Central Michigan. Mays (28 points against Idaho), Reggie Arceneaux (19 points against Idaho) and Vance Hall (13 points against Central Michigan) all set career highs in points last week, and WSU hopes that means its offense is finally finding some traction. The Raiders had their best pair of shooting games back-to-back last week, making 45.5 percent against Idaho and 45.8 percent against Central Michigan, which is significant for the team that ranks last in the league in shooting (39.1 percent).

For Loyola, the Ramblers started the season 1-7 before winning four straight against Toledo, Chicago State, Rockhurst and Canisius. They boast a strong inside pair with 6-8 junior Ben Averkamp (15.4 points, 7.0 rebounds per game) and 6-7 senior Walt Gibler (14.0 points, 6.5 rebounds per game). Averkamp was a preseason All-Horizon League second team pick, while Gibler has been with the program for four years, mixing starting with strong bench play in that time. While the Ramblers score only 56.8 points per game, they allow just 58.2, and in their four straight wins opponents have scored 55, 49, 46 and 45 points. Averkamp and Gibler combined for 39 points and 17 rebounds against Canisius, as the Ramblers won while shooting 0-for-9 from 3-point range.

The Bad

For Wright State, despite two straight wins, the Raiders still have bouts on inconsistency. Those wins were the first in consecutive fashion against Division I opponents this season. Matt Vest, a sophomore guard who was expected to be one of the top contributors this season, continues to struggle with injuries to his left foot and heel, and he played just 1 minute against Central Michigan last Thursday. Another one of the team’s top contributors, 6-10 sophomore A.J. Pacher, has combined for 5 points and 5 rebounds in 15 total minutes in the past two games as the WSU big men continue to struggle with foul trouble. Freshman forward Tavares Sledge has started the past two games.

For Loyola, the Ramblers have struggled with injuries all season. When they defeated Toledo 57-55, for instance, they played with just six healthy scholarship players. In that game, Averkamp had 31 points and 7 rebounds as Gibler, freshman and third-leading scorer Joe Crisman and senior Jordan Hicks, who has battled injuries throughout his career, were all absent. The four-game winning streak might not have come against the best competition, but first-year coach Porter Moser has coached his underhanded team into playing better defense despite significantly struggling to score points.

Fast Facts

Mays was named the Horizon League’s men’s basketball co-player of the week for last week after scoring in double digits in both games, including his career-high 28 points against Idaho.

Denzel Brito, a Loyola 6-2 sophomore guard, averages 4.1 assists, which is no small feat considering how little the Ramblers score.

Wright State is 9-1 in the last 10 games against Loyola, the only loss in that stretch coming by a score of 53-52 in December 2010.

Loyola ranks second in the Horizon League in scoring defense, allowing 58.2 points per game.

Reggie Arceneaux scored in double figures in both games last week, the first time he reached double figures in consecutive games since Games 3 and 4.

The Ramblers are 3-1 at their renovated Gentile Arena this season. That renovation included the construction of a concourse, new concession stands, new restrooms, new locker rooms and rotating the playing floor 90 degrees.

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Wright State hoping to improve Horizon League marks in conference play

As the Wright State men’s basketball team prepares to end a seven-day break between games and re-enter Horizon League play on Thursday, it’s worth checking how the Raiders have stacked up in the league statistically so far this season.

WSU ranks no higher than third in any HL team statistical category, and the Raiders are third in both 3-point shooting and turnover margin. Unfortunately for WSU, the team ranks 10th (last) in seven different categories.

Still, Wright State carries some momentum into the league game at Loyola on Thursday with consecutive wins against Idaho and Central Michigan. The Raiders also have the league’s co-player of the week in junior guard Julius Mays, who is in the league rankings in six different categories.

WSU Horizon League team ranks

Scoring Offense: 9th (57.4)

Scoring Defense: 4th (62.6)

Scoring Margin: 10th (minus-5.1)

Free Throw Percentage: 5th (69.4)

Field Goal Percentage: 10th (39.1)

Field Goal Percentage Defense 9th (44.8)

3-point Percentage: 3rd (32.5)

3-point Percentage Defense: 9th (44.8)

Rebounding Offense: 10th (29.5)

Rebounding Defense: 5th (33.6)

Rebounding Margin: 9th (minus-4.1)

Blocked Shots: 9th (1.7)

Assists: 10th (10.4)

Steals: 6th (6.2)

Turnover Margin: 3rd (plus-1.5)

Assist/Turnover Ratio: 10th (0.7)

Offensive Rebounds: 10th (8.3)

Defensive Rebounds: 9th (21.2)

Defensive Rebound Percentage: 4th (71.4)

Offensive Rebound Percentage: 10th (24.8)

3-pointers Made: 7th (5.8)

WSU Horizon League individual ranks

Scoring: Julius Mays, 14th (11.3)

Assists: Julius Mays, 7th (3.1)

Steals: Julius Mays, T-7th (1.5)

3-point Percentage: Julius Mays, 6th (40.9); John Balwigaire, 9th (37.8)

Assist/Turnover Ratio: Julius Mays, 4th (1.5)

Minutes Played: Julius Mays, 8th (32.1)

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Wright State overtime win inspires memories of other buzzer-beaters

In the days since Julius Mays banked in a 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer to send Wright State to an 80-78 victory against Idaho, folks around the Wright State athletic department have been remembering other buzzer-beaters in WSU history.

Here are the notable buzzer-beaters or late-game heroics that came to mind in research led by Bob Noss, the WSU assistant athletics director and sports information director.

If these inspire memories of these games or others that might not be on the list, please share.

WSU buzzer-beaters

March 12, 1983: Mike Grote against Kentucky Wesleyan in the NCAA Division II tournament, a 69-67 win that continued the Raiders on a path that, three wins later, resulted in the 1983 D-II national championship.

March 4, 1995: Delme Herriman sank a turnaround jumper after a full-court pass at the buzzer as the Raiders upset 25th-ranked Xavier 71-70 in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference tournament at the Nutter Center.

Feb. 24, 1997: Rob Welch connected on two free throws to help the Raiders beat Loyola on Senior Night, a bright spot in a 7-20 season following the end of the Ralph Underhill tenure.

Dec. 14, 2002: Tyson Freeman finished off a 69-68 victory against South Florida at the Nutter Center.

Nov. 11, 2006: DaShaun Wood helped new coach Brad Brownell win his debut in a 57-56 victory at Miami in the season opener.

Dec. 15, 2007: Again nipping Miami, Todd Brown hit the game-winner in a 58-57 home victory against the RedHawks.

Jan. 1, 2011: Vaughn Duggins rushed down the court and hit a pull-up 3-pointer on New Year’s Day as the Raiders topped visiting Green Bay 67-64.

Here is Herriman’s game-winner against Xavier in 1995 …

And Duggins’ game-winner against Green Bay last season …

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Wright State junior named Horizon League men’s basketball co-player of the week

Julius Mays, who scored a career-high 28 points in a Wright State basketball overtime win against Idaho last Tuesday, was named the Horizon League’s men’s basketball co-player of the week on Tuesday.

Mays, a junior guard, banked in a running 3-pointer as time expired against Idaho in the 80-78 win, and he then scored 12 points in a victory against Central Michigan on Thursday. He is the Raiders’ third league player of the week in the past three seasons.

Mays shared the honor with Green Bay junior forward Brennan Cougill.

Mays leads Wright State (6-8) in points (11.3), minutes (32.1), starts (12), assists (3.1), steals (1.5) and 3-point percentage (40.9).

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Wright State junior guard Julius Mays was named the Horizon League’s co-men’s basketball player of the week on Tuesday (DDN file photo)

WSU men’s basketball league POYs, past 10 seasons

Jan. 31, 2011: Vaughn Duggins

Nov. 16, 2009: Todd Brown

Dec. 31, 2007: Todd Brown

Feb. 12, 2007: DaShaun Wood

Dec. 26, 2006: DaShaun Wood

Nov. 13, 2006: DaShaun Wood

Feb. 6, 2006: DaShaun Wood

Dec. 20, 2004: Zakee Boyd

Nov. 22, 2004: DaShaun Wood

Dec. 8, 2003: Seth Doliboa

Nov. 25, 2002: Vernard Hollins

WSU Horizon League POWs, 2011-12

Dec. 19: Julius Mays, men’s basketball

Dec. 5: Kim Demmings, women’s basketball

Dec. 5: Molley Pipkorn, women’s swimming and diving

Dec. 5: Cassandra Lloyd, women’s track

Nov. 7: Kim Demmings, women’s basketball

Oct. 31: Craig Feehan, men’s soccer

Oct. 24: Neena Zwier, women’s diving

Oct. 17: Hermanus Botha, men’s swimming

Oct. 10: I’esha King, women’s soccer

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Week 7 Horizon League Power Rankings: Butler adding statement wins

After a slow start to the season against a difficult schedule, Butler beat Stanford on Thursday to hand the Cardinal just their second loss. It was the Bulldogs’ second victory in three games against a team from one of the six power conferences, which allowed them to leap up in the rankings to No. 2 behind Cleveland State. Those wins against Purdue and Stanford were two of the league’s most impressive of the nonleague season, making Butler look like the league favorite it was voted in the preseason.

Cleveland State remains No. 1 as it has been for the entire year, since its season-opening victory against Vanderbilt. Milwaukee has suffered several losses with the meat of its nonleague schedule, while Valparaiso’s defense has caused recent struggled for the Crusaders, who started the season hot.

DAYTON DAILY NEWS HL POWER RANKINGS

1) Cleveland State (11-2, 2-0): The Vikings shot just 34.9 percent in suffering their second loss of the season, 70-55 to South Florida last Monday. They responded with a 63-45 defeat of Sam Houston State, in which senior guard D’Aundray Brown led CSU with 12 points. He remains the team’s leading scorer, at 12.4 points per game, followed by Trevon Harmon at 11.2 points per game. Freshman Anton Grady, playing for his hometown school, has led the Vikings in rebounding in four of the past seven games, and he is averaging 4.8 rebounds this season. CSU has the league’s top scoring defense, allowing 57.3 points per game.

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Butler’s Ronald Nored (right) helped the Bulldogs to major wins against Purdue and Stanford in their previous three games (Associated Press photo)

2) Butler (6-7, 0-1): The Bulldogs scored their second significant win in a week with a 71-66 road defeat of Stanford on Thursday. Senior guard Ronald Nored scored 18 points to lead Butler, and junior center Andrew Smith added 10 points and four rebounds. Nored averages 6.3 points per game as well as 3.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists as no Butler player has been a scoring dynamo this season. Kyle Marshall and Smith are tied for the team lead at 9.5 points per game, and eight players average at least 18 minutes. The Bulldogs have done enough as a team to beat 10-3 Purdue and 10-2 Stanford in the previous three games to reenter Horizon League play on a high note.

3) Milwaukee (9-4, 2-0): The Panthers took on their second power conference team in three games, losing to Marquette 64-50 last week. Senior guard Ryan Allen had 16 points and 13 rebounds against Marquette, boosting his season averages to 9.5 points and 5.8 rebounds. Milwaukee has lost three of its past four games to Northern Iowa (10-2), Wisconsin (11-2) and Marquette (11-1), finishing what it hopes will be a brutal stretch that prepares the team for league play. Kaylon Williams, a senior guard, leads the team in scoring (12.5) and assists (5.8).

4) Valparaiso (8-5, 1-0): Scoring has been the Crusaders’ strong point, as they lead the league at 75.1 points per game. But they are ninth in scoring defense, which has hurt them in recent losses that included IPFW (85-76), Oakland (82-80) and IUPUI (97-88). Ryan Broekhoff (15.0), Kevin Van Wijk (14.8) and Jay Harris (11.8) all average double figures in points for high-scoring Valparaiso, and Broekhoff also leads the league in rebounding, at 9.2 per game. The Crusaders are 2-3 in their past five games, and they will likely to continue to struggle stopping opponents, and even in several of their wins, they have allowed 81, 71 and 79 points.

5) Detroit (6-8, 0-2): The Titans shook off consecutive losses to power conference teams Alabama and Mississippi State to top Alabama State 8-56 last week. Ray McCallum, a sophomore guard, scored 19 points with three rebounds and five assists against ASU, and he is averaging 15.1 points per game, which ranks fourth in the league. His teammate, senior guard Chase Simon, is tied with Kendrick Perry of Youngstown State for the league lead at 15.7 points per game. The Titans are 2-2 since the return of senior center Eli Holman, who is averaging 12 points and 7.3 rebounds, and junior forward Doug Anderson, a transfer from Mott Community College, also averages in double figures at 10.5 points per game.

6) Green Bay (6-6, 2-0): Now a firmer member of the starting lineup, 6-9 junior Brennan Cougill combined 19 points, 19 rebounds, three assists and three steals to lead the Phoenix to a 63-61 home defeat of Idaho in their only game last week. A transfer from Iowa, Cougill is averaging 7.3 points and 6.0 rebounds as a second solid inside presence with sophomore center Alec Brown (14.7 points, 7.9 rebounds). Green Bay won four of its previous six games to reach .500 while re-entering league play. Cougill and Brown help Green Bay rank second in the league in rebounding, at 37.8 per game, while ranking first in offensive rebounds, at 14.2 per game.

7) Wright State (6-8, 1-1): The Raiders responded to back-to-back home blowout losses against Cincinnati and Ohio with an overtime victory against Idaho and a win against Central Michigan. After suffering a concussion against Cincinnati and missing the Ohio game, junior guard Julius Mays scored a career-high 28 points against Idaho and 12 points against Central Michigan. He leads the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game as the Raiders continue to struggle to score points (ninth in the league in offense, 57.4 points per game) while playing better defense (fourth in the league, 62.6 points per game).

8) Youngstown State (6-6, 1-1): The Penguins have lost four straight against Buffalo (6-3), Toledo (7-5), Akron (7-5) and Robert Morris (10-3). The loss against Robert Morris, 59-56, included a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer, as Kendrick Perry scored 18 points. Perry leads the team in scoring at 15.5 points per game, as Blake Allen adds 13.6 points per game. Those two ranks Nos. 1 and 2 in the league in minutes played as YSU continues to rely heavily on its starters. The Penguins are also the league’s top 3-point shooting team, making 38.2 percent, as they continue to focus on guard play.

9) Loyola (5-7, 0-2): The Ramblers have won four straight, albeit against Toledo (7-5), Chicago State (0-13), Division II Rockhurst and Canisius (2-9). It’s a nice stretch for first-year coach Porter Moser, whose team is last in the league in scoring offense but second in scoring defense. In two games last week, junior forward Ben Averkamp had 23 points and eight rebounds and then 22 points and five rebounds. He ranks third in the league in scoring (15.4) and sixth in rebounding (7.0) while playing well during the recent stretch. Walt Gibler has also been productive at 14 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, giving the Ramblers a strong inside duo.

10) UIC (4-8, 0-2): The Flames broke a two-game losing stretch with a 57-56 victory against Western Illinois last Monday that came on Gary Talton’s layup with 3.2 seconds left. Daniel Barnes, the team’s leading scorer at 12.1 points per game, scored 22 against Western Illinois, and he followed that with 17 points against Dayton in a loss on Friday. UIC is the league’s top rebounding team, at 38.6 per game, led by Darrin Williams and his 6.8 rebounds per game. Williams also averages 10.3 points and makes 59.5 percent of his shots from the field.

This week’s schedule

Wednesday

Cleveland State at Toledo, 8 p.m.

Thursday

Green Bay at Butler, 7 p.m.

Detroit at UIC, 8 p.m.

Wright State at Loyola, 8 p.m.

Milwaukee at Valparaiso, 8 p.m.

Saturday

Milwaukee at Butler, 2 p.m., HLN Game of the Week

Youngstown State at Cleveland State, 2 p.m.

Detroit at Loyola, 2 p.m.

Wright State at UIC, 2 p.m.

Green Bay at Valparaiso, 5:05 p.m.

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Comparing Wright State’s 6-8 start with other 14-game beginnings

The Wright State men’s basketball team worked to upgrade its schedule with a young roster this season, and the first 14 games saw plenty of inconsistency.

The Raiders won their final two before taking a seven-day break between games to reach 6-8 in the first 14. The six wins are the Raiders’ fewest through 14 games since 2003-04, when they started 6-8 and finished 14-14.

However, WSU hopes to continue momentum of two wins last week into Horizon League play, which resumes against Loyola on Thursday.

Here’s how WSU’s 6-8 start compares with other years in the program’s Division I era:

Wright State through 14 games (overall)

2011-12: 6-8 (?)

2010-11: 8-6 (19-14)

2009-10: 9-5 (20-12)

2008-09: 7-7 (20-13)

2007-08: 9-5 (21-10)

2006-07: 8-6 (23-10)

2005-06: 8-6 (13-15)

2004-05: 7-7 (15-15)

2003-04: 6-8 (14-14)

2002-03: 7-7 (10-18)

2001-02: 9-5 (17-11)

2000-01: 9-5 (18-11)

1999-2000: 5-9 (11-17)

1998-99: 6-8 (9-18)

1997-98: 7-7 (10-18)

1996-97: 3-11 (7-20)

1995-96: 6-8 (14-13)

1994-95: 6-8 (13-17)

1993-94: 5-9 (12-18)

1992-93: 10-4 (20-10)

1991-92: 8-6 (15-13)

1990-91: 8-6 (19-9)

1989-90: 11-3 (21-7)

1988-89: 9-5 (17-11)

1987-88: 10-4 (16-11)

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In Horizon League, 14 four-year players prepare for return to conference play

As teams in the Horizon League prepare to return to league play this week, like in any conference, it will be a return to the familiar for some.

However, even in a league outside of the six power conferences like the Horizon League, many changes occur during a player’s career that cause the four-year career from freshman season to senior season to be relatively uncommon.

This season, for instance, just 14 players (or 9.8 percent of the 142 total players) have been with their teams for at least four seasons. There are a number of reasons for players transferring or leaving after signing with a team. Some have gone to the NBA. Some have left for the personal reasons.

This number underlines the reality in college basketball that it’s not as common as many would like for a player to sign with a school and stay for four seasons. Three schools, including Wright State, have no such players on the roster.

BUTLER

Ronald Nored, 6-foot senior guard, 119 games

Garrett Butcher, 6-6 senior forward, 104 games

CLEVELAND STATE

Jeremy Montgomery, 6-2 senior guard, 119 games

Trevon Harmon, 6-1 senior guard, 105 games

D’Aundray Brown, 6-4 senior guard, 102 games (fifth year, awarded medical redshirt in 2010-11 season)

DETROIT

Donavan Foster, 5-10 senior guard, 106 games

GREEN BAY

None

LOYOLA

Courtney Stanley, 6-1 senior guard, 90 games (out for the season with a knee injury)

Walt Gibler, 6-7 senior forward, 99 games

Jordan Hicks, 6-6 senior guard/forward, 54 games

John Benkoske, 6-9 senior center, 73 games

MILWAUKEE

Tony Meier, 6-8 senior forward, 98 games

UIC

None

VALPARAISO

Erik Buggs, 5-11 junior guard, 83 games (awarded medical redshirt in 2009-10 season)

Nick Shelton, 5-11 senior guard, 33 games

WRIGHT STATE

None

YOUNGSTOWN STATE

Ashen Ward, 6-3 senior guard, 99 games

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Sophomore guard showing toughness for Wright State

Back when December started, as the Wright State men’s basketball team came off three straight losses, WSU coach Billy Donlon turned to his toughest players.

In making his starting lineup for a Dec. 1 game against Cleveland State, Donlon said he wanted toughness in that group. He gave sophomore guard Vance Hall his second career start, beginning what would become a notable month in Hall’s growth for the Raiders.

The latest accomplishment came Thursday, when Hall came off the bench to set career highs in points (13), field goals (5) and 3-pointers (3) in the Raiders’ 60-42 victory against Central Michigan. The win was significant for WSU because it helped the team reach 6-8 with a second straight victory.

110611 wsubb 01.JPG
Wright State sophomore guard Vance Hall has impressed coaches with his performances in December (DDN file photo)

Hall set his previous career high of 10 points against Cincinnati three games ago, in the first of two blowout losses against UC and Ohio. He has played significant minutes in each game this month, a nod to Donlon’s growing trust in the 6-foot-3 guard.

“He’s a fearless kid. He’s a fearless player,” Donlon said. “He doesn’t like to be out-toughed, so you know when he’s been out-toughed, he’s always going to respond in the way you want him to respond. There’s no back down in Vance Hall.”

Hall was the first recruit to commit to Wright State following Donlon’s promotion to head coach. That was May of his senior year at Franklin County High School in Frankfort, Ky., as a high-scoring, high-production guard.

He played the fewest minutes last season of any returning WSU player, but he was learning in practices from former Raiders guards Vaughn Duggins and N’Gai Evans. He responded this season with more athleticism.

“Just had a good day,” Hall said Thursday, “was feeling pretty good.”

He scored seven of WSU’s first 10 points against CMU and was twice fouled while making 3-pointers in the game.

“You just have to zone them out,” Hall said of coming defenders.

He has averaged 4.8 points and 1.6 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per game this season while starting six times. He is both one of the Raiders’ best foul shooters (85.7 percent) and 3-point shooters (11-of-27, 40.7 percent).

“Vance is one of our toughest players,” said WSU junior guard Julius Mays. “You can put him in any position and he’ll have a positive response, starting lineup, coming off the bench, it doesn’t affect him. He comes ready to play at all times. He makes us go to that next level.”

Donlon said Hall’s next step will be increasing his athleticism and creating his own shots off the dribble. As far as intangibles and basketball smarts, Donlon said Hall has always been ahead.

“If he can improve athletically this year to next year, he could become a pretty good one,” Donlon said.

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Wright State dominates Central Michigan in second half in 60-42 win

Final: WSU wins 60-42. The Raiders were led by a career-high 13 points from Vance Hall while shooting 45.8 percent in arguably their best all-around performance of the season. CMU shot 34.8 percent and got just 5 points from leading scorer Trey Zeigler. Julius Mays added 12 points, and Reggie Arceneaux added 11 for WSU, which improved to 6-8 heading into a seven-day break between games.

1:13 second: WSU leads 60-41. Vance Hall has reached a career high 13 points on 5-7 shooting and 3-4 from 3 as the Raiders have continued to dominate. They have shot 46.8 percent, as Julius Mays has scored 12 points and Reggie Arceneaux has 11. CMU has shot 35.6 percent in the game.

5:59 second: WSU leads 54-35. The Raiders have led by as many as 21 points by shooting well (47.6 percent) and frustrating Central Michigan on defense. The Chippewas are shooting 35.1 percent, and leading scorer Trey Zeigler just connected on a layup to reach 5 points on 2-5 shooting. Julius Mays has 12 points to lead the Raiders, and Reggie Arceneaux has 11.

11:09 second: WSU leads 45-32. Julius Mays has scored on two straight possessions to reach 9 points (he also has 5 assists) and help WSU take its biggest lead of the game at 13 points. Reggie Arceneaux has 11 points on 4-9 shooting with 4 assists to lead the Raiders, who are shooting 48.6 percent. CMU is shooting 38.7 percent.

15:46 second: WSU leads 38-20. Reggie Arceneaux has reached 11 points with two early baskets, and Julius Mays has scored as well for WSU to get to 5 points, but he is shooting 2-9. CMU has scored on three of its first four possessions to keep pace with the Raiders scoring this half, and Derek Jackson hit a 3-pointer to reach 9 points and set the current margin.

Halftime: WSU leads 32-23. The Raiders held CMU to no field goals in the final 7:32 of the half, during which they held a 15-5 scoring advantage. Reggie Arceneaux and Vance Hall each scored 7 points in the half as WSU shot 47.8 percent. Derek Jackson has 6 points to lead CMU, which shot 36.4 percent.

3:27 first: WSU leads 30-20. The Raiders have scored on 7 or their last 8 possessions, shooting an un-WSUlike 55 percent from the floor. Seven different players have scored, led by Vance Hall, who scored seven early points. CMU is making 44.4 percent. WSU also has 9 assists on 11 made shots, so the offense is operating efficiently.

6:33 first: WSU leads 20-19. The Raiders used a 9-0 run to take their first lead at 12-10, and the lead has changed four times since. Vance Hall scored 7 early points, getting closer to his career high of 10, and Julius Mays and Cole Darling have hit 3 -pointers on the past two possessions for the Raiders. CMU and WSU have both made 8-17 shots, but WSU has the one extra 3-pointer. Olivier Mbaigoto has 5 points to lead CMU>

11:55 first: CMU leads 10-8. After CMU took a game-high 7 point lead at 10-3, the Raiders got a 5-point swing when Vance Hall was fouled after making a 3-pointer (giving him 5 early points), and WSU got the ball out of bounds instead of a free throw. Reggie Arceneaux then hit a jumper on the possession to set the current margin. But the Raiders have made 3-11 shots to 4-11 for CMU.

15:42 first: CMU leads 7-1. WSU has started 0-5 from the field, including several close misses on nice passes to set up looks. Try Zeigler, CMU’s leading scorer, has only taken one shot while shadowed by Armond Battle and Matt Vest, but Vest went to the bench early in the game trying to stretch out his left leg and Achilles tendon that has given him problems.

6:57 p.m.: Wright State starters same for the second straight game: Reggie Arceneaux, Julius Mays, Armond Battle, Cole Darling, Tavares Sledge.

PREGAME: Wright State will play its final nonleague game at home this season hoping to gain more momentum heading into a week-long holiday break. The Raiders found some enthusiasm with a Tuesday win in overtime against Idaho, during which junior guard Julius Mays hit a running 3-pointer at the buzzer for the 80-78 victory. Central Michigan has lost five of the past six games, but most of them against strong opponents. This game ends a four-game contract between the two schools.

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Game 14 Preview: Central Michigan (5-7) at Wright State (5-8)

Wright State ended the string of two straight blowout losses with an 80-78 overtime defeat of Idaho on Tuesday, and the Raiders face a quick turnaround to host Central Michigan tonight. This game ends a four-year contract with CMU, which has included a 70-68 Raiders overtime loss in 2008, a 69-53 home win in 2009 and 53-49 road win last season.

This is also Wright State’s final nonleague home game of the year, and the result will send the Raiders into a holiday break with either good or bad feelings. The team will have seven days in between games before traveling to Loyola for a Horizon League game on Dec. 29. It will either be a second straight and possibly confidence-building win or a third loss in four games to head into the holidays.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN (5-7) at WRIGHT STATE (5-8)

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Nutter Center

TV: None

Radio: WBZI-FM (100.3), Info 1660 AM

Online

Audio: myclassiccountry.com

Stream: Horizon League Network

The Good

For Wright State, there is renewed optimism about Tuesday’s win against Idaho that included a running 3-pointer banked in by junior guard Julius Mays at the overtime buzzer. That shot, and Idaho’s beyond-halfcourt prayer from Lanton Tatum to tie the game at the end of regulation, provided the game attention on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Wednesday and led to plenty of calls and texts to WSU coaches and players. Mays and freshman guard Reggie Arceneaux both finished with career highs of 28 and 19 points, giving more credence to the idea that those two are the Raiders’ top scoring threats. They rank No. 1 (Mays, 11.3 points per game) and No. 2 (Arceneaux, 8.8) on the team in scoring, and they have taken the first- and second-most 3-pointers on the team. The Raiders’ 69 points in regulation against Idaho was a season best against a Division I opponent, and the 80 points total tied the production against Division III Kenyon College. Freshman Tavares Sledge made his first career start on Tuesday, the 6-foot-9 forward had six points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes. He also made what coach Billy Donlon called a senior-level defensive play when he rotated to help on post defense, a play many of us wouldn’t notice but coaches love.

CORRECTION Central Michigan.JPG
Central Michigan sophomore Trey Zeigler (right) leads the Chippewas in scoring, rebounding, assists and minutes (Associated Press photo)

For Central Michigan, the Chippewas have one of the best players in the Mid-American Conference in sophomore guard Trey Zeigler. At 6 feet 5, Zeigler leads the team in scoring (17.5), rebounding (6.8), assists (2.8) and minutes (31.3) while playing for his father, CMU coach Ernie Zeigler. He was ranked by many services among the top 10 recruits at his position in the country as a senior at Mount Pleasant (Mich.) High School, and his other offers included Michigan, Michigan State, UCLA and Arizona State. Last year, he was the first freshman in MAC history named to the preseason all-league first team. He leads five starters who are the team’s top five scorers, including double-digit averages from 6-foot sophomore Derek Jackson (10.9) and 6-foot freshman Austin McBroom (10.4). The Chippewas have been strong in keeping opponents from shooting well (38.7 percent shooting by opponents) and playing defense around the basket (five blocks per game), as the starting lineup including a freshman, two sophomores, a junior and a senior plays heavy minutes.

The Bad

For Wright State, the Raiders are still trying to find offensive consistency. They rank ninth in the Horizon League in scoring offense (57.2 ppg), last in field goal percentage (38.6) and last in rebounding (29.3 per game). Mays is the only player who averages in double figures in points. Partially because of foul trouble, sophomore forward A.J. Pacher has played just 18 minutes in the past two games with four points and six rebounds total. Sophomore guard Matt Vest continues to struggle with an Achilles tendon injury, and even though he scored nine points against Ohio on Saturday, he went scoreless in five minutes against Idaho. The Raiders have lost by at least 20 points four times this season, including the two games preceding the win against Idaho, so even though the defense played better on Tuesday, coaches are hoping for more improvement there.

For Central Michigan, the Chippewas’ five wins have come against Division II Ferris State and four Division I teams, including UIC of the Horizon League, with a combined 15-29 record. CMU is also trying to find its scoring identity, ranking 247th nationally in scoring offense at 64.7 points per game. With little contributing depth, the starters score 84.1 percent of the team’s points, and only one reserve, 6-1 junior Finis Craddock, plays more than 15 minutes per game. The Chippewas have lost five of six games, although those losses have come against Temple, Tennessee State, Minnesota, Iowa State and Nebraska. In the loss to Nebraska, 72-69 on Tuesday, CMU played mostly well, shooting 52.1 percent and 8-of-17 from 3-point range, but the team made just 11-of-20 free throws. The Chippewas are making 61.8 percent from the line this season.

Fast Facts

Ernie Zeigler is in his sixth season as the CMU coach. The Chippewas went 4-24 the season before he arrived, and he is 69-97 in his tenure, but the team won its fewest games (10) in his time there last season.

Wright State’s wins against Division I opponents have come by 17 (Jackson State), 1 (Youngstown State), 2 (Miami), and 2 (Idaho) points.

CMU is 6-12 against Horizon League opponents under Zeiger.

Ten different Raiders players have started this season. Of the available scholarship players (the plan is for freshman Alex Pritchett to redshirt), only guards Kendall Griffin and Jason Cuffee have not started.

Today’s game is the 24th anniversary of CMU’s Tommie Johnson setting a school record for points in a game (53), which coincidentally came against Wright State in a 97-68 Chippewas win in WSU’s first season as a Division I program.

Wright State has forced more turnovers (209) than it has given up (192) this season.

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Two Wright State guards make for promising pair in overtime win

One thing about Wright State coach Billy Donlon, he’s an explainer.

Not all coaches are like that. Particularly when dealing with reporters, they’re vague, brief or just too broad. Here’s an example of how Donlon can make things fairly easy to understand.

On Wednesday afternoon, we were discussing Wright State’s 80-78 overtime win against Idaho. In that game, junior Julius Mays (28 points) and freshman Reggie Arceneaux (19) both scored career highs in points. They combined to score all 11 points in overtime, and Mays hit the running 3-pointer at the buzzer to win.

Julius Mays.jpg
Julius Mays

Their production has been up and down this season, by Tuesday night’s Idaho win seemed to signal they could be key scorers for the Raiders. Mays leads the team at 11.3 points per game, and Arceneaux is second at 8.8 points per game.

“I think, for the year, that’s what they’re capable of,” Donlon said.

Reggie Arceneaux.jpg
Reggie Arceneaux

Then he explained by Mays and Arceneaux are so important for Wright State. They are the team’s two best at handling the ball and working off screens, and they often get plenty of attention from opponents early in games. That could mean, Donlon said, that they don’t start fast, because they can find teammates who are open because of that attention.

Then the opponent has a choice, adjusting to ease off of Mays and Arceneaux or allowing the passes to others. Against Idaho, Mays and Arceneaux were able to take advantage of open spaces to score.

Of course, this hasn’t always worked according to plan, as the Raiders have struggled on offense throughout the season. But when it works, Mays and Arceneaux can be strong distributors until space opens to score. On Tuesday, for instance, they combined for seven assists, four steals and just three turnovers.

“That’s hard for them, because their personality is to attack,” Donlon said. “They have to be unselfish to start a game, and as it goes on they can be more aggressive.”

When Mays or Arceneaux is out of the game — Mays missed WSU’s loss against Ohio on Saturday with a concussion — defenses can focus on the other, because they are the team’s two best ball handlers.

Another reason their distribution is important is that the Raiders do have plenty of players who can make shots, even if the percentages haven’t been very good so far this season.

“They’re really good together,” Donlon said. “If one is out, (opponents) can lock in.”

Speaking of which, they are top two on the team in minutes: Mays at 31.9 per game, Arceneaux at 28.2 per game.

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Overtime win, with two buzzer-beaters, earns Wright State some ESPN attention

Wright State’s 80-78 overtime win against Idaho on Tuesday night had unlikely enough circumstances to earn some national attention.

ESPN spent a short SportsCenter segment on the game, which included a beyond-halfcourt 3-pointer by Idaho’s Landon Tatum to tie the game 69-69 at the end of regulation and a running 3-pointer by Wright State’s Julius Mays as time expired in overtime to win.

The lead-in to the segment was, “Best finish from college basketball Tuesday night happened in Dayton.”

And it was definitely a good finish. The lead changed 16 times on Tuesday as the Raiders shook off blowout defeats in their previous two games to get career highs of 28 points from Mays and 19 points from freshman guard Reggie Arceneaux.

Idaho left town at 7-5 while Wright State improved to 5-8 with a home game against Central Michigan coming on Thursday. The Raiders have renewed optimism entering that game.

Wright State earned its first overtime win since Feb. 7, 2007 in its 12th overtime game in the past 11 seasons. The Raiders went 4-7 in overtime games in the 10 seasons from 2001-11.

WSU overtime games, 2001-11

Dec. 20, 2011: Win vs. Idaho, 80-78

Jan. 16, 2010: Loss at Milwaukee, 67-61

Feb. 18, 2009: Loss at UIC, 77-66

Nov. 22, 2008: Loss at Central Michigan, 70-68

Feb. 7, 2007: Win at UIC, 74-64

Feb. 19, 2005: Win vs. Northern Illinois, 72-66

Jan. 3, 2005: Loss at Green Bay, 73-71

Dec. 8, 2004: Loss vs. Miami, 59-54

Nov. 16, 2004: Win at Tulsa, 72-66

Jan. 14, 2002: Loss vs. Milwaukee, 86-80

Jan. 12, 2002: Loss at Detroit, 75-74

Jan. 2, 2002: Win at Butler, 90-87 (two overtimes)

Here are the highlights from Tuesday’s game, including the two buzzer-beaters.

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Mays runner at the buzzer gives Wright State 80-78 OT win against Idaho

Final: WSU wins 80-78. Julius Mays banked in a runner at the buzzer to give the Raiders the overtime win. He finished with a career-high 27 points as freshman guard Reggie Arceneaux also scored a career-high 19 points.

The lead changed four times in the final 19.5 seconds.

Regulation: Tied 69-69. Idaho’s Landon Tatum banked in a 3-pointer from just beyond halfcourt as the buzzer sounded to send the game into overtime after Wright State hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 28.7 seconds to take a 69-66 lead with 1.1 seconds left.

3:55 second: Idaho leads 61-58. Wright State just forced a travel by Idaho, but the Vandals had scored on the previous three possessions to keep an advantage they have held for most of the half. Julius Mays his two free throws to reach 18 points with 5:08 left, and Reggie Arceneaux has also reached double figures, with 10 points. Idaho is shooting 50 percent in the game, and WSU is shooting 44.2 percent.

7:54 second: Idaho leads 53-51. Wright State surged to an 8-2 scoring advantage, closed by a rebound save and 3-pointer from Cole Darling with 9:07 left to cut the deficit to 52-51 (Idaho has led by as many as 7 points). Julius Mays has 13 points, and Kyle Barone continues to be big inside for Idaho, with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Vandals making 7-of-13 this half, while WSU has made 40 percent in the half.

12:43 second: Idaho leads 50-43. The Vandals used a 7-0 run to break a 36-36 tie to go up by a game-high 7 points at 43-36 with 15:52 left. The teams have traded baskets since, with WSU guard Julius Mays reaching 13 points and Idaho’s Kyle Barone reaching 14 points and 11 rebounds. Idaho shooting 6-9 this half, shaking off early rust.

Halftime: Idaho leads 33-32. The Vandals took their biggest lead of the game at 33-30 with 57 seconds left on a Mansa Habeeb score that ended a 10-2 scoring advantage for Idaho. Vance Hall hit two free throws in response to get to 7 points in the game with also a 3-pointer and a nice move to the basket. Julius Mays leads Wright State, which is shooting 44.8 percent, with 9 points. Idaho rebounded on offense to finish the half with 44 percent shooting, led by 10 points and 7 rebounds from 6-10 Kyle Barone.

3:23 first: WSU leads 28-23. Idaho is bothered on offense, whether by Wright State defense or travel or whatever else. Vandals shooting 38.1 percent and 0-3 from 3-point range. WSU is making 46.2 percent, including an Armond Battle put-back (his second of the game) to match the Raiders biggest lead of 5 points. Battle has 6 points, and Julius Mays has 9 on 4-6 shooting. Idaho big man Kyle Barone has 8 points, 7 rebounds.

7:54 first: WSU leads 17-16. Julius Mays brought his shooting stroke with him back from his one-game absence. He has 7 points on 3-5 shooting to lead the Raiders, who are making 41.2 percent as a team. Idaho is continuing to struggle from the floor, making 35.3 percent, which, again, is significant for the country’s 8th-best shooting team. The Vandals also don’t have a 3-pointer, and big man Kyle Barone leads them with 5 points.

11:51 first: WSU leads 12-10. Idaho took a brief lead at 10-9 before Vance Hall hit a 3-pointer to put the Raiders back up. WSU is shooting 5-11, while Idaho is shooting 4-13 as the Vandals have missed a mix of outside shots and inside looks. The inside moves in particular have been contested more than WSU has done recently, a position for the Raiders early.

15:47 first: WSU leads 6-3. Idaho, which entered the game 8th nationally in shooting percentage, has started 1-for-7 while WSU is shooting 3-of-5. Julius Mays has 4 quick points after missing the last game with a concussion and back bruise. He’s also wearing a sleeve on his left arm to protect his left elbow, which was also hurt in the fall against Cincinnati.

20:00 first: Freshman forward Tavares Sledge is starting for the first time this season, along with Reggie Arceneaux, Julius Mays, Armond Battle and Cole Darling.

PREGAME: Wright State (4-8) has been beaten in two straight blowout losses at home against Cincinnati and Ohio, and the Raiders will try to get back to competitive play against Idaho (7-4). The Vandals are among the country’s top-shooting teams, which is much different than Wright State, which 320th nationally in field goal percentage. WSU could get a boost with leading scorer Julius Mays (concussion, back bruise) back in uniform.

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Game 13 Preview: Idaho (7-4) at Wright State (4-8)

Wright State will play a third straight home game after facing two big defeats last week. The Raiders have now lost three of four games, and one of the main challenges for WSU coach Billy Donlon will be helping his team keep some confidence after the back-to-back losses by 20 points or more.

WSU is expected to have leading scorer Julius Mays back tonight after he missed the previous game following a hard fall to the ground against Cincinnati on Wednesday. But Mays re-enters a lineup that is still struggling to score, ranking among the nation’s worst in scoring and field goal percentage. Idaho, meanwhile, is one of the country’s best shooting teams.

IDAHO (7-4) at WRIGHT STATE (4-8)

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Nutter Center

TV: None

Radio: WBZI-FM (100.3), Info 1660 AM

Online

Audio: myclassiccountry.com

Stream: Horizon League Network

The Good

For Wright State, there wasn’t much good to come out of an 82-54 loss to Ohio on Saturday, the second straight home thumping suffered by the Raiders. Sophomore forward Cole Darling had one of the few efficient games, leading the team with 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting and adding seven rebounds. He has scored in double figures in two of the past three games, and the Raiders hope he can continue to be a solid option in both scoring and rebounding. Sophomore guard Matt Vest returned after missing the Cincinnati game last Wednesday with an Achilles tendon injury to score nine points and grab two rebounds against Ohio, which was a positive sign for the player who also missed the first five games of the season with a sprained left ankle. Junior guard Julius Mays is expected to be back after missing the last game with a concussion and back bruise suffered against Cincinnati.

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Sophomore Stephen Madison (left) and Idaho have battled several bigger opponents this season, including Oregon State, which the Vandals beat 74-60 (Associated Press photo)

For Idaho, the Vandals continue to be spot-on shooters. They rank eighth in the country, out of 338 Division I teams, in shooting percentage, making 50.3 percent from the field. They are also sixth nationally in 3-point percentage, making 42.8 percent as a team. But, despite all of that shooting, Idaho is just 112th nationally in scoring. Senior guard Deremy Geiger leads the team at 13.6 points per game, including 31-of-68 3-point shooting. He was fifth on the team in scoring last year after transferring there from Grayson County College in Texas, and he has stepped up his scoring this year. Idaho scored an impressive victory against Oregon State, 74-60, after losing to Washington State by two points, 66-64, so the Vandals also have experience against bigger opponents. Kyle Barone, a 6-10 junior who was a preseason All-Western Athletic Conference second team pick, averages 11.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

The Bad

For Wright State, it has been two blowout home losses in a row, 78-68 to Cincinnati and against Ohio on Saturday. Ohio shot 61.7 percent while Cincinnati made 54.9 percent, breaking down the WSU defense in easy fashion. A game after producing 11 points and six rebounds against Cincinnati, sophomore forward A.J. Pacher had one point and two rebounds against Ohio, continuing an up-and-down season that has included 3, 9, 16, 0, 7, 11 and 1 points in the past seven games.

For Idaho, as well as the Vandals shoot, they haven’t always turned that efficiency into major points. They rank 294th nationally in turnover margin, and they are also 268th in free throw percentage, at 63.5 (try to explain that one). Idaho hasn’t lost to a team with a losing record, so there aren’t any bad losses yet on the resume.

Fast Facts

Connor Hill, who has averaged 6.8 points in eight games for Idaho, was last year’s Idaho Class 5A player of the year.

Mays continues to be Wright State’s leading scorer, at 9.7 points per game, and he is shooting 40 percent from the field and 71.9 percent from the free-throw line.

Good shooting is not new for Idaho. Last year’s Vandals were among the country’s best at 3-point percentage (24th nationally, 38.3) and shooting percentage (49th, 46.1).

Wright State ranks 9th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 63 points per game.

Geiger, Barone, 6-5 forward Stephen Madison (12.5 ppg) and 5-11 guard Landon Tatum (8.1 ppg) have each started all 11 games.

WSU freshman forward Tavares Sledge is the most productive WSU player, based on minutes. He is averaging 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds in just 13.3 minutes per game.

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Wright State senior honored for joining 1,000-point club

After today’s Wright State women’s basketball victory against Southeast Missouri State in the Wright State Invitational, senior forward Molly Fox was presented with a basketball by Athletic Director Bob Grant for passing 1,000 career points last week.

Fox finished today’s game with 25 points, reaching 1,047 in her four-year WSU career. She averaged 6.9 and 8.6 points in her first two seasons before jumping to 14.8 points per game as a junior and 14.5 points per game this season.

Fox was a preseason All-Horizon League first team pick. She ranks 15th on the WSU career list with a good chance to reach the top 5 by the end of the season.

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Molly Fox

WSU 1,000 point scorers

1) Jodi Martin (1979-83), 2,055 points

2) LaShawna Thomas (2007-11), 1,653 points

3) Brittney Whiteside (2003-07), 1,413 points

4) Jenny Horn (1982-86), 1,307 points

5) Reggen Stewart (1997-2001), 1,277 points

15) Molly Fox (2008-present), 1,047 points

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Slow starts continuing to hurt Wright State in 2-4 December

The Ohio men’s basketball team, finally with some veterans, has been good out of the gate this season. It was the same on Saturday night against Wright State, when the Bobcats shot 59.1 percent in the first half and led 43-22 at halftime on the way to an 82-54.

Before the game, though, Ohio coaches were worried that the team wasn’t ready to play. We learned that afterward when Bobcats coach John Groce was asked what his method has been this season to induce the fast starts:

“It’s funny, because we played Morgan State not too long ago (61-53 win on Dec. 3), and I though were ready to play,” Groce said. “We had a great walk through, the guys were bubbly and had a lot of pop and juice, and then we didn’t play particularly great. (Saturday) before the game, my assistant coach Dustin Ford said to me, ‘John, we’re not ready to play. We’re not ready.’ I Just said, ‘OK,’ because he’s out there for warm-ups.

“The reason I’m offering that story is because sometimes trying to climb into the minds of 18- to 22-year-olds can be difficult. I will say this, I think rah-rah speeches are overrated, and I think it’s a long season, it’s 35 to 40 games. We talk about trusting one another, trusting the coaches, trusting the system, and that stuff is going to be (sustainable) over the course of several games versus revenge factors or rah-rah speeches. I tell the guys those things last about four minutes, and then it’s about who plays the best, who executes the best, who takes care of the ball best, who shoots the ball well, who defends well, who rebounds well. I really believe that.”

So, to Groce, there is no secret to motivating a team to start fast, with which WSU has struggled at times this season. Here’s a look at WSU first halves:

Ohio State: Trailed 34-20, shot 41.2 percent

Kenyon: Led 42-24, shot 41.4 percent

Jackson State: Led 17-14, shot 26.9 percent

Florida: Trailed 44-29, shot 42.9 percent

North Florida: Tied 28-28, shot 46.2 percent

Charlotte: Trailed 28-26, shot 32 percent

Cleveland State: Tied 21-21, shot 40.9 percent

Youngstown State: Trailed 38-32, shot 45.5 percent

Air Force: Trailed 27-13, shot 18.5 percent

Miami: Trailed 22-21, shot 29.2 percent

Cincinnati: Trailed 43-22, shot 40 percent

Ohio: Trailed 43-22, shot 40.9 percent

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Ohio starts fast in 82-54 win against Wright State

Final: Ohio wins 82-54. The Bobcats led 43-22 at halftime, when they show 59.1 percent in the opening half. D.J. Cooper led OU with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists, while Cole Darling had a team-high 11 points for Wright State.

3:28 second: Ohio leads 77-47. The Raiders got as close as 18 points before the Bobcats responded with a 14-0 run to pull further away, by a game-high 32 points. D.J. Cooper has 20 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists for Ohio, while Ivo Baltic has added 15 points on 7-9 shooting. Reggie Arceneaux, Cole Darling and Armond Battle each have 8 points for Wright State.

7:37 second: Ohio leads 65-45. The Raiders have stopped the bleeding, already outscoring their first half with more aggressiveness on offense. Plenty of cheering has come lately from the Fricker’s deck, where we assume OU fans are watching the Bobcats in their bowl game. Reggie Arceneaux, Armond Battle and Cole Darling all have 8 points for Wright State, which is shooting 40.5 percent in the game to 57.9 percent for Ohio.

10:45 second: Ohio leads 61-41. Wright State has scored on five straight possessions with six points from Armond Battle and five from Matt Vest while trying to make the game respectable. The Raiders once trailed by 30. Cole Darling and Reggie Arceneaux each have 8 points, while Ivo Baltic and Reggie Keely each have 11 points for Ohio, which is spreading out its scoring.

15:44 second: Ohio leads 53-23. This is the Bobcats’ largest lead, secured with points on four of the first five possessions of the second half. Reggie Keely has a team-beat 11 points, and D.J. Cooper has added 10 as OU is now shooting 60.7 percent to Wright State’s 38.5 percent. Cole Darling has the WSU scoring lead, at 6 points.

Halftime: Ohio leads 43-22. The Bobcats led by as many as 23 points in the first half while shooting 59.1 percent to 40 percent for Wright State. Cole Darling lead Wright State with 6 points, while Reggie Keely is best for Ohio, at 9 points.

3:22 first: Ohio leads 34-13. The Bobcats are using smooth offensive precision and scored on five straight possessions until a no-look pass went out of the hands of an OU player out of bounds. Ohio is on a 10-0 run as Wright State is shooting 29.4 percent and 1-7 from 3-point range.

7:28 first: Ohio leads 20-11. Wright State was just called for its 12th foul, leading to 9 Ohio points on free throws. The Bobcats have also made 5-11 from the floor, and Reggie Keely and Ivo Baltic both have 5 points for them. Vance Hall just made a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer for Wright State, its first of the game, to get to 1-of-4 from 3-point range in the game. WSU has also committed 9 turnovers, a high number for the Raiders.

11:44 first: Ohio leads 12-5. Wright State was tied at 3-3 but is shooting 2-8. Ohio is making 4-10 but has also made 4-5 free throws, and 6-8 junior Ivo Baltic has 5 points to lead the Bobcats. Neither team looking very fluid on offense so far. The Raiders already have 7 fouls this half, but Ohio is not a good free throw shooting team.

15:27 first: Ohio leads 5-3. Ohio scored the first 3 points before the Bobcats’ D.J. Cooper was called for a technical foul and John Balwigaire made 1-of-2 free throws. WSU’s Cole Darling sank a jumper with 16:06 left, but he fouled Ohio’s Reggie Keely on his layup, and Keely will shoot a free throw after the time out.

6:58 p.m.: Wright State starters: Reggie Arceneaux, John Balwigaire, Cole Darling, Armond Battle, A.J. Pacher.

PREGAME: Ohio University (8-1) has produced one of the best starts in school history heading into tonight’s game against Wright State (4-7). The Bobcats are 8-1 for the first time since 1954-55 with a loss only to then-No. 7 Louisville by five points. Wright State is coming off a 78-58 loss to Cincinnati against a Beacats team that said it was extra motivated to prove that losing four players to suspension because of a brawl against Xavier would not keep them from playing well. They dominated the Raiders, who are now playing the second of four straight home games.

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Game 12 Preview: Ohio University (8-1) at Wright State (4-7)

Coming off a 20-point loss against Cincinnati in a game broadcast on ESPN2 on Wednesday, Wright State welcomes a team with its hottest start in more than half a century. Ohio University is 8-1 for the first time since 1954-55, and the Bobcats have done it with strong depth, good guard play and a loss only to then-No. 7 Louisville by five points.

The Raiders are playing their second of four straight home games, and they will try to continue a streak of alternating wins and losses that have mixed tough offensive performances with strong defensive performances. WSU has beaten three Division I opponents, including one with a winning record (Youngstown State), so it has a chance to show it can both rebound from a disappointing performance and secure a notable win.

OHIO UNIVERSITY (8-1) at WRIGHT STATE (4-7)

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Nutter Center

TV: Dayton’s CW

Radio: WBZI-FM (100.3), Info 1660 AM

Online

Audio: myclassiccountry.com

Stream: Horizon League Network

The Good

For Wright State, junior guard John Balwigaire shook a string of slower games to score 11 points against Cincinnati on 4-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-2 3-pointers. The 11 points nearly equaled his total of the previous six games (12) as he remains the team’s best 3-point shooter (42.9 percent). Sophomore guard Vance Hall was praised throughout the ESPN2 broadcast of the Cincinnati game by commentator Mark Adams for his toughness, and he scored a career-best 10 points in 19 minutes, including 6-of-6 free throws. Hall has now made 16-of-18 free throws this season for an 88.9 percent clip. Hall has started the past five games and played well, increasing his aggressiveness on offense while continuing to be in the right places on defense to please coach Billy Donlon. As far as aggressiveness, sophomore forward A.J. Pacher is also increasing his intensity on offense. He scored 11 points against Cincinnati to reach double figures for the fourth time this season, and he reached six rebounds for the fifth time this season. As a team, the Raiders stopped a string of high-turnover games (22 and 17 in the previous two) with 13 against UC’s pressuring defense.

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D.J. Cooper, an Ohio University sophomore guard, is among the best players in the Mid-American Conference (Associated Press photo)

For Ohio, junior guard D.J. Cooper is where the positives start. He averages 14.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.6 steals in 31.8 minutes per game and was an All-Mid-American Conference first team selection last season. He handles the ball well and gets to plenty of rebounds and steals, staying around the ball often. Against Portland on Dec. 10, Cooper produced a triple-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He has scored as many as 43 points in a game, against St. Bonaventure in December 2010, and he has dished out as many as 15 assists in a game (last January). The Bobcats added a solid transfer in Walter Offutt, who transferred to Wright State from Ohio State for a few months before leaving for OU. He averages 12.2 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Cooper and Offutt are among nine Bobcats who average double digits in minutes, giving the team enviable depth. Reggie Keely, a 6-8 junior, comes off the bench to lead the team in rebounding (6.1) and score 10.3 points per game.

The Bad

For Wright State, the Raiders allowed UC to get 12 offensive rebounds, the fifth time this year an opponent has reached double digits in offensive rebounds against WSU. The Raiders have played mostly solid “first shot” defense, but they have been hurt by second-chance points. Junior guard Julius Mays, who leads the team in points, minutes, assists and steals, is doubtful for the game after suffering a concussion and bruised back against Cincinnati. He fell to the ground hard in the second half without being able to brace himself. Reggie Arceneaux, WSU’s freshman point guard, has made 13-of-45 shots (28.9 percent) in the past six games while averaging 5.7 points per game in that span. He remains the team’s second-leading scorer, at 8.0 points per game.

For Ohio, one of the few weaknesses in the season overall has been free-throw shooting, as the Bobcats make 65.2 percent from the line. They have still been able to win several close games, including Lamar in overtime, Marshall 70-68, and Oakland 84-82. Cooper has struggled to get going shooting, as he makes 34.7 percent and 25 percent from 3-point range. He has been to the free-throw line 46 times, but he makes just 69.6 percent as the Bobcats overall have shot 54 fewer free throws than their opponents this season. OU commits a high number of fouls, but the Bobcats have the depth to compensate for foul trouble.

Fast Facts

Nick Kellogg, a 6-3 sophomore guard, is the son of former Ohio State standout and television analyst Clark Kellogg. He averages 7.9 points and 1.3 rebounds.

Pacher leads Wright State in rebounding, at 4.5 per game.

OU has just one senior on the roster, 6-8 senior Kenny Belton, who has played two total minutes this season.

Wright State averages 55.5 points per game, which records second-to-last in the Horizon League.

The Bobcats rank third in the Mid-American Conference in scoring offense (73 points per game) and fourth in scoring defense (63 points per game).

The Raiders are 3-3 at home this season and 2-0 when they lead at the half.

And finally, here’s a recap of OU’s last game, a victory against Division III Marietta College …

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Ohio U. coach understands Wright State inexperience from his own young roster

Last season, John Groce’s third as the Ohio University men’s basketball coach, he played six freshmen and sophomores in his regular lineup. The Bobcats got off to a slow start, going 8-11 before finishing on an 11-4 stretch.

He recognizes Wright State’s youth, with eight freshmen and sophomores available on the roster. Because he’s been through it.

“I’ve told them that’s no excuse anymore,” Groce said of his current six sophomores and five juniors. “That’s out. We were young last year, but these guys have enough experience that we’re not young anymore.”

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Ohio University coach John Groce is 59-49 in his fourth season coaching the Bobcats (Associated Press photo)

Last season’s experience has helped this season’s team. The Bobcats are 8-1 entering Saturday’s game at Wright State with strong depth that has helped them spread out minutes. Nine players average double digits in minutes per game.

One of the players helping to drive that success is guard D.J. Cooper, a 5-foot-11 junior from Chicago. An All-Mid-American Conference first team selection last year, Cooper averages 14.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.6 steals in 31.8 minutes per game.

“He does a lot of things well,” Groce said of Cooper. “He rebounds well for his size and just gets his hands on a lot of balls. He and Mike Conley Jr. (whom Groce coaches as an Ohio State assistant) are the two guys I’ve coached who have the best vision.

“He made a pass against Marietta. I was standing near the end of the bench with our strength coach, and I turned to him and said, ‘How did he do that?’ ”

Groce said Cooper needs to improve his shooting, as he is making 34.7 percent and just 25 percent from 3-point range. He sees that in his upcoming opponent, too.

“I look at Wright State, and their percentages just aren’t indicative of how good of shooters they are, either,” Groce said.

An interesting story in this game is OU guard Walter Offutt, a 6-3 guard from Indianapolis who transferred to the Bobcats from Wright State. Offutt first went to Ohio State and landed at Wright State as a transfer in the winter of 2009-10. He stayed only a few months and transferred to OU in the spring of 2010.

“I’ve known Walt since the eighth grade,” Groce said. “He’s a tremendous young man and a great student. Say your son goes to college, you would want him to be this kind of student and person.

“We didn’t have anything available (when he transferred out of Ohio State), but I know Brad Brownell pretty well, and he called me and asked me about him. It just didn’t work out there.”

The Bobcats’ 8-1 start is the program’s best since 1954-55. Their only loss came 59-54 to then-No. 7 Louisville, and they have beaten winning teams Marshall, Lamar and Oakland.

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Wright State leading scorer could miss Saturday’s game with concussion

Julius Mays, Wright State’s leading scorer, could miss Saturday’s game against Ohio University while recovering from a concussion suffered during Wednesday’s game against Cincinnati.

Mays, a junior guard, took a hard spill to the floor with 12:56 left in the game after jumping in for a rebound and falling without being able to brace himself. He was taken immediately to the training room, where WSU medical personnel conducted concussion testing.

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Julius Mays

Mays missed practice on Thursday, and WSU Athletic Trainer Jason Franklin said Mays’ return by Saturday is doubtful because that would leave little time for him to pass the necessary tests to be cleared.

He also suffered a contusion to his back, which landed first on the ground before his head snapped back. ESPN2, which broadcast the Wright State-Cincinnati game, showed several replays of the fall.

Mays was back in the WSU bench area for the end of the game, a 78-58 Wright State loss. Ohio University is 8-1.

Mays is averaging 9.7 points and 2.7 rebounds while starting 10 times in 11 games.

Sophomore guard Matt Vest is recovering from an Achilles tendon injury that is in part a result of the left ankle sprain he suffered in the Raiders’ exhibition game and caused him to miss the season’s first five games. He did not play Wednesday.

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Cincinnati blitzes Wright State early, keeps advantage for 78-58 win

Final: UC wins 78-58. The Bearcats played without four suspended players but led handily the entire way in a game broadcast on ESPN2.

Cincinnati used a 17-0 run after Wright State scored the game’s first two points to lead 17-2 and never looked back. The Bearcats shot well all night, kept Wright State from any sort of offensive rhythm and applied enough pressure to keep a comfortable lead. UC’s lead hovered near 20 points for most of the game.

Sean Kilpatrick led UC with 20 points, and John Balwigaire and A.J. Pacher had 11 points to lead the Raiders.

3:10 second: UC leads 73-49. Cashmere Wright has scored on a prayer 3-pointer near the end of the shot clock and a cutting layup with 3:57 left to set the current margin. The Bearcats have shot well on night, put pressure on Wright State and kept the Raiders from getting anything going. John Balwigaire and Vance Hall (11 and 10 points) have been bright spots offensively, making a combined 6-8 shots.

7:27 second: UC leads 68-43. The Bearcats have their biggest lead, and there were plenty of cheers when UC’s JaQuon Parker hit a 3-pointer with 7:47 left to set the current margin and give the Bearcats their biggest lead of the game. Freshman Tavares Sledge produced a solid three-point play to cut the deficit to 20 at 63-43, but UC continues to push ahead.

11:25 second: UC leads 58-37. The Bearcats went up by a game-high 22 points at 56-34 with 12:20 on a Sean Kilpatrick 3-pointer, which gave him 20 points in the game. A.J. Pacher, a WSU sophomore, came back with a 3-point play on the right block, but the Raiders still can’t gain any traction. Julius Mays left the game with 12:56 left after taking a hard spill to the floor while being unable to brace himself. John Balwigaire leads WSU with 9 points.

15:41 second: UC leads 46-29. UC led 43-22 at halftime before WSU scored a quick 5 points on a John Balwigaire 3-pointer and Vance Hall jumper. Hall has hit two free throws as well to reach 4 points this half. UC is shooting 58.6 percent, and Wright State is shooting 40 percent.

Halftime: UC leads 43-22. Sean Kilpatrick has 17 points for the Bearcats, who used a 17-0 run at the start of the game to take control and led by as many as 23 points. John Balwigaire and Julius Mays each have 5 points for Wright State.

3:34 first: UC leads 35-19. UC’s Sean Kilpatrick just hit his fifth 3-pointer of the game to get to 17 points as the Bearcats have made 57.9 percent in the game, and WSU has made 35.3 percent. The Raiders have passed around the perimeter on recent possessions looking for open 3-pointers. Armond Battle hit one on the last possession to give WSU a 2-of-4 performance from long range in the game (7-15 for UC).

6:23 first: UC leads 30-14. The Bearcats have led by as many as 19 points, at 30-11, with help from 14 points on 5-8 shooting and 4-7 from 3 from Sean Kilpatrick, the UC sophomore who scored 26 points against Wright State last year. UC is shooting 11-19, while WSU is shooting 6-17. John Balwigaire has 5 points to lead Wright State.

11:35 first: UC leads 22-4. Cincinnati used a 17-0 run after Wright State scored the game’s first points to take control. The Bearcats are still shooting hot, 7-12 in the game, including 4-9 from 3, as JaQuon Parker already has 5 rebounds for UC. WSU entered the game bad on offense but good on defense, and UC is on pace to score more than 90 points.

14:24 first: UC leads 19-4. The Bearcats have made 7-10 shots to blitz WSU out of the gate, as WSU has made 2-8 shots. UC’s Sean Kilpatrick, who had a game-high 26 points against Wright State last year on 5-5 3-pointers, has 9 points on 3-of-4 from 3, including two 3-pointers that came after UC rebounded missed Bearcats free throws.

20:00 first: WSU starters: Reggie Arceneaux, Vance Hall, Julius Mays, Armond Battle, A.J. Pacher.

PREGAME: The Raiders are 2-1 in their past three games but still under .500 for the season as they host a Cincinnati team missing starter Yancy Gates and reserves Octavius Ellis, Cheikh Mbodj and Ge’Lawn Guyn, who were suspended for their roles in a game-ending brawl against Xavier on Saturday. WSU is trying to beat a team from one of the six power conferences for just the third time in 26 tries, while UC is 7-0 against Wright State all time.

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Game 11 Preview: Cincinnati (5-3) at Wright State (4-6)

What was already an anticipated game for Wright State because the Raiders will be hosting a Big East Conference team gained traction after Saturday’s game-ending brawl between Cincinnati and Xavier. Because of that fight, the Bearcats will be missing four players, starter Yancy Gates and reserves Octavius Ellis, Cheikh Mbodj and Ge’Lawn Guyn.

ESPN2 was already scheduled to broadcast this game, filling a spot vacated by the NBA lockout, but it will certainly gain more attention because of the aftermath of the UC-Xavier brawl. For Cincinnati, that means more pressure to show good sportsmanship and put on a solid performance on the court. For Wright State, it’s a chance to reach more college basketball fans.

CINCINNATI (5-3) at WRIGHT STATE (4-6)

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Nutter Center

TV: ESPN2

Radio: WBZI-FM (100.3)

Online: myclassiccountry.com

The Good

For Wright State, the Raiders have won two of their past three games, and both victories were not secured until the final minute. Against Youngstown State on Dec. 3, junior Armond Battle made 1-of-2 free throws with 1.4 seconds left for the deciding point as the Raiders survived a Damian Eargle shook shot that bounced off the back of the rim as time expired. They won 63-62. Against Miami University on Saturday, WSU led for most of the second half but had to sweat out Miami’s Julian Mavunga missing the second of two free throws with 2.1 seconds left to hold on to a 51-49 win. The Raiders got a lift against Miami from 6-8 sophomore forward Cole Darling, who scored 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-3 3-pointers, and added six rebounds and two blocks for his best all-around game of the season. Darling had been up and down since returning from a dislocated left shoulder, and coach Billy Donlon has said he is encouraging Darling - like all of his players - to be more aggressive on offense and not hesitate to take shots. WSU has held its past four opponents to 45, 62, 55 and 49 points, and the Raiders rank 43rd nationally in scoring defense, allowing 59.6 points per game.

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Sean Kilpatrick, a Cincinnati sophomore guard, is the Bearcats’ leading scorer who had 26 points against Wright State last season (Associated Press photo)

For Cincinnati, the Bearcats’ defense, despite the absences, has to be respected. They rank 13th nationally in scoring defense (55.6), 46th in 3-point shooting defense (28.7) and 65th in field goal percentage defense (39.3). And, they do all that while committing just 14 fouls per game, which ranks sixth. Donlon said earlier this week he was concerned that Gates’ absence from the lineup would allow the Bearcats to press more on defense, and WSU has struggled recently at holding on to the ball, committing 17 and 22 turnovers in its past two games. Sophomore Sean Kilpatrick, the Bearcats’ leading scorer (14.5) who scored a career-high 26 points against Wright State last season, has played at least 31 minutes in each game this season and scored in double figures seven times. He has also reached double figures in shots in each of the past four games, with 11 points and one rebound in 34 minutes against Xavier. UC has also seen solid play from the point guard position recently, as junior Cashmere Wright has handed out 24 assists against only eight turnovers in the past four games.

The Bad

For Wright State, despite the two wins in three games, the loss was telling for how much the Raiders’ offense can get stuck in neutral. Even though the Raiders saw open shots they had knocked down in other games, they set a program record for fewest points in a 55-34 loss to Air Force last Wednesday. They rank 326th out of 338 Division I teams in scoring offense (55.2 points per game) and also 326th in shooting percentage (36.9). Against Division I opponents, WSU’s season high is 66 points in a 70-66 loss against Charlotte. Sophomore guard Matt Vest is dealing with an Achilles tendon issue that has limited his productivity, as he has played 19 total minutes in the past two games with two points and three rebounds.

For Cincinnati, clearly the Bearcats will have to adjust to the loss of Gates, who matched his season high with 18 points against Xavier and averages 13.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. The Bearcats began the season as a ranked squad but suffered a disappointing 56-54 home loss against Presbyterian before also losing to Marshall (in overtime) and Xavier. UC struggles at the free throw line, making just 60.8 percent, while also producing low-scoring performances (62.3 points per game). After winning 26 games last season and returning plenty of experience, UC expected a strong season, especially after its preseason national ranking. The Bearcats could use an impressive performance in front of an ESPN2 audience not only to display sportsmanship but also to show their season is not lost.

Fast Facts

Cincinnati is 7-0 against Wright State all time.

Julius Mays, a WSU junior guard, is hanging on to a double-digit scoring average at 102. points per game.

UC coach Mick Cronin is 92-80 in his sixth season at Cincinnati and 161-104 in ninth season overall.

Tavares Sledge, a WSU freshman, has played in all 10 games but averages the fewest minutes (12.1) among those who have also played in every game. He averages 4.1 points and 3.5 rebounds with that playing time.

Dion Dixon, a 6-3 senior guard, averages 13.5 points and 4.5 rebounds for UC.

WSU is 2-23 all time against teams from the six power conferences.

And finally, here’s the ESPN coverage of the brawl …

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Wright State defense improving as offense continues to develop

In the Nutter Center interview room minutes after Wright State dropped a 70-66 decision against Charlotte, coach Billy Donlon showed his frustration about his team’s defense.

“Right now,” Donlon said, “we’re a young team that defines itself with its offense. When our offense is not going well, we really guard. When our offense is going well, we take out foot off the pedal on the defensive end.”

In the four games since, Donlon has been more pleased with his team’s work on the defensive end.

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Wright State, while holding Miami University to 49 points in a win on Saturday, continued a stretch of strong defensive efforts (DDN photo by Scott Allison)

Against Cleveland State (45-43 loss), Youngstown State (63-62 win), Air Force (55-34 loss) and Miami (51-49 win), the Raiders have offset a developing offense with stronger defense. In that span, opponents have averaged 52.8 points while shooting 38.2 percent, 34.4 percent from 3-point range and 68.8 percent from the free throw line.

The Raiders rank 43rd nationally in scoring defense, allowing 59.6 points per game, and their average in the past four games would rank in the top 10 nationally. That scoring defense has been a strong suit in the six season Donlon has been with the program as an assistant coach or head coach.

Scoring defense, national ranking

1) Wisconsin, 44.9

2) Virginia, 47.9

3) Wyoming, 49.9

4) Texas A&M, 51.4

5) Louisville, 52.7

13) Cincinnati, 55.6

15) Ohio State, 56.0

43) Wright State, 59.6

65) Xavier, 61.1

91) Miami, 62.6

164) Dayton, 66.3

Wright State scoring defense rank nationally

2011-12: 43rd, 59.6

2010-11: 27th, 61.7

2009-10: 24th, 60.9

2008-09: 5th, 57.5

2007-08: 14th, 60.4

2006-07: 34th, 62.2

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Wright State freshman guard again Horizon League player of the week

Kim Demmings, the Wright State freshman point guard from Richmond, Ind., who leads the Raiders in scoring, was named the Horizon League player of the week on Monday for the second time this season.

That success significant for the Raiders. The league is in its 26th season sponsoring women’s basketball, and Demmings’ Monday award is just the 14th for the Raiders in that time. It it just the second time in team history, after Brittney Whiteside in 2004-05, that a WSU player has been named HL player of the week twice in the same season.

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Kim Demmings

Demmings scored 18 points against Southern Illinois on Saturday, which was the fourth time in eight games this season she has scored at least 18. She reached 20 points against Dayton last Tuesday and scored 25 points each against Ball State and Western Kentucky earlier this season.

Demmings is averaging 16.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 44.6 percent shooting and 82.4 percent from the free throw line.

WSU women’s basketball HL POWs

Dec. 11, 1994: Timothea Clemmer

Dec. 3, 1995: Timothea Clemmer

Dec. 29, 1996: Beth Bartram

Dec. 28, 1998: Reggen Stewart

Jan. 4, 1999: Jess Van Der Geest

Dec. 18, 2000: Reggen Stewart

Dec. 17, 2001: Tiffany Webb

Jan. 20, 2003: Tiffany Webb

Nov. 29, 2004: Brittney Whiteside

Jan. 3, 2005: Brittney Whiteside

Nov. 21, 2005: Alicia Avery

Dec. 19, 2005: Brittney Whiteside

Nov. 7, 2011: Kim Demmings

Dec. 5, 2011: Kim Demmings

WSU Horizon League POWs, 2011-12

Dec. 5: Kim Demmings, women’s basketball

Nov. 7: Kim Demmings, women’s basketball

Oct. 31: Craig Feehan, men’s soccer

Oct. 24: Neena Zwier, women’s diving

Oct. 17: Hermanus Botha, men’s swimming

Oct. 10: I’esha King, women’s soccer

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Week 5 Horizon League Power Rankings: Holman’s return gives Detroit life at No. 4

The week’s biggest personnel development in the Horizon League was center Eli Holman’s return to the roster in Detroit, giving the Titans their three preseason all-league first team players at the same time for the first time this season. Holman missed the first part of the season on a leave of absence, and he made an immediate impact in his return.

But, that didn’t save Detroit from a loss against nationally ranked Alabama on Sunday during a week that saw Horizon League teams go 10-10. Detroit moved up to No. 4 in the rankings this week, and Milwaukee jumped past Valparaiso into the No. 2 spot despite a loss to an impressive Northern Iowa team. Butler and Green Bay have seen slow starts with difficult schedules, which could help them when league play starts full-time later this month.

DAYTON DAILY NEWS HL POWER RANKINGS

1) Cleveland State (10-1, 2-0): The Vikings will take an eight-day break between games after beating Robert Morris (62-58) and Akron (69-66) before facing South Florida (6-4) on Dec. 19. CSU earned the break, streaking to 10 wins with a loss only to Hofstra (not a good one, as the Pride are 3-7) and wins in its past five games by 18, 2, 5, 4 and 3 points. Trey Harmon, a 6-1 senior (Pasadena, Calif.), led the Vikings in scoring in both games last week, with a career best-tying 24 points against Robert Morris and 16 points against Akron. Before those two performances, the preseason all-league first team guard had averaged 6.7 points in the previous six games, although he still averages 11.4 points for the season. That ranks second on the team to 6-4 senior D’Aundray Brown (Youngstown), who averages 12.7 points per game. The Vikings have reached this mini break ranked first in the league in scoring defense (57.3 ppg) but seven in scoring offense (64.2 ppg), meaning CSU will likely continue to see close games with the experience to finish them with wins.

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Guard Ray McCallum and Detroit got a big lift last week with the return of center Eli Holman to the lineup (Associated Press photo)

2) Milwaukee (8-2, 2-0): After scoring an 87-76 victory against DePaul last Monday, the Panthers dropped a 67-51 road decision to Northern Iowa, a game that featured two one-loss teams. Kaylon Williams, a Milwaukee 6-3 senior (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), led the Panthers with 16 points, but the team also shot 5-of-19 from 3-point range, while Northern Iowa made 9-of-19 from long range. Also, a game after scoring 20 points while recovering from a calf injury, 6-8 senior Tony Meier (Wildwood, Mo.), a preseason all-league second teamer, had 2 points in 22 minutes against UNI. The Panthers now prepare to face visiting Wisconsin on Tuesday and Marquette next week, games that will test their strong start. Milwaukee has been without third-leading scorer Ja’Rob McCallum, a 6-0 junior (Marion, Ind.) who averaged 10 points per game while starting the first six games. McCallum has a wrist injury that has caused him to miss the past four games, but the Panthers remain the league’s second-best defensive team (58.6 ppg).

3) Valparaiso (7-3, 1-0): Even in the Crusaders’ midweek loss to IPFW (85-76), 6-7 junior Ryan Broekhoff (Frankston, Victoria, Australia) had 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, four rebounds and three assists. He followed that with 20 points (6-of-8), nine rebounds, four steals and three assists in a victory against Bowling Green (82-79) that helped Valpo reach seven wins. Broekhoff is the league’s top rebounder (9.0) and ranks third in scoring (15.3) while teammate Kevin Van Wijk (6-8 junior from Hoofddorp, Netherlands) is also top 10 in both categories, fifth in scoring (14.4) and tied for fifth in rebounding (6.8). With multiple scoring options, including 6-2 sophomore Jay Harris (Aurora, Ill., 20 points against Bowling Green), the Crusaders have the league’s best scoring offense (74.9 points per game), but they also allow 68.2 points per game, second-worst in the league. Valparaiso’s first two losses came against Arizona and Ohio State, but the Crusaders then dropped their third road defeat against a 5-3 IPFW team that lost to 6-5 Missouri-Kansas City by 15 points.

4) Detroit (5-7, 0-2): The return of Eli Holman overshadows everything else in Detroit. The 6-10, 260-pound senior (Richmond, Calif.) missed the first 10 games while on an indefinite leave of absence from the team. He was on the bench for a Monday night game against St. John’s, which the Titans won 69-63 to stop a three-game losing streak. He then returned to the court against Western Michigan (92-81 win on Thursday) with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks … in 19 minutes. In a 62-54 loss to Alabama on Sunday, Holman again came off the bench with 9 points and 9 rebounds in 27 minutes while 6-2 sophomore Ray McCallum (Beverly Hills, Mich.) led Detroit with 13 points. The Titans have the league’s second-best scoring offense (74.1 ppg) with an exciting brand of play on that end, but they also are last in the league in scoring defense (70.6 ppg). Even stranger, in Detroit wins, opponents have scored 72.4 ppg. In losses, they have scored 69.3 ppg. Next up is a home game against Mississippi State (9-1) on Saturday.

5) Butler (4-6, 0-1): The Bulldogs are on a three-game losing skid after defeats against Xavier (73-61) and Ball State (58-55) last week. With newfound prestige following back-to-back national runner-up finishes, Butler beefed up its schedule, and the record reflects that difficulty. The Bulldogs have played nine Division I opponents (excluding Oakland City) with a record of 54-29. Their three wins have come against teams 11-20, and they have lost to six teams that are a combined 43-9. It gets no easier. The final three nonconference games this year are against Purdue (9-2) on Saturday, Gonzaga (5-2) on Dec. 20 and Stanford (8-1) on Dec. 22. No one was good offensively against Xavier, as 6-4 freshman Roosevelt Jones (O’Fallon, Ill.) led Butler with 10 points, and 6-6 sophomore Khyle Marshall (Davie, Fla.) exploded for 21 points and 16 rebounds against Ball State. Marshall is the team’s leading scorer, at 10.5 points per game, while 6-1 sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins (Indianapolis) adds 10.4 points per game. The Bulldogs are the second-worst shooting team in the league (38.4 percent), ahead of only Wright State.

6) Youngstown State (6-3, 1-1): The Penguins’ story is behind the 3-point line. In two games last week, a win against Division III Fredonia State (69-35) and loss to Buffalo (80-72), YSU went a combined 21-of-59 from long range, attempting 35 3-pointers against Buffalo. The Penguins are the league’s best at making 3-pointers (39.3 percent from that range) and have attempted 20, 29, 19, 27, 15, 28, 27, 24 and 35 3-pointers in their nine games (an average of 24.9 per game). When they’re falling, it looks great. When not, YSU struggles. Blake Allen, a 6-1 junior (Tampa, Fla.), leads the league with 3.4 3-pointers made per game, and he averages 13.6 points per game, behind 6-0 sophomore Kendrick Perry (Ocoee, Fla.), who scores 15.9 points per game. YSU continues to rely heavily on its starters, as those five play 80.5 percent of the minutes. Four of the five starters are in for more than 30 minutes per game, and the fifth, 6-6 senior DuShawn Brooks (Harvey, Ill.), plays 29.8 minutes per game.

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Alec Brown, Green Bay’s 7-1 sophomore seen here earlier this season, had a monster game Saturday as the Phoenix again tangled with a power conference opponent (Associated Press photo)

7) Green Bay (4-6, 2-0): The Phoenix went through a Wisconsin gauntlet last week, dropping road games to Wisconsin (which is 8-2) and Marquette (9-0). Alex Brown, a 7-1 sophomore (Winona, Minn.) delivered one of the league’s statement performances of the week with 22 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks against Marquette, but the Golden Eagles used 32 fast-break points and 46 points in the paint to overpower the Phoenix. Like Butler, they have played a brutal schedule, with opponents a combined 45-11. Green Bay claims the only victory against 9-1 Wyoming and two Horizon League wins, so there’s a bright side to the power conference school defeats. Both 6-0 sophomore Terry Johnson (Chicago) and 6-9 junior Brennan Cougill (Sioux City, Iowa) entered the starting lineup for the first time last week, and the pair has combined to average 14.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. The Phoenix have been solid rebounders (No. 2 in the Horizon League) despite the strong opponents, but they are shooting just 28.4 percent from 3-point range.

8) Wright State (4-6, 1-1): The Raiders responded to setting a program record for fewest points in a game in a 55-34 loss at Air Force with a 51-49 victory at Miami University on Saturday. Offense continues to be an issue, as the Raiders rank ninth in the league in scoring (55.2 ppg), last in field goal percentage (36.9) and last in rebounding (30.4). However, the Raiders have made enough 3-pointers (32 percent this season, 7-of-18 against Miami) to score three wins against Division I opponents (with a combined record of 9-16). Julius Mays, a 6-2 junior (Marion, Ind.), continues to lead the Raiders in scoring, but at just 10.2 points per game, while points are spread out through a variety of players. Reggie Arceneaux, a 5-8 freshman (Charlotte, N.C.), is second on the team in scoring at 8.1 points per game. WSU has seen four of its last five games come down to the final minute with a defense that has allowed 45, 62, 55 and 49 points in the past four games.

9) Loyola (2-7, 0-2): In two games last week, a loss to DePaul and victory against Toledo, the Ramblers showed they have two major scorers on their roster. Walt Gibler, a 6-7 senior (Cincinnati), and Ben Averkamp, a 6-8 junior (Germantown, Wis.), produced the top two individual scoring games in the league this season. Against DePaul, Gibler had 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting and 8 rebounds, and then against Toledo, Averkamp scored 31 points (the league’s first 30-point game this season) on 13-of-26 shooting with seven rebounds. Loyola dropped Toledo to 6-3 on Averkamp’s baseline jumper as time expired, even more important because Gibler (back spasms) and 6-4 freshman Joe Crisman (Munster, Ind.), who injured his non-shooting hand, were not with the team against the Rockets. In fact, the Ramblers played Toledo with just six healthy scholarship players, as they were already missing starting point guard Courtney Stanley (out for the season with a knee injury) and senior Jordan Hicks, a high-potential guard/forward who has been haunted by injuries his entire career.

10) UIC (3-5, 0-2): The Flames stopped a three-game losing skid with a 62-55 defeat of (albeit winless) Northern Illinois on Saturday. Marc Brown, a 6-4 freshman from Dallas, once again showed he can be a solid scoring option with 15 points on Saturday, four games after scoring 24 points in the Flames’ other victory against a Division I opponent, Evansville. He has started six times in playing all eight games this season, averaging 8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds. Gary Talton, a 6-1 junior also from Dallas, has become more of a scoring threat in recent games, as the junior college transfer has scored 10, 14, 18 and 11 points in the past four games to lead the team in scoring at 9.9 points per game. So how is UIC winning? The Flames outrebounded Northern Illinois 42-34 and remain the league’s best on the boards, averaging 41.9 rebounds per game. That helped them reach 19 second-chance points.

Week 4 rankings

1) Cleveland State

2) Valparaiso

3) Milwaukee

4) Butler

5) Youngstown State

6) Detroit

7) Green Bay

8) Wright State

9) UIC

10) Loyola

This week’s schedule

Tuesday

Michigan Tech at Green Bay, 8 p.m.

Wisconsin at Milwaukee, 8 p.m.

UIC at Oregon State, 10 p.m.

Wednesday

Cincinnati at Wright State, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Friday

UIC at Central Michigan, 7 p.m.

Saturday

Mississippi State at Detroit, Noon

Butler vs. Purdue, Conseco Fieldhouse, 2 p.m., CBS

Chicago State at Loyola, 4 p.m.

Ohio University at Wright State, 7 p.m.

Youngstown State at Toledo, 7 p.m.

Nebraska-Omaha at Milwaukee, 8 p.m.

Oakland at Valparaiso, 8:05 p.m.

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Local college players prep success: 877-218 record during senior seasons

Heading into Wright State’s road game on Saturday against Miami, we thought it would be interesting to revisit the Indiana Class 4A state basketball championship game, which featured Julian Mavunga (Miami senior) at Brownsburg High School and Julius Mays (WSU junior) at Marion High School).

Along the way, while discussing the final, thrilling seconds of the game and the players’ roles in it, I wondered: These guys came from successful high school teams, and how important is that in general?

I posed the question to WSU coach Billy Donlon and Miami coach Charlie Coles. Both agreed: The success of the high school team is a factor, although not always the dominant one, and can affect how closely a school looks at a recruit.

As part of that story, I researched the high school senior season records for all the players at Dayton, Miami and Wright State. Not surprisingly, only two players came from schools with losing records during their senior seasons, and the players’ teams in those years won 80 percent of their games.

High school senior seasons

Devin Oliver, UD sophomore, Kalamazoo (Mich.) Central, 28-1

Reggie Arceneaux, WSU freshman, Olympic (Charlotte, N.C.), 28-2

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Dayton’s Josh Benson helped Dunbar to a 16-3 record during his senior season (DDN file photo)

Kevin Dillard, UD junior, Homewood (Ill.) Flossmoor, 27-2

Brian Sullivan, Miami freshman, Upper Arlington, 19-2

Armond Battle, WSU junior, Benilde-St. Margaret’s (St. Louis Park, Minn.), 27-3

Matt Derenbecker, UD redshirt freshman, Metairie (La.) Park Country Day, 34-4

Will Felder, Miami junior, Lutheran East (Cleveland), 23-3

Kendall Griffin, WSU freshman, Avon (Ind.), 22-3

Jared Tadlock, Miami freshman, Charis Prep (Wilson, N.C.), 35-5

Brian Vonderhaar, UD junior, Moeller, 20-3

Johann Mpondo, WSU senior, Decatur (Ill.) Christian, 26-4

Josh Sewell, Miami sophomore, Trinity (Louisville, Ky.), 26-4

Alex Pritchett, WSU freshman, Bedford (Ind.) North Lawrence, 19-3

Bill Edwards, Miami sophomore, Middletown, 19-3

Allen Roberts, Miami junior, Middletown, 19-3

John Balwigaire, WSU junior, West Valley (Hemet, Calif.), 25-4

Jason Cuffee, WSU freshman, Poca (W.Va.), 23-4

Josh Benson, UD junior, Dunbar, 16-3

Matt Kavanaugh, UD junior, Centerville, 21-4

Julius Mays, WSU junior, Marion (Ind.), 24-5

Chris Johnson, UD senior, Brookhaven (Columbus), 19-4

Drew McGhee, Miami sophomore, North Ridgeville, 23-5

Julian Mavunga, Miami senior, Brownsburg, 22-5

Adam Thomas, Miami senior, Springboro, 17-4

Josh Parker, UD senior, Thornton (Harvey, Ill.), 25-6

Ulysses Thomas, WSU freshman, Princeton, 18-5

Ralph Hill, UD sophomore, Westerville North, 18-5

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A (very young-looking) Matt Vest, now a Wright State sophomore, helped Chaminade Julienne to a 16-5 record as a senior (DDN file photo)

Jon Harris, Miami sophomore, Twinsburg, 17-5

Vee Sanford, UD sophomore, Lexington (Ky.) Catholic, 26-8

Matt Vest, WSU sophomore, Chaminade Julienne, 16-5

Tavares Sledge, WSU freshman, Brookwood (Ala.), 19-6

Mitch Asmus, Miami sophomore, Okemos (Mich.), 15-5

Paul Williams, UD senior, Renaissance (Detroit), 15-5

Quinten Rollins, Miami sophomore, Wilmington, 16-6

Cole Darling, WSU sophomore, Holt (Mich.), 18-7

Vance Hall, WSU sophomore, Franklin County (Frankfort, Ky.), 20-8

Vince Legarza, Miami junior, St. Ignatius Prep (San Francisco), 24-10

Will Sullivan, Miami freshman, York (Elmhurst, Ill.), 20-9

A.J. Pacher, WSU sophomore, Vandalia Butler, 14-7

Luke Fabrizius, UD senior, Hersey (Arlington Heights, Ill.), 17-13

Joe Mezher, Miami freshman, St. Xavier, 10-12

Stephen Gossard, WSU freshman, Waynesville, 7-13

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Four Cincinnati players will miss game vs. Wright State with suspensions

The University of Cincinnati announced today that four players — 6-9 senior Yancy Gates, 6-9 freshman Octavius Ellis, 6-10 junior Cheikh Mbodj and 6-1 freshman Ge’Lawn Guyn — will be suspended for roles in a game-ending brawl against Xavier on Saturday, meaning all four will miss the Bearcats’ game at Wright State on Wednesday.

Gates, Ellis and Mbodj have been suspended six games, and Guyn will miss only the Wright State game.

Gates has started all eight games and averaged 13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 34.4 minutes.

Ellis has played in three games and averaged 2.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 8.3 minutes.

Mbodj has started once in five games played and averaged 4.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 16.4 minutes.

Guyn has played in all eight games and averaged 2.3 points, 0.8 rebounds and 11.5 minutes.

The 7 p.m. Wednesday game at the Nutter Center will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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Horizon League wins five of seven games against MAC on Saturday

There have been rumblings in recent years that the Horizon League and Mid-American Conference should team up to create a conference vs. conference challenge.

In some ways, that happened on Saturday, when the leagues matched up seven times. The Horizon League came away with five wins in those seven games, including Wright State’s 51-49 defeat of Miami University of Oxford.

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Wright State’s Tavares Sledge (left) and Cole Darling battled Miami University and Julian Mavunga as one of seven Horizon League teams to play MAC opponents on Saturday (staff photo by Scott Allison)

The day was capped by Valparaiso’s 82-79 home win against Bowling Green that ended an eight-day period of wonder for the Crusaders. It started last Saturday when they opened league play with an overtime defeat of Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse, but they followed that with a road loss to IPFW on Wednesday.

Winning on Saturday, Valparaiso improved to 7-3 under first-year coach Bryce Drew. Per usual, got scoring from numerous sources, in this case 20 points each from Ryan Broekhoff and Jay Harris (off the bench), 16 points from Kevin Van Wijk and 12 points from Matt Kenney.

I caught up with Drew last week following the team’s afternoon shootaround in preparation for the IPFW game. I wondered how the Crusaders had developed the multiple scoring options with so much of their scoring gone from last season.

“The nice thing is we have a lot of guys capable of scoring double figures,” Drew said. “This year, every game has kind of been a mystery as to who will step up and be that scorer for us.”

Valparaiso is playing with the added emotion of learning before the season that former coach Homer Drew, Bryce’s father who retired after last season, and his Homer Drew’s wife were battling cancer. The Crusaders have since jumped to a nice start to their season, although Bryce Drew said he has tried to keep the emotions of his family situation and the basketball court separate.

“I’ve really separated the two, to be honest,” Bryce Drew said. “My dad came in and talked with the team one time, but other than that we’ve never talked about it. I’ve kept my focus on (the team) during times with them and on family life outside of basketball. I want them to be focused.”

Horizon League vs. MAC, Saturday

Horizon League wins

Cleveland State def. Akron, 69-66

Loyola def. Toledo, 57-55

Wright State def. Miami, 51-49

UIC def. Northern Illinois, 62-55

Valparaiso def. Bowling Green, 82-79

MAC wins

Ball State def. Butler, 58-55

Buffalo def. Youngstown State, 80-72

Top performances

Ben Averkamp, Loyola, 31 points, 7 rebounds

Javon McCrea, Buffalo, 29 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals

A’uston Calhoun, Bowling Green, 25 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals

Jordon Crawford, Bowling Green, 22 points, 5 assists

Jarrod Jones, Ball State, 21 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks

Khyle Marshall, Butler, 21 points, 16 rebounds

Ryan Broekhoff, Valparaiso, 20 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals

Jay Harris, Valparaiso, 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists

Rian Pearson, Toledo, 20 points, 7 rebounds

Mitchell Watt, Buffalo, 20 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks

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Wright State struggles to 51-49 win against Miami in slow offensive game

Final: WSU wins 51-49. Miami’s Julian Mavunga finished the game with 19 points and 15 rebounds, but he missed the second of two free throws with 2.1 seconds left that would have tied the game. Armond Battle rebounded for Wright State and was fouled with 0.5 seconds left, and he made one free throw.

Wright State shot 34.1 percent but forced 21 turnovers as Miami shot 30.2 percent. Cole Darling tied his career high with 13 points for Wright State.

Wright State led by as many as seven points in the game and took the lead for good at 26-25 with 12:25 left. In one stretch late in the game, as Wright State continued to foul, the RedHawks shot free throws on five straight possessions, making 5-of-10.

3:27 second: WSU leads 47-44. The Raiders have been called for fouls on five straight possessions to reach 15 fouls in the half, but Miami is just 5-for-10 on its last five trips to the line without taking advantage. Julius Mays hit a 3-pointer with 4:45 left on a nice pass out from Armond Battle in traffic underneath to give WSU a 47-42 lead, and Miami has chipped away with 2-of-4 free throws since. Julian Mavunga has four fouls for Miami but has 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Cole Darling leads WSU with 12 points.

7:04 second: WSU leads 40-37. The Raiders have led by as many as 7 points, but Miami tied the game 37-37 on a Julian Mavunga free throw with 8:13 left. That gave him 17 points and 12 rebounds. But Armond Battle answered with a 3-pointer for WSU, and Reggie Arceneaux will go to the free throw line out of the official timeout after Mavunga was called for his fourth foul. Cole Darling has reached 10 points for WSU for his second double-diit scoring effort of the season.

11:17 second: WSU leads 35-31. Wright State pushed to its biggest lead at 34-27 on a Reggie Arceneaux 3-pointer with 14:41, but the Raiders have been coughing up the ball at a pace almost unseen this season, with 16 turnovers so far. Not to be outdone with sloppiness, Miami has 20 turnovers and is shooting 30 percent. Miami started the game 4-7 but is 5-23 since. Julian Mavunga has 16 points and 11 rebounds for Miami, and Cole Darling leads WSU with 8 points.

15:44 second: WSU leads 29-25. After playing just 7 minutes in the first half, Cole Darling has scored 8 straight points for Wright State to give the Raiders their biggest lead of the game. He followed a block of a Julius Mays transition layup attempt with a layup and then hit two 3-pointers. Julian Mavunga already has his fourth double-double of the season for Miami, with 14 points and 11 rebounds. WSU is shooting 32.3 percent but has forced 17 turnovers.

Halftime: Miami leads 22-21. Armond Battle missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half as both teams struggled offensively, as Miami shot 7-23 and WSU shot 7-24. A.J. Pacher finished the first half with 7 points and 6 rebounds for WSU, while Julian Mavunga has 12 points (on 3-10 shooting) and 9 rebounds for Miami.

3:24 first: WSU leads 16-15. The Raiders have used an 8-0 scoring advantage to take its first lead, which came on a Reggie Arceneaux 3-pointer with 4:25 left. WSU is shooting 5-20, but Miami has made 1-11 after a 4-7 start. Miami also has 10 turnovers, and both teams are 3-10 from behind the 3-point line. A.J. Pacher has 7 points and 6 rebounds for WSU.

7:15 first: Miami leads 15-11. It’s a slow offensive game, as we thought it would be. A.J. Pacher has 7 points and 5 rebounds for WSU, but he missed two straight shots on the last possession that could’ve cut it closer. WSU is shooting 3-15 but has made two 3-pointers and 3-of-4 free throws. Julian Mavunga has 5 points and 3 rebounds for Miami but has made just 1-4 shots.

9:38 first: Miami leads 13-8. WSU held the RedHawks without a point for five minutes while finally getting started on offense. The Raiders missed their first 6 shots before A.J. Pacher connected on a 3-pointer with 11:15 left, and he followed that on the next possession with a rebound of a Matt Vest miss and layup to get to his eighth point. Pacher has 7 of WSU’s 8 points and 2 rebounds. Will Sullivan leads Miami with 5 points, but the RedHawks have gone cold (5-11 after 4-7 start) and already have seven turnovers.

15:05 first: Miami leads 11-3. Wright State has attempted just one shot in its first seven possessions, a 3-point miss by Matt vest. The Raiders have scored their three points on free throws. Miami has made 4-of-7 shots, including 3-of-5 3-pointers, to get off to a fast scoring start.

3:28 p.m.: Two Wright State starters have changed from the past three games, as Reggie Arceneaux re-enters at point guard and Armond Battle starts. Others are Vance Hall, Julius Mays and A.J. Pacher

PREGAME: Two teams hurting for wins enter today’s game a combined 2-9 in their previous 11 games. Miami hasn’t played since last Saturday, when it lost to Troy 73-60, and Wright State is coming off a 55-34 loss at Air Force on Wednesday. There are interesting personal connections throughout this game — from Miami’s Julian Mavunga and Wright State’s Julius Mays, who faced off in the 2008 Indiana big-school championship game, to Miami’s Bill Edwards Jr., son of Wright State all-time leading scorer and rebounder Bill Edwards. We would expect this to be low scoring with long possessions and good defense. The series is tied 3-3 in the last six meetings.

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Game 10 Preview: Wright State (3-6) at Miami (2-4)

With five losses in its last six games, Wright State travels to Miami for the final road nonconference game of the calendar year, as the Raiders will host four straight at home after today. It comes at at important time for WSU, which is struggling on offense but has played what coach Billy Donlon considers solid defense in the past three games.

The series has been a solid one in the previous few seasons. In the past six meetings, the teams are tied 3-3, and three of those games have been decided by one point. Last year, Wright State topped the RedHawks 66-51. Current Miami senior Julian Mavunga packaged 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists in that game, and of the current Raiders, sophomore forward Cole Darling had the best game, with eight points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals.

WRIGHT STATE (3-6) at MIAMI (2-4)

When: 3:30 p.m.

Where: Millett Hall, Oxford

TV: ONN

Radio: WBZI-FM (100.3), WBZI-AM (1500), WKFI-AM (1090), WEDI-AM (1130)

Online: myclassiccountry.com

The Good

For Wright State, there aren’t many good feelings after a Wednesday night loss to Air Force, 55-34, that included a program record for fewest points scoring in a game. Darling led WSU with seven points, and freshman forward Tavares put together a solid game in limited minutes because of foul trouble. In 18 minutes, Sledge had five points and seven rebounds, and he is averaging 4.0 points and 3.6 rebounds in just 12.2 minutes per game. It stands to reason that if Sledge can stay out of foul trouble and increase his playing time, he can be much more productive. The 18 minutes against Air Force were Sledge’s second-most this season, behind 20 against Kenyon College (20 minutes, 16 points, eight rebounds). As a team, despite the poor offensive performance against Air Force, the defense continued to be solid. WSU allowed 55 or fewer points for the third time this season against the Falcons, and that group includes a close loss against Cleveland State, which beat WSU 45-43.

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Julian Mavunga, a 6-8 senior, leads the RedHawks in scoring (21.5 ppg) and rebounding (9.8) (DDN file photo)

For Miami, the positives start with Julian Mavunga. He is averaging 21.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 50.6 percent from the field, 70.6 percent at the free throw line, 39.5 minutes and 2.3 assists per game. He is the 34th player in Miami history to reach 1,000 career points, and he was an All-Mid-American Conference first team selection last season, when he led the RedHawks in scoring (14.8), rebounding (8.2) and assists (3.0). Miami won its opener against Dayton, 72-67 in overtime, but has won once in the last five games, including three straight losses to Southeast Missouri State, Cincinnati and Troy. Outside of Mavunga, Bill Edwards Jr., son of WSU great Bill Edwards, is the No. 2 scorer, at 7.8 points per game, but his production has fluctuated. Against Troy, 6-5 sophomore Josh Sewell produced 11 points, three rebounds and 4-of-9 shooting. He averages 7.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

The Bad

For Wright State, the offense has continued to struggle. The Raiders have scored 43 or fewer points just 13 times in the program’s history, and three of those instances have come this season. They scored 34 points against Air Force while shooting 19.6 percent and 2-of-19 from 3-point range. WSU leading scorer Julius Mays made 1-of-8 shots and scored six points in 21 minutes, although he did make 4-of-4 free throws. As a team, Wright State has shot less than 40 percent in five of nine games this season, including less than 32 percent three times. The Raiders rank ninth in the Horizon League in scoring, at 55.7 points per game.

For Miami, offense has also been an issue. The RedHawks rank 291st nationally in scoring offense, at 61.2 points per game, and they are 209th in field goal percentage (42.4 percent). Free throw shooting has helped Miami overcome the poor shooting, and the RedHawks make 73.7 percent from the line. Miami has also been poor at holding on to the ball, as it averages 16.3 turnovers per game. Outside of Mavunga, no other Miami player averages in double digits, and only five players overall average more than 3.7 points per game.

Fast Facts

Mavunga’s Brownsburg High School team beat Mays’ Marion High School in the 2008 Indiana Class 4A (big-school) state championship game, 40-39.

Wright State point guard Reggie Arceneaux has come off the bench in the past three games, and he remains the team’s second-leading scorer (8.1 ppg).

The RedHawks attempt 21.2 3-pointers per game, but they are shooting just 32.3 percent from long range.

WSU sophomore guard Vance Hall has started the past three games and played 25, 38 and 31 minutes, useful as a perimeter and team defender.

And finally, here are 10 questions with Harris, the Miami sophomore forward who averages 7.7 points and 3.3 rebounds …

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Raider Connection Q&A: Bill Edwards Jr., Miami sophomore and son of WSU great

Two times, when he left Middletown High School as a standout senior and when he transferred away from Penn State, Wright State basketball fans had dreams of seeing Bill Edwards Jr. in a WSU uniform.

His father, Bill Edwards, is widely considered the best player in WSU history. Playing from 1989-93, he set records that still stand for career scoring (2,303 points) and rebounding (907). Instead, Bill Jr. first chose Penn State and then transferred to Miami University, where is now a sophomore averaging 7.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Heading into Miami’s matchup with Wright State on Saturday, the 6-foot-6 sophomore forward took time to discuss his path to Miami, the anticipation of facing his father’s former school and the place WSU has held in their family.

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Bill Edwards Jr.

Q: How big of a place did WSU hold in your consciousness growing up?

A: As far as going to games, yeah, we went. I know when they retired my dad’s jersey it was a big thing, and we went back to watch the teams plays. Bob Grant (the WSU athletic director) is a great guy, he’s a close family friend. A lot of the alumni and stuff I knew, they call me “Little Billy,” because they see me as a baby growing up and me coming around, I think they’re surprised about how big I got.

Q: Did you feel pressure to play basketball because of what your father has done?

A: Even though my dad was a pro (12 years playing overseas), he never wanted to force basketball on us as kids. His thought was, “If my kids want to play, that’s what they’ll do.” I was really a big football guy, and I really wanted to go to college for football initially. But I think basketball was always my heart, and I did both when I was growing up. It was never forced on us, but it was always around us.

Q: How seriously did you play football?

A: I broke my ankle my sophomore year (at Middletown). I was a backup quarterback to Skylar Jones, who went to Wake Forest, and I dressed varsity as a freshman year and was a backup my sophomore year. When I broke my ankle, I concentrated on basketball. I was hearing from some bigger schools, so I put football down.

Q: When you transferred from Penn State, did you think about going to Wright State?

A: Just my relationship with some of the coaches here (at Miami), it was just right away, I kinda just called and was like … it was all a fast experience. I was just trying to get home to handle some family stuff, and Miami was an option for me, and a good fit. I don’t think I really took all the things into consideration as far as Wright State. Nothing against them or anything like that, it was just a quick decision.

Q: Did you hear from people that you should go to Wright State?

A: Of course. Friends who went to college with my dad, they said, “You should go play at Wright State,” sometimes just joking around. But yeah, I heard it a lot

Q: You sat out last year after transferring and are playing this season. How is it going?

A: As a team and individually, it’s been an up and down season so far. I don’t think we had the start we wanted, and I don’t think I had the start I wanted. I take some of the blame for that. We’re trying to get back on the right track this week, and I know (the Raiders) are too.

Q: What do you think it’s going to be like playing against Wright State?

A: It’s gonna be a fun experience here in Millett. I always wanted to play in the Nutter Center, so I’ll get that opportunity next year, but it’s still playing against Wright State. Coach Billy (Donlon) is a good guy, a young guy, and I know he’s trying to get his team back on track too, so they’ll come ready to play.

Q: Even though you’re at Miami, do you have any stray Wright State clothing on campus or at your dad’s place?

A: All through the house. I have Wright State shorts all over. I have a Wright State green sweatsuit I wore when I first got on campus. I wore it to the library one time, and people said, “You can’t be wearing that around here.” I said, “It’s not because I’m playing for Wright State. It’s because of my dad.”

Q: What’s your dad’s relationship like with Wright State?

A: I think it’s a good relationship between him and Wright State. He gave back to the new facility there, and we went back up for the opening. I know he talks to Bob Grant on the phone, and I know he follows them. When Wright State was playing Ohio State, he called me, and we checked it out. I think it’ll always be a good relationship between Wright State and the family.

Q: You were born while your father was still at Wright State playing, but you were probably too young to remember it.

A: We have a big picture in my house of my dad in warm-ups and me holding a basketball, and I think there are some fans that might be remember us being together like that.

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Horizon League off target on 0-5 night as teams shoot 18.6 percent from long range

Horizon League men’s basketball teams went 0-5 on Wednesday night on a rough night for the league that was made rougher with long-range shooting struggles.

The five HL teams combined to make 16-of-86 3-pointers, or 18.6 percent, as they sunk themselves with poor shooting. The good news for the league is that arguably its two best teams, Cleveland State and Milwaukee, didn’t play Wednesday, so its top is still intact.

Wednesday’s results dimmed the league’s enthusiasm at earning two wins against Big East Conference schools on Monday, when Detroit beat St. John’s and Milwaukee topped DePaul.

All 10 HL teams will play on Saturday, and the five that lost Wednesday night will be hoping for more accurate shooting.

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Roosevelt Jones, Butler (against Xavier) and the Horizon League struggled with outside on an 0-5 league night on Wednesday (Associated Press photo)

Horizon League Wednesday results

No. 8 Xavier defeated Butler, 73-61

No. 16 Wisconsin defeated Green Bay, 70-42

IPFW defeated Valparaiso, 85-76

DePaul defeated Loyola, 69-58

Air Force defeated Wright State, 55-34

Horizon League 3-point shooting Wednesday

Butler: 2-of-21 (9.5 percent)

Wright State: 2-of-19 (10.5 percent)

Green Bay: 2-of-12 (16.7 percent)

Loyola: 2-of-11 (18.2 percent)

Valparaiso: 8-of-23 (34.8 percent)

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Wright State sets program record for fewest points in loss to Air Force

The Wright State men’s basketball team set a program record for fewest points in a game and in a half in its 55-34 loss to Air Force on Wednesday night.

The Raiders (3-6) shot 19.6 percent from the field and 10.5 percent from 3-point range against the Falcons (4-2), who avenged a loss at the Nutter Center last season. Michael Lyons had a game-high 15 points for Air Force, while Cole Darling led Wright State with seven points.

The Raiders entered the game ranked ninth in the Horizon League and 308th nationally in scoring offense, at 58.4 points per game.

Wright State started the game 1-of-12 while allowing a 15-0 Air Force run as the Falcons pushed to an early 18-2 lead. The Raiders stayed cold in the first half, making 5-of-27 (18.5 percent) while Air Force led 27-13 at the break. Vance Hall led WSU in scoring at halftime with three points as six different players scored.

The Raiders’ 13 points in the first half was a program record for fewest points in a half, breaking the mark of 14 set against Northern Iowa on Dec. 4, 1999. That 61-35 loss was the previous record for fewest total points.

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Game 9 Preview: Wright State (3-5) at Air Force (3-2)

After breaking a four-game losing streak against Youngstown State to earn its first Horizon league win on Saturday, Wright State starts a two-game road swing with the trip to Colorado Springs, Colo. The Raiders will return closer to home to play at Miami on Saturday.

This is a series many hope will continue following tonight’s completion of the two-year contract. Wright State defeated Air Force in Fairborn last year, and the school was able to schedule other events and activities around the game because of WSU’s proximity to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Miami Valley’s history with aviation. That’s why many hope Air Force can make a return trip in the near future.

WRIGHT STATE (3-5) at AIR FORCE (3-2)

When: 9 p.m.

Where: Clune Arena, Colorado Springs, Colo.

TV: None

Radio: WBZI-FM (100.3)

Online: myclassiccountry.com

The Good

For Wright State, some wondered how big of a blip it was when junior guard Julius Mays, the team’s top scorer, went 0-for-2 with zero points against Cleveland State last Thursday in a 45-43 loss. Mays responded with a game-high 19 points in WSU’s 63-62 defeat of Youngstown State on Saturday, making 7-of-11 shots and 5-of-5 free throws. One part of Mays’ game that’s particularly impressive is his touch around the basket on drives. Even when starting near the top of the key and going by a defender with enough speed to make it to the rim, Mays can finish soft enough to score. It’s a skill that sophomore forward A.J. Pacher, for instance, has not yet mastered, but Pacher is putting together his own impressive performances this season, including a career-high 16 points and career best-tying seven rebounds in 26 minutes against YSU. Pacher has faced some trouble with steady playing time because of sometimes-foul trouble, but he has almost always effective when playing extended minutes. And, in a continuing line of players who had promising performances against the Penguins, Armond Battle scored 13 points on 3-of-7 shooting (significant because he’s shooting 25.9 percent this season). A promising sign as a team was 3-point shooting against YSU, which was a season-high 45.5 percent as WSU made another season high, 48.9 percent, from the field overall.

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Michael Lyons has been a big bright spot for the Air Force basketball team this season (Associated Press photo)

For Air Force, its positive play starts with Michael Lyons, a 6-6 junior guard from Newport News, Va. He is averaging 19 points, 6 rebounds and 32.8 minutes per game while shooting 51.7 percent from the field. he started 21 games as a freshman and was an All-Mountain West Conference third team pick last season, when he averaged 13.7 points. He has scored 20 or more points three times this season, including 31 points in an overtime loss to Colorado. The Falcons won their first three games against Army, VMI and Western State before losing to Colorado in overtime and to Drake by two points. The Falcons have excelled at generating steals (15th nationally, 9.8 per game) and assisting on baskets (18th nationally, 16.6 assists per game). Mike Fitzgerald, a junior guard/forward, tied his career high with 13 points in the loss against Drake, and he is the only other Falcons player to average in double figures (10.0) after Lyons.

The Bad

For Wright State, struggles start on offense. The Raiders rank 308th nationally (out of 338 teams) in scoring offense, at 58.4 points per game. They are also 295th in shooting percentage (39.3) and 253rd in assists per game (11.4). Their highest output against a Division I opponent this season was 66 points against Charlotte in a 70-66 loss, and they have 52 points or fewer three times. Since scoring 15 points against Florida, junior guard John Balwigaire has cooled on offense, making 3-of-12 shots and scoring 10 points in the past four games, including a zero-shot, six-minute game in the victory against Youngstown State on Saturday.

For Air Force, the Falcons struggle behind the 3-point line, making 28.6 percent from that range this season. They run a Princeton-style offense, so they are strong on cuts to the basket and plays in the post. They also rely heavily on their starters, as just one player off the bench, 6-3 freshman guard Chris Carter, plays more than 13 minutes per game. Kamryn Williams a 6-4 freshman forward, averages 5.6 points off the bench as the only reserve to score that much. Because of that lack of regular depth, the Falcons are susceptible to foul trouble.

Fact Facts

Mays continues to lead WSU in assists (25), steals (12) and minutes (32.1 per game).

Air Force was picked to finish fifth in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll.

Pacher has been effective when shooting the ball, as he leads the Raiders with a 47.3 shooting percentage from the floor, many of those coming closer to the basket this season with more aggressiveness in the post.

Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds has a 55-74 record in his fifth season at the school and 137-108 mark in his ninth season overall as a head coach.

Six Raiders are shooting 75 percent or better from the free throw line: Vance Hall (90), Kendall Griffin (81.8), Armond Battle (78.3), John Balwigaire (77.8), Cole Darling (76.9) and Johann Mpondo (75).

And finally, here’s a video with Air Force basketball highlights from last season …

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Week 4 Horizon League Power Rankings: Valparaiso continuing to impress

Valparaiso scored an overtime road win against Butler on Saturday to continue its steady climb through the rankings, reaching No. 2 behind a near-consensus No. 1, Cleveland State. The Crusaders have no bad losses, some impressive wins and now a 1-0 start in the Horizon League with scoring depth nearly unmatched in the league.

CSU remains No. 1, and Milwaukee and Green Bay also started 2-0 in the league over the weekend, although Milwaukee and Green Bay faced the league’s bottom two teams, UIC and Loyola. Detroit, which is forced to use an eight-man rotation because of injuries and suspensions, is a disappointing 0-2 in the league after the opening week.

DAYTON DAILY NEWS HL POWER RANKINGS

1) Cleveland State (8-1, 2-0): The Vikings stormed to the top of the rankings at the beginning of the season and stay there with close league-opening wins against Wright State (45-43) and Detroit (66-61). The player who many considered the fifth of the five regular starting players in offensive assertiveness, 6-7 junior Tim Kamczyc, led the team in each of those games with 12 points (Jeremy Montgomery also had 12 against Detroit). Not eye-popping numbers, but he was probably as important to his team as any player in the Horizon League last week, as he had 24 points and 12 rebounds on 9-of-14 shooting and 5of-5 free throws in the two games. Consider that those games raised Kamczyc’s scoring average to 7.1 points, and you can see how key those performances were for CSU. Despite how we’ll they’ve played, the Vikings are still adjusting on offense, as they rank seventh in the Horizon League in scoring (63.9 percent). They have the league’s top nonconference win (against Vanderbilt, then No. 7, to open the season), but Vandy, at 5-3, is one of just two winning teams they’ve beaten, so they could use another solid win. That chance comes Thursday, when they travel to 6-2 Robert Morris.

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Coach Bryce Drew and Valparaiso have used significant scoring depth to put together one of the Horizon League’s most impressive starts (Associated Press photo)

2) Valparaiso (6-2, 1-0): I remember coach Bryce Drew before the season claiming concern about his team’s loss of experience to departing players. He must’ve been saying it with a smirk on that side of the phone. The Crusaders beat Butler in overtime on Saturday, 77-71, for a quick start in the league. Richie Edwards led five double-digit scorers with 18 points in 23 minutes, and the 6-7 reserve junior averages 12.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 81 percent from the free throw line off the bench. That underlines Valparaiso’s depth in contributions, starting with Kevin Van Wijk (14.1 ppg) and Ryan Broekhoff (14.1) and continuing with Edwards and Jay Harris. The Crusaders’ two losses have come against Arizona and Ohio State, and they have an interesting game coming up on Dec. 17 when they host Oakland (6-2), one of mid-major’s best teams in the past few seasons.

3) Milwaukee (8-1, 2-0): Before Monday night, the Panthers had started the season with seven wins against Division II Southwest Minnesota State and six Division I teams with a combined record of 8-37, including Loyola and UIC to start 2-0 in the Horizon League. The UIC win, though, came 73-71 in overtime, which raised some eyebrows. Then Milwaukee scored a better win with an 87-76 defeat of DePaul on Monday, and the Panthers have nice chances for stronger impressions with games at Northern Iowa (7-1) and Wisconsin (at home) in their next two. Tony Meier, a 6-8 senior forward who was part of the preseason all-league second team, shook off the rust against Loyola and UIC in his first games back from a calf injury before scoring 20 points on 7-of-7 shooting (5-of-5 from 3-point range) against DePaul. Senior point guard Kaylon Williams has also produced, combining 46 points, 15 rebounds and 17 assists in the three games last week.

4) Butler (4-4, 0-1): The Bulldogs picked up a midweek win against a Division II opponent, Oakland City, before falling to Valparaiso in overtime on Saturday in the league opener. It was the first time since 1998 Valparaiso won at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler has almost exactly alternated wins and losses this season, falling to Evansville (3-3), Louisville (7-0), Indiana (8-0) and Valparaiso (6-2), and the losses to Evansville and Valparaiso have come in overtime. Ronald Nored, already known as an all-around player, scored a career-high 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting against Valparaiso, and more concerning was the lack of production from leading scorer Chrishawn Hopkins (8 points) and second-leading scorer Andrew Smith (3). A major problem for Butler? The Bulldogs rank 258th nationally in shooting percentage (40.6) and 281st in free throw percentage (62.5). Also keep in mind that Nored is the team’s only senior who plays.

5) Youngstown State (5-2, 1-1): The Penguins solidified their most-improved status in the league with a 64-61 victory against Detroit on Thursday before they dropped a 63-62 road matchup with Wright State on Saturday. DuShawn Brooks, a 6-6 senior forward who at times plays more like a guard, was named the league’s player of the week after scoring 24 points against Detroit and 17 against Wright State. YSU will host Division III Fredonia State tonight before a nice nonleague game on Saturday against Buffalo, which blew out Dayton last week, stands 4-2 and won 20 games last season. Relying heavily on their starters, the Penguins are getting 16.1 points per game from sophomore guard Kendrick Perry, which ranks second in the league. But Perry made 2-of-11 shots against Wright State and scored nine points (with the help of 5-of-7 free throws).

6) Detroit (4-6, 0-2): Even the ESPN2 broadcast of Detroit’s 69-63 win against St. John’s on Monday night had to spend some time talking about just how few players the Titans have available. They showed Eli Holman, the preseason all-league first team pick who remains on indefinite leave of absence but sat on the bench in warmups. They showed another big man, Nick Minnerath, on crutches because he is out for the season with a knee injury. But, the win against St. John’s on the night the Titans dedicated “Dick Vitale Court,” named for their former coach, snapped a three-game losing streak that included league-opening losses to Youngstown State and Cleveland State at home. Detroit has the league’s top offense, scoring 74.3 points per game with exciting play from senior guard Chase Simon (16.5 ppg, 1st in the league) and Ray McCallum (14.8, 3rd in the league). But, it also has the league’s worst defense, allowing 70.4 points per game. For the time being, UDM will stick with an eight-man rotation and hope Simon and McCallum and outscore what the defense allows.

7) Green Bay (4-4, 2-0): The Phoenix started 2-0 in the league with home wins against UIC and Loyola while 7-1 sophomore center Alec Brown played like the preseason all-league second team pick he was. Brown combined for 31 points and 15 rebounds in the two games, which helped Green Bay reach 4-0 at home this season, although in part against two HL teams that are a combined 3-11 and Division II University of Mary. However, Green Bay has handed 8-1 Wyoming its only loss, and the Phoenix have the opportunity to make more waves this week with road games against Wisconsin and Marquette. Two reserves, Terry Johnson and Brennan Cougill, rank third (Johnson, 8.3 ppg) and fourth (Cougill, 7.1) on the team in scoring. Both are transfers, Johnson from Illinois State and Cougill from Iowa. Defense is helping Green Bay win, as the Phoenix allow 61 points per game.

8) Wright State (3-5, 1-1): The Raiders are very close to being 2-0 in the league after a 45-43, last-second loss to Cleveland State on Thursday, but they’re just as close to being 0-2 following a 63-62 win against Youngstown State. Guard Julius Mays has the Raiders’ top three scoring performances this season, including 19 points against YSU to reach 11 points per game this season. With improved defense, WSU looked like it could be very competitive in the league, which was a concern for some fans because of the team’s youth. Sophomore forward A.J. Pacher, who has been up and down this season because of foul trouble, scored a career-high 16 points against YSU and added a career best-tying seven rebounds. WSU has two nonleague road games remaining this calendar year before playing four straight at home.

9) UIC (2-5, 0-2): In their past four games, the Flames have beaten Evansville (which defeated Butler this season, still a benchmark in this league), lost to Toledo (which is 6-1) and dropped Horizon League-opening road games to Green Bay (71-68) and Milwaukee (73-71 in overtime). All in all, not a bad stretch. Gary Talton, a junior guard who played at two junior colleges before UIC, combined for 32 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the two games, and he ranks second on the team in scoring (9.7 ppg) behind Darrin Williams (9.9). Here’s something else to consider. The Flames outrebounded both Green Bay (40-35) and Milwaukee (48-36), and they have become the league’s top rebounding team at 41.9 per game. UIC also ranks 30th nationally in rebounding margin (7.7 per game).

10) Loyola (1-6, 0-2): The Ramblers followed their only win of the season against Fordham with road league losses to Milwaukee (59-41) and Green Bay (57-47). Here’s the problem: Loyola just can’t score points. The Ramblers are 331st out of 338 Division I teams in scoring offense, averaging 53.4 points per game. But, they also have two double-digit scoring averages from Ben Averkamp (11.9) and Walt Gibler (11.3). Gibler was strong in last week’s games, combining for 31 points and 12 rebounds on 9-of-15 shooting and 13-of-19 free throws. He has gone from starter as a freshman to league sixth man of the year as a sophomore to injuries limiting his productivity as a junior and playing strong as a senior. With as little as Loyola scores, it’s even more impressive that sophomore guard Denzel Brito is third in the league in assists (5.0).

Week 3 rankings

1) Cleveland State

2) Milwaukee

3) Valparaiso

4) Butler

5) Youngstown State

6) Detroit

7) Green Bay

8) Wright State

9) Loyola

10) UIC

This week’s schedule

Today

Fredonia State at Youngstown State, 7:45 p.m.

Wednesday

Valparaiso at IPFW, 7 p.m.

Green Bay at Wisconsin, 8 p.m.

DePaul at Loyola, 8 p.m.

Xavier at Butler, 9 p.m., ESPN

Wright State at Air Force, 9 p.m.

Thursday

Cleveland State at Robert Morris, 7 p.m.

Western Michigan at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday

Butler at Ball State, 2 p.m.

Akron at Cleveland State, 2 p.m.

Milwaukee at Northern Iowa, 2 p.m.

Loyola at Toledo, 3 p.m.

Wright State at Miami, 3:30 p.m.

Northern Illinois at UIC, 4 p.m.

Youngstown State at Buffalo, 7 p.m.

Bowling Green at Valparaiso, 8:05 p.m.

Green Bay at Marquette, 9 p.m.

Sunday

Detroit at Alabama, 6 p.m., ESPNU

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Wright State’s Week: Men’s basketball plays year’s final nonleague road games

The Wright State men’s basketball team will play its last non-Horizon League road games of the year this week while the WSU women’s basketball team will play a rivalry game against Dayton and then return home after five straight on the road.

Men’s Basketball (3-5): The Raiders will play two road games this week, taking on Air Force (3-2) on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. Eastern time and Miami University (2-4) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in a game broadcast on the Ohio New Network. WSU played two early Horizon League games last week and started 1-1, and they will play their final two nonconference road games this week.

Swimming and Diving: A week after competing in the Miami Invitational in Oxford, the Raiders will travel to Tampa for a dual meet. It’s the last road meet before four straight at home in January.

Women’s Basketball (4-2): The Raiders will play the last of five straight road games when they play at Dayton (4-3) at 7 p.m. Tuesday before returning home to face Southern Illinois (2-4) at 2 p.m. Saturday. WSU started 3-0 before surrounding a win against Buffalo with losses to Missouri and Morehead State.

Women’s Track and Field: The Raiders will participate in their first event of the year on Saturday at the Purple & White Invitational on Saturday. Hurdler Cassandra Lloyd returns for her senior season after being named the Horizon League’s women’s track athlete of the year for both the indoor and outdoor seasons.

WSU, next 7 days

Tuesday

Women’s Basketball: at Dayton, 7 p.m.

Wednesday

Men’s Basketball: at Air Force, 9 p.m.

Saturday

Women’s Track and Field: at Purple and White Invitational, in Columbus

Swimming and Diving: at Tampa, 11 a.m.

Women’s Basketball: host Southern Illinois, 2 p.m.

Men’s Basketball: at Miami, 3:30 p.m.

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Wright State By the Numbers: Last 5 seasons have produced better defense

After the Wright State men’s basketball team held Cleveland State to 45 points in a 45-43 loss on Thursday night, I was curious about how often an opponent had scored that little against the Raiders.

The answer: 20 before Thursday.

The defensive performance against the Vikings was the 21st time an opponent scored 45 points points or fewer. Here’s what else we learned from those performances: 13 of them have come in the past five seasons, during which Billy Donlon has been an assistant coach or head coach. Using principles important to former WSU coach Brad Brownell, Donlon has continued his focus on defense.

Let’s take a look at it chronologically:

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Players like Julius Mays (back) and Armond Battle (right) have helped Wright State start Horizon League play with improved defense (DDN file photo)

WSU opponents, 45 points or fewer

Dec. 1, 2011: Cleveland State, 45-43 loss

Jan. 8, 2011: Loyola, 58-41 win

Dec. 30, 2010: Milwaukee, 68-44 win

Nov. 21, 2010: Southern, 66-43 win

Jan. 28, 2010: UIC, 79-43 win

Jan. 24, 2009: UIC, 57-31 win (school record for fewest points allowed)

Dec. 22, 2008: Murray State, 57-41 win

Dec. 21, 2008: South Florida, 60-43 win

Dec. 17, 2008: Norfolk State, 66-43 win

Dec. 9, 2008: Toledo, 50-35 win

March 4, 2008: Detroit, 60-37 win

Feb. 4, 2008: Presbyterian, 58-42 win

Dec. 8, 2007: Butler, 43-42 win

Nov. 21, 2004: Brown, 67-44 win

Jan. 3, 2004: Butler, 51-39 win

Dec. 16, 2000: High Point, 80-38 win

Jan. 22, 2000: Green Bay, 60-44 win

Dec. 3, 1983: Edinboro, 50-42 win

Dec. 27, 1974: Ohio Northern, 44-37 win

Feb. 2, 1974: Franklin, 46-45 win

Jan. 21, 1974: Cleveland State, 69-45 win

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Battle’s free throw with 1.4 seconds left gives Wright State win over Youngstown State

Final: WSU wins 63-62. Armond Battle shook an offensive slump to score 13 points and make 1-of-2 free throws with 1.4 seconds left as Wright State broke a four-game losing streak and reached 1-1 in the Horizon League. Julius Mays led all scorers with 19 points for WSU.

Wright State took a game-high five-point lead at 62-57 before YSU got two free throws from Kendrick Perry and a rattling-in 3-pointer from Blake Allen with 1:29 left to tie it 62-62. A.J. Pacher, who finished with a career-high 16 points and 7 rebounds, was then called for a charge and his fifth foul with 56.4 seconds left.

Battle guarded YSU’s Blake Allen, who missed a turnaround jumper than Battle rebounded. The ball got to him late in the game, and he drove the left side to force conatct from DuShawn Brooks and sank the free throw.

Damian Eargle caught a three-quarter court pass, turned and lofted a left-handed floated that bounced off the back iron as time expired.

2:47 second: WSU leads 59-57. This lead, gained on Armond Battle’s drive down the baseline with 3:42 left, matches the Raiders’ biggest of the game. Battle, who has been struggling offensively in a big way in the past few games, has 12 points and 6 rebounds, and Julius Mays, a driving force behind the comeback from a 17-point deficit, has 19 points. YSU has made 6-22 shots in this half, struggling to score. DuShawn Brooks has 17 points for YSU.

5:25 second: YSU leads 56-55. The Penguins broke a string of 11 straight missed 3-pointers with a 3 from Blake Allen with 8:25 left that got him to 12 points. The lead has changed 6 times this half, and WSU is back within 1 on a Vance Hall 3-pointer from the left wing (his first points of the game). Julius Mays has 17 points, A.J. Pacher has 13 and Armond Battle has 10 for WSU, which has taken only 10 3s. YSU has 10-25 from long range, including 1-10 this half.

11:58 second: YSU leads 45-44. Wright State took its firts lead since 7-6 at 42-41 on a drive by Julius Mays that gave him 15 points (on 8 straight points for WSU). The lead has since changed on the last three baskets. DuShawn Brooks hit a jumper to bring YSU out of a funk with 13:17 left, and the Penguins are shooting 40.5 percent, including 1-12 from 3 after a torrid start.

15:10 second: YSU leads 41-38. The Penguins lead was once 17 points on 8-10 3s. Since, they have made 1-9 3s and Wright State’s Julius Mays has gotten going, scoring on a pair of nice drives to the basket this half to reach a team-high 11 points. DuShawn Brooks has 13 points for YSU, which is 1-7 this half from the field.

Halftime: YSU leads 38-32. After starting the game by making 8-10 3-pointers, Youngstown State finished the half 9-15 from long range and shooting 52 percent. Wright State trailed by as many as 17 before coming back with the help of Armond Battle attacking ( 8 points, 5 on free throws) and better defense.

3:52 first: YSU leads 34-24. After stopping its streak of 7 straight shots made, the Penguins have alowed down, but are still making 60 percent in the game and 8-12 from 3-point range. WSU went on its own 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 8 points, and the teams have traded free throws to set the current margin. A.J. Pacher has 7 points for the Raiders, who have made 3-6 from 3-point range and 5-6 from the free throw line.

6:26 first: YSU leads 30-15. The Penguins love the Nutter Center. They have made 8-11 3-pointers and 11-17 shots, including a streak of 7 shots made ended by an Alex Chojnacki miss from the top of the key. WSU is shooting 37.5 percent, but it can’t keep up with the avalanche of 3s. DuShawn Brooks has 13 points for YSU (3-3 from 3).

11:55 first: YSU leads 13-10. DuShawn Brooks, the senior who at 6-6 plays like a guard, has 10 points for the Penguins on 4-of-5 shooting and 2-2 3-pointers. YSU already outrebounding WSU 9-3 with strong athleticism at its inside positions. Wright State has made 4-10 shots, and Matt Vest and Reggie Arceneaux both have 3 points.

15:09 first: WSU leads 7-6. YSU has made 2 3-pointers, which it does well, and the Raiders are going inside as they did against Cleveland State, with baskets in the paint from A.J. Pacher and Tavares Sledge and a nice drive by Matt Vest that resulted in a foul and 1-of-2 free throws.

2:55 p.m.: Wright State uses the same starters as Thursday’s game against Cleveland State: Vance Hall, Julius Mays, Matt Vest, Cole Darling and A.J. Pacher.

PREGAME: Wright State has lost four straight entering today’s game against Youngstown State, which has started 1-0 in the conference and is looking for its first 6-1 start since 1994-95. The Raiders are hoping to avoid an 0-2 start in the early Horizon League before a nearly four-week break until the next league game. YSU relies heavily on its five starters, while the Raiders are still trying to figure out their regular go-to players.

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Game 8 Preview: Youngstown State (5-1, 1-0) at Wright State (2-5, 0-2)

In the second game of a two-game Horizon League opening week, Wright State will host Youngstown State. The Raiders dropped a home game against Cleveland State 45-43 on Thursday, and the Vikings were considered the hottest team in the league entering that game. Now YSU will come to the Nutter Center also playing solid basketball, scoring a road win against Detroit on Thursday to improve to 5-1. That’s a solid jump for the Penguins, who won nine games last season.

The difference this year is stability, as YSU avoided the roster turnover that plagued it in recent seasons. The Penguins have not been very deep, but they have very talented guard play and a good post defensive presence in junior forward Damian Eargle. That’s a solid start.

YOUNGSTOWN STATE (5-1, 1-0) at WRIGHT STATE (2-5, 0-1)

When: 3 p.m.

Where: Nutter Center

TV: None

Radio: WBZI-FM (100.3), WBZI-AM (1500), WKFI-AM (1090), WEDI-AM (1130)

Online

Radio: myclassiccountry.com

Steam: Horizon League Network

The Good

For Wright State, defensive improvement is high on the list. The Raiders held CSU to 45 points, just the 21st time in team history that an opponent has scored 45 or fewer against WSU. The bad part for the Raiders is they had been 20-0 in such games before CSU’s D’Aundray Brown tipped in a Jeremy Montgomery miss with 0.3 seconds left on Thursday. The return of sophomore guard Matt Vest to the starting lineup has to be a good sign for WSU, as he missed the first five games with a sprained left ankle and returned to play just four minutes against Charlotte last Saturday before starting against CSU. He contributed seven points, three rebounds and two assists. The Raiders also shot better against the Vikings, despite the low score. After entering the game 311th in the country in shooting percentage, they made 41 percent (16-of-39) while forcing 16 turnovers. Cleveland State had been known as a suffocating defensive team that forced turnovers in bunches, but WSU held on well, suffering just 11.

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Youngstown State senior DuShawn Brooks (left) is one of the team’s five stalwart starters who all play at least 31 minutes per game (Associated Press photo)

For Youngstown State, the Penguins are off to their best start in 11 years, fueled by a skilled set of starters that unlike past YSU teams has stayed together as a group. Coach Jerry Slocum relies heavily on those starters, who all play at least 31 minutes per game: Sophomore guard Kendrick Perry (17.3 points per game), junior guard Blake Allen (12.7), senior guard Ashen Ward (10.7), junior forward Damian Eargle (10.7) and senior forward DuShawn Brooks (8.8). YSU has been the conference’s best 3-point shooting team (39.1 percent) and rank first in blocks (6.3 per game), so it uses a mix of defensive presence and offensive skill to get past close games. The Penguins have earned their victories against Division I opponents by 7, 4 (in overtime), 1 and 3 points. They lost only to Penn State, 82-71. Perry is second in the league in scoring, and Allen is ninth, while Brooks opened league play with 24 points against Detroit.

The Bad

For Wright State, the Raiders continue to struggle to find a consistent scorer. Junior guard Julius Mays, who remains the team’s leading scorer at 9.9 points per game, went scoreless against Cleveland State on 0-for-2 shooting. He leads WSU in assists and steals, so he can help in other ways outside of scoring, but his scoring range now stretches from zero to 25 points. It was also clear against CSU just how close sophomore forward Cole Darling can be to re-injuring the left shoulder he dislocated in early-season practices. He fell to the floor in that came before slowly walking off making fists with his left hand. He re-entered the game, but it was an unsettling moment for Raiders fans. The Raiders rank ninth in the Horizon League at 57.7 points per game, and they are last in shooting percentage (38.0).

For Youngstown State, the heavy reliance could be trouble if any of them suffer injury or have bad games. Like WSU, Youngstown State is a poor shooting team, ranking ninth in the league at 38.3 percent, and as well as they shoot 3-pointers, the Penguins make just 65.5 percent from the free throw line. Although it has done well in blocking shots, YSU is not very big, with Eargle as its tallest starter at 6-7. Detroit, for instance, scored 30 points in the paint on Thursday and outrebounded the Penguins 42-35, but they have so far compensated with strong outside shooting.

Fast Facts

Three YSU players have scored 20 points in a game this season, Perry, Allen and Brooks.

WSU sophomore guard Vance Hall made 4-for-4 free throws on Thursday and has now made 9-of-9 this season.

Youngstown State hasn’t started 6-1 since 1994-95.

Darling leads WSU with 4.0 rebounds per game, followed by A.J. Pacher (3.9) and Tavares Sledge (3.6).

The Penguins average 9.0 3-pointers per game, which ranks 21st nationally. The Raiders have already played the team that ranks No. 1, Florida at 11.6 made 3s per game.

The Raiders have lost four straight. They haven’t lost five straight since beginning the 2008-09 season 0-6.

And finally, here’s YSU coach Jerry Slocum previewing games against Detroit and Wright State earlier this week …

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Sophomore guard Vest will continue to help Wright State in return

Matt Vest missed Wright State’s first five games this season with a sprained ankle. But, let’s talked about how he sprained it.

Against Central State in an exhibition game, Vest went in hard for a rebound. Like, very hard. And Vest can jump very high, so when he goes into a crowd with passion, he has a long way to come down.

Matt Vest.jpg
Matt Vest

Vest landed and sprained his left ankle bad enough that he didn’t even dress for the Raiders’ first five games. He tried to play against Charlotte last Saturday, but WSU coach Billy Donlon removed him after four minutes, saying he just didn’t like what he saw from Vest. He just didn’t look comfortable yet.

Then Thursday’s Horizon League opener against Cleveland State arrived. In an important game against the league’s best team in the early season, Vest was in the starting lineup, played 22 minutes, hit 3-of-4 shots, scored seven points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out two assists. WSU lost 45-43 on a last-second tip-in.

It was a solid return, and it could signal that — like Cole Darling, another sophomore who missed the first two games with a dislocated left shoulder — Vest might be ready to be an all-around provider that the Raiders need with their massive inexperience.

“I felt fine,” Vest said. “Obviously I’m a little bit out of shape, but it was definitely not about one guy tonight. It stings, but I’m proud of how my teammates worked all night.”

Vest scored his first points of the season just 1:55 into the game on a pump-fake, pause and layup. He scored two straight baskets late int he first on another pump-fake layup and a jumper from the left side.

He was part of a play that hurt WSU with 27.1 seconds left, when an offensive miscue near halfcourt sent the ball over the line, and when Vest picked it up, the Raiders were called for an over-and-back. It was a tie game, and WSU had been looking to run the clock far down before taking a potentially game-winning shot.

Instead, CSU took possession and won the game with 0.3 seconds left when D’Aundray Brown tipped in a Jeremy Montgomery miss.

Vest is a unique player for WSU, because his father is in the school’s athletic hall of fame as a high-scoring basketball player, and he grew up dreaming of playing for Wright State. Not many have.

Donlon discussed that afterward.

“There’s nobody in the program who has been here longer than two years, so they don’t really know how significant … what Wright State means,” Donlon said. “They don’t really know. They don’t really know what’s gone on here. And I’m not just talking about since Brad, coach Brownell was the coach.

“I’m talking about … when you talk about the build-up of a program, in the ’70s, Division II national championship in the early ’80s, become Division I, build an 11,000-seat arena in the early ’90s, all the blood, sweat and tears that people put in, and obviously Matt’s father is a significant part of that.

“It takes one guy like him to pass that message on to the other guys, because that’s the one issue with our youthfulness that we have. There isn’t enough blood, sweat and tears in that locker room yet to understand. But Matt fully understands because he grew up in it with his father.”

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Late tip-in gives Cleveland State 45-43 victory against Wright State

Final: CSU wins 45-43. Cleveland State’s D’Aundray Brown tipped in a Jeremy Montgomery miss with what was determined to be 0.3 seconds left, and Wright State drops its Horizon League opener. A.J. Pacher scored 9 points for WSU, and Tim Kamczyc led CSU with 12 points.

2:27 second: CSU leads 41-40. The game continues to be slow and methodical, but it has picked up with the teams trading the leads in the last few possessions. A.J. Pacher has pushed to the Raiders scoring lead at 9 points. CSU is shooting 40 percent, and Wright State is shooting 41 percent.

7:39 second: WSU leads 34-31. This is the Raiders’ biggest lead of the game, helped by 7 points from Matt Vest in his first significant playing time of the season. WSU leading scorer Julius Mays has 0 points and has taken just 2 shots, but he has helped defend CSU’s scoring guards, and Trey Harmon and Jeremy Montgomery have combined for 10 points. Tim Kamczyc leads CSU, which is shooting 37.9 percent, with 8 points.

11:45 second: Tied 31-31. Wright got was sparked by a nice play from Tavares Sledge with 15:14 left, when the freshman missed a shot, went to the other side of the basket for the rebound and went back up to score. Two Vance Hall free throws — he has made 7-7 this season — tied the game with 12:58 left as the Raiders have continued to play good defense and protect the ball, which is frustrating CSU.

15:48 second: CSU leads 28-25. WSU’s A.J. Pacher came out firing, scoring both Raiders baskets this half, he has 6 points but only 1 rebound. CSU got three offensive rebounds and the third foul on Pacher on one possession before Jeremy Montgomery hit a 3-pointer to get back the lead with 16:49 left. Tim Kamczyc got CSU’s last basket on a quick transition and leads the team with 8 points.

Halftime: Tied 21-21. Wright State scored the half’s last 5 points on an inside basket from Matt Vest and a 3-pointer from Cole Darling, but Julius Mays missed two free throws with 1.6 seconds left in the half that could’ve given Wright State the lead. Vest leads Wright State with 6 points, and the Raiders have shot 40.9 percent to 36.8 percent for Cleveland State.

It has been a slow, methodic game, which is not Cleveland State’s strength. The Vikings are best when they can force turnovers and convert them into baskets, but WSU has 6 turnovers and has forced 9 of its own.

2:39 first: CSU leads 21-18. WSU is playing solid defense and held CSU to 7:08 without a point and 8:58 without a field goal, and CSU’s Tim Kamczyc has a game-high 6 points. WSU is shooting 42.1 percent, while WSU is 1-9 in its last 9 shots.

7:54 first: CSU leads 16-12. CSU hasn’t scored a point in more than 4 minutes, but Wright State hasn’t been much more prolific on offense, shooting 33.3 percent. CSU has made just 2-8 3-pointers, and Aaron Pogue has just one shot attempt on the inside, a good sign a WSU. Even better, Tavares Sledge and A.J. Pacher each have just one foul.

11:13 first: CSU leads 16-10. CSU has made 6-10 shots to push ahead with points from five players. Wright State has made 1 for its last 5, but Vance Hall scored on a nice fake, cut, pass catch and layup on the Wright State to set the current margin. WSU has also forced 5 turnovers, while suffering 3 against Cleveland State’s stout defense.

15:42 first: CSU leads 7-6. Wright State has all 6 of its points on inside baskets as the Raiders are working to keep the ball passed down inside. CSU is applying pressure to the ballhandlers, and WSU has a turnover on a D’Aundray Brown steal and basket. Both teams have made 3-5 shots, and a Tim Kamczyc 3-pointer is the deciding points so far.

6:55 p.m.: Wright State will start Matt Vest in his second game back from a sprained ankle. Also starting will be Vance Hall and Julius Mays at guard and forwards Cole Darling and A.J. Pacher.

PREGAME: On the first night of Horizon League play (required because HL teams play in February’s BracketBusters event), Wright State draws the hottest team in the league while on a three-game losing streak. The Raiders have let one bad defensive half help decide the past three games while junior guard Julius Mays has hit a hot streak, scoring 21, 15 and 25 points in the past three games. Cleveland State is led in scoring by senior guard D’Aundray Brown, who returned to the starting lineup after missing last season with an injured finger.

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Game 7 Preview: Cleveland State (6-1) at Wright State (2-4)

Because Horizon League teams take part in the February BracketBusters event, they open league play with a week of play in December. Wright State gets its first two games at home, against Cleveland State today and Youngstown State on Saturday, but CSU is playing the best basketball in the league, and YSU is widely considered the most improved team in the league this year.

CSU enters after winning three of four games last week, including playing three games in three days with wins against Boston University and Rhode Island and a loss against Hofstra. The Raiders have lost four straight against Cleveland State, including three last season.

CLEVELAND STATE (6-1) at WRIGHT STATE (2-4)

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Nutter Center

TV: None

Radio: WBZI-FM (100.3)

Online

Audio: myclassiccountry.com

Stream: Horizon League Network

The Good

For Wright State, the Raiders seem to have an answer about where their main scoring will come from. Julius Mays, the junior guard from Marion, Ind., who transferred to WSU from North Carolina State, has scored 21, 15 and 25 points in the past three games to reach the team scoring lead, at 11.5 points per game. But not only has Mays scored, he has contributed throughout the stat sheet. Mixing drives, 3-point shots and defense, Mays also has the team lead in assists (20), steals (11) and minutes (31.7) while shooting 41.8 percent. Cole Darling, a 6-8 sophomore forward, has played in just four games this year because of a dislocated left shoulder suffered early in October practices, but he has scored in double figures in two of those games and also played well all round. Statistically, WSU has done well in its turnover margin, a strong point for the program in recent seasons. The Raiders have forced 104 turnovers while committing 86. If one goes by production based on amount of playing time, fans have to feel good about 6-9 freshman Tavares Sledge, who plays 12.8 minutes per game (largely because of foul trouble) but averages 4.5 points and 3.7 rebounds.

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Senior guard D’Aundray Brown has led Cleveland State in scoring and rebounding after missing all of last season (Associated Press photo)

For Cleveland State, there’s plenty to feel good about. The Vikings have beaten then-No. 7 Vanderbilt, Kent State and Rhode Island, which all have been solid programs in the past few seasons. D’Aundray Brown, a senior guard who missed last season with a finger injury, has returned to lead the Vikings in scoring (14.9), rebounds (5.3), steals (3.7) and free throw shooting (75 percent). He has fit into a mix that includes four returning starters from last season, as the only loss was Horizon League Player of the Year Norris Cole. The starters each play at least 25 minutes per game with Brown and Trevon Harmon (preseason all-league first teamer), who averages 10.6 points per game. CSU is also solid on defense, ranking 31st nationally in scoring defense (57.4 points per game), 4th in 3-point shooting defense (21.8 percent), and 6th each in steals per game (11.0) and turnover margin (7.7). Put together, the Vikings are an experienced group that plays defense well and scores enough to win. Plus, if the Vikings can get more performances from 6-9 center Aaron Pogue like the one he produced Sunday against Rhode Island (career-high 20 points), they’ll be a tough team to beat based on how well their guards play.

The Bad

For Wright State, it starts with three straight losses, all of which include one half during which the opponent scored at least 40 points. For a team that has trouble scoring (ranks 311th nationally in shooting percentage), that’s bad news. The only player who has started every game, junior forward Armond Battle, is shooting 23.9 percent this season, including 16.7 percent from 3-point range (3-of-18). As a team, 3-point shooting is important for WSU, and the Raiders have made 33.9 percent this season. But, keep an eye on how that long-range shooting develops in the second half, as WSU has made just 26.2 percent (16-of-61) after halftime. Another serious concern is post foul trouble, as Sledge, A.J. Pacher and Johann Mpondo have struggled to play consistent minutes because of foul calls.

For Cleveland State, as well as the Vikings have played, they have their own foul trouble, as they average 22.4 fouls per game (ranking 310th nationally). They also haven’t totally clicked on offense, averaging 66.3 points per game, while returning starter Jeremy Montgomery has averaged 9.0 points on 30.4 percent shooting and 25 percent from 3-point range. Strong defensive play has compensated for the offensive shortcomings, and CSU has at least one big comeback against Boston University, but it will be interesting to see how it handles trailing situations moving forward. There also isn’t a large amount of depth so far this season, with just one player outside of the starters playing at least 15 minutes per game, but that’s partly because those starters are so experienced.

Fast Facts

The Vikings also got off to a great start last season, beginning 12-0 before losing to West Virginia, and they eventually finished in a three-way tie for first place in the Horizon League.

WSU sophomore Matt Vest is expected to play much more this week after compiling just four minutes against Charlotte in his season debut last Saturday.

CSU has received 11 points in this week’s Associated Press poll.

WSU junior John Balwigaire continues to lead the Raiders in shooting, making 47.1 percent of his shots and 50 percent from 3-point range.

Pogue was named MVP of the Ticket City Legends Classic subregional in Kingston, R.I., last week after averaging 10.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in the three games.

Eight different WSU players have started this season, including six with at least three starters.

And finally, here’s Cleveland State coach Gary Waters talking about starting Horizon League play this week …

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