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It's five minutes until gametime and the crowd looks a little light.
Miami starters: Quinten Rollins, Julian Mavunga, Brian Sullivan, Jon Harris and Adam Thomas.
Akron starters: Brian Walsh, Alex Abreu, Nik Cvetinovic, Chauncey Gilliam and Zeke Marshall.
I enjoyed having a pre-game beverage with some of the guys on ZipsNation.org and George Thomas. We had some good Zips discussions. By the way, if you're not visiting ZN.org on the reg, you're probably not a real fan. Just saying.
The Zips are nine-point favorites. Give me Akron and you take the points.
Pregame - Akron 0, Miami 0
Kent State held off Buffalo last night. It was a great game. I hope you saw it. Akron now leads the conference by two games.
The AK-Rowdies get a gold star for fooling Mavunga into thinking the shot clock was nearing zero. He chucked a wild 3-pointer, a brick.
One ref missed a slap on Sullivan's wrist. The other ref blew a make-up traveling call on Gilliam after the ball bounced away. It's justice, I suppose.
Mavunga has hoisted two 3-pointers. They were both ugly. But neither came close to the Shawn Marion-esque 3 attempt from Nick Harney. Ew. Work on that during the offseason and maybe, maybe we'll let you do it in 2013.
10:52 - Akron 17, Miami 13
The Kent-Buffalo game had a disappointing crowd. Shots of the stands showed a lot of empty seats.
The teams are both shooting very well -- a combined 14-for-21 and 7-of-11 on 3s.
Harney got the so-so crowd excited with a tip-dunk.
Sullivan just swished his fourth 3-pointer. He's 4-of-5 tonight from behind the arc. Harris is 2-for-2 on 3s.
The ref called a timeout as Abreu came up limping. I didn't see the play.
6:32 - Akron 24, Miami 26
If it weren't for Marshall, perhaps we would be talking more about the shot-blocking of Demetrius Treadwell. He is an explosive jumper with good timing. On a recent play, he volleyball-spiked a layup to the backboard. I'm surprised the ball didn't pop.
How quiet is this crowd? I've heard some play-by-play from Steve French.
Quincy Diggs made a spectacular behind-the-back dribble on a fast break. He converted the layup.
Abreu is back on the floor. It must not have been serious.
Sullivan hit No. 5, a deep 3 with Abreu charging. Charlie Coles should give him the green light if he hasn't already.
Akron is having trouble getting the ball into Marshall, who is being doubled when the entry pass is released.
Mavunga is limping too. Elton Alexander says Mavunga has suffered from plantar fasciatis. I've had that, and it's a real annoying ailment. Every step hurts like the dickins.
Halftime - Akron 33, Miami 33
Notable halftime stats: Sullivan has 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting on 3s. Gilliam has 10 for Akron. Treadwell has a quiet nine points and four rebounds (as well as the game's only block). Abreu has three assists. Akron is shooting 59.1 percent; Miami is 52.4 percent. Akron has seven assists to five turnovers; Miami has eight and six.
In other MACtion, Ohio and Bowling Green are close in Athens.
The second-half spurt is officially Akron's identity, now that Keith Dambrot has made up a term to describe it: "spurtability."
Marshall converted an easy dunk to give the Zips a 5-0 run. MU's Thomas was standing under the hoop and the dunked basketball bounced off of his noggin.
Coles has been sitting in his chair all game, waiving his arm in the air from time to time in frustration.
Walsh converted an impressive non-dunk alley-oop from a half-court pass by Cvetinovic. It has been a 13-2 run to start the half.
15:42 - Akron 44, Miami 35
I'm giving up. The Internet simply won't work tonight. Not on George Thomas's mobile hotspot. Not from the City of Akron. Not from the University. Not even from SID Dallas Moyer's personal UA account. I'll post this stuff after the game.
Don't take this the wrong way, fans. (I'm sure some of you still will.) But Harney reminds me of Kobe Bryant -- minus the jumpshot. The jumper is what makes Bryant so lethal, so it's not that great of praise for Harney. Still, the players share the sneaky quick athleticism and silky touch with the basketball.
Mavunga has not been a force tonight. He has only seven points and five rebounds. He does have a game-high six assists. I similarly feel like a non-factor without my Internet connection. Who wants to read this crap after the fact?
Cvetinovic is consistently getting groans when he goes up for a 3 attempt. He's 0-for-3 on 3s tonight.
3:23 - Akron 61, Miami 51
Cvetinovic swooped in from the wing on a fast break to dunk. With two minutes left and a 12-point lead, that is likely the clinching basket.
Ohio and BG are coming down to the wire. We are watching the game on the iPad of Ricky Stokes of the MAC.
Abreu took offense to a foul by Rollins. The Zips guard threw a short little elbow in Rollins' direction. Somehow, out of this, Rollins got the technical foul. Coles then absolutely lost it. The RedHawks' coach got a good 20 seconds of chewing out the ref -- and he miraculously avoided a tech.
Before this skirmish, Coles and Diggs appeared to be jawing at each other. Then Diggs walked over to Coles and gave him a hug.
Final score - Akron 74, Miami 59
Notable final stats: Sullivan was the leading scorer with 19, but only had two in the second half. Treadwell scored 13 and had eight boards. Mavunga finished with 11 points, six rebounds and six assists. Akron shot 51 percent; Miami was 41.7 percent. The RedHawks made 11-of-12 free throws.
That was a dull game. Miami simply needs more playmakers to be effective. With Mavunga hobbled, they really don't have any weapons. Even with one jumpshooter getting fiery hot, they were only staying even with the Zips.
Ohio pulled away from Bowling Green. That's a big game for positioning in the third and fourth seed race.
"I thought Miami played really well early. Our concern for Mavunga gave them some opportunities that hurt us. (In the second half) We played straight up. We were going to make Mavunga beat us. Cvetinovic did a nice job on him. Then Treadwell and Zeke. We did a better job guarding them at the 3 line in the second half. It's a catch-22 with them. We have been a good defensive 3-point team, but most of that's been because we haven't had to double inside."
"They're good. Don't be mistaken. They've been snake-bit. They could be very easily towards the top of the league."
On Cvetinovic: "I've been hard on him in getting back to what he's really good at -- being a junk-yard dog. He's Dennis Rodman. When he does that, he's one of the best players in the league. I thought he was back to the old Nik tonight. He has to become what he used to be. I thought that was one of Harney's best defensive games."
"I told them after the game, I thought for us to take the next step, we have to be more sound defensively. If we can toughen up defensively, we can play with anyone in the nation. I've tried to emphasize to the guys -- having fun. We're one of those teams that every game is important. We have to enjoy that. I have to enjoy that, too. The last three games will be easy to motivate them, and the MAC Tournament, it will be easy to motivate them, but we have to get there."
"If we do get one of those top two seeds, I don't like sitting there. I don't know what the hell I'm going to do for six or seven days. That's the part I don't like, but there's nothing I can do about it."
Regarding Diggs, Harney, Treadwell, Gilliam and Marshall: "If they're getting better and better and better, then our team is going to get better and better and better."
"We probably don't have the best five in the league, but we have a good nine. We have to keep trying to make our team look like the old teams, without hurting the individuality. Like Alex threw the one ball away today. Rather than getting on him, I had to sit back and say, 'That's OK.'"
"We call it the little prize and the big prize. The little prize is winning the regular season. We've never won the little prize. We've won the big prize twice. We want to be VCU, George Mason, Butler. Do we have enough to win the biggest prize? With Zeke Marshall we have a chance. When you're 6-7, you have no chance. We have to get him playing at a high level."
"Will we win it all? I don't know. We could have a few bad moments and it's gone in a poof of smoke. But I've got to say I'm impressed with what they've done. The one thing that our group can do is take a punch."
"Charlie and I got a lot in common. We're the Central Michigan rejects. No disrespect to Central. I love Charlie. He cares about the kids. He's had some really good teams. He's overscheduled for years. You look at the record and you don't think they're as good as they are. I can't say enough great things about Charlie. I recruited his son. I hate to see him get so aggravated. I worry about him. Think about the guts and determination to come back from the two things that he did. He's a real tribute to the sport really."
"I seen some openings and I took them. Some of the plays we ran today fit my style of play."
On Mavunga: "In the first half, we totally eliminated him from the game with the double-team. But Brian Sullivan got off. We just kept throwing fresh bodies on him after that."
On Miami's pace: "This game was a little more boring than a Kent game or Buffalo."
"We're definitely still rising. We haven't reached our peak. We still have some lapses on the defensive end."
On the BracketBuster: "We're looking at it as a great opportunity to get the automatic bid."
"We had some issues to start the season, with players missing game. At the beginning of the season, we weren't playing the way we should have been playing. Everybody getting in the right mindset in cutting out the off-the-court stuff has got us pressing forward."
On guarding Sullivan in the second half: "Coach told me at the half to guard him. I took the challenge to guard him."
"Coach told us after the game that we can take another jump and compete with anyone in the country."
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