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The winner of this game will face Western Michigan at 7 p.m. tomorrow. The Broncos held off Bowling Green, 67-56, earlier today.
During the second half of that game, I got a tour of the Cavaliers front offices at The Q. I'm very impressed. Dan Gilbert spares no expense to make his employees comfortable. Shout out to my buddy Chris Muhlberg for showing me around. He also brought me a George Washington bobblehead. ... I just have to decide whether to put that on my city council desk or my law firm desk.
Expected starters ... Miami: Quinten Rollins, Allen Roberts, Orlando Williams, Julian Mavunga, and Nick Winbush. Akron: Steve McNees, Brett McClanahan, Darryl Roberts, Nikola Cvetinovic and Zeke Marshall.
I ran into Keith Dambrot and Rick McFadden on my way here. Everyone seems to be loose and in good spirits. Most fans I have spoken with also feel optimistic. The concerns following last week's games have probably faded.
While you're at the office, don't ONLY visit my blog. You have the Twitter feed from MAC media director, Jeremy Guy, and the official MAC liveblog. And if you're not on Twitter yet ... it's time. Nobody's bragging about being the last person to have a cell phone.
If McNees does, in fact, start -- or even play -- he will break the Akron record for games played.
Mavunga vs. Cvetinovic will be the game's key matchup, as we saw in the teams' prior meetings. Mavunga has an edge in the paint, but Cvetinovic is better equipped on the perimeter and mid-range part of the floor.
The other key is keeping a hand in the faces of Miami's shooters. Rotations have to be crisp, particularly when the Zips go to the zone, which I almost guarantee you'll see.
If you're in the office (and have an office of your own), you might be tempted to watch this game on ESPN3.com. But that's the last advertisement I'm giving for another medium.
The Zips won the tip and didn't score from a McNees 3 and Marshall turn-around jumper attempt. Cvetinovic got a close bucket on the next trip.
The crowd is pretty good on Akron's side, considering people are playing hookie from work. Miami has a pocket of fans, but Zips fans outnumber them probably by a 3-to-1 margin.
Tom Gaffney covered the women's game yesterday. He said the Zips were right there with No. 1 Toledo, but they had some bad calls against them and wound up in foul trouble. Gaffney, by the way, showed up right at tipoff. Usually, that's my trick.
I don't have the stats on this, but Akron should have the most games of MAC Tournament experience, with the program having been to the MAC Championship for the past four seasons. The MAC record is five-straight appearances (Miami).
Quincy Diggs charged into a flock of RedHawks in the paint. Without a specific plan of how to get to the rim, he wound up losing the ball and getting called for an offensive foul. Brett McKnight looked at him, held up his hands, and said, "Slow it down."
The expected snowfall is going to make for an interesting Thursday night/Friday for fans and members of the media. The teams (including Akron), of course, are staying downtown at the Renaissance Hotel.
Marshall got his first block on Rollins in the deep post. With Marshall drawn out of the post, Rollins scored on the next trip down.
Both teams are playing good defense. The Zips are rotating with great swiftness, and the only open 3 Miami has shot was from Mavunga.
The referees have stopped play to review the video. Now that the delay has lasted a few minutes, Akron fans are beginning to boo. If this is a shot clock issue, this delay is unacceptable. ... It was. They took 11 seconds off the clock, and delayed the game five minutes to do so. You'll never guess who the replay referee is ... Bo Boroski!
Below is a shot of the fans I took from behind my post on media row. Can you find yourself?
Mike Bardo just missed two chip shots from within two feet. Fans cringed. Miami responded with its first basket in months.
A few Akron fans are chanting "single digits," noting Miami's point total. It doesn't help when you're 0-for-6 on 3-pointers.
McClanahan spashed a 3 to extend Akron's lead to 10.
Marshall picked up his second foul on a Mavunga drive. Keith Dambrot complained about the call, but it was fair. Marshall's presence keeps the Miami guards out of the paint, but the 7-footer will likely spend the remaining four minutes of the first half on the bench.
Miami is shooting 4-for-20 today (20 percent). I just had a fan ask to see the box score to confirm that. Yes, it's true.
The fewest points Akron has held a team to in a half is 18. Until today. (And no, I'm not counting Miliken's nine-point output.)
I legitimately thought Miami would start penetrating and scoring once Marshall took a seat. Rather, they are even more helpless.
If you count the second half of the last Akron-Miami game, the Zips are leading by 28. Unfortunately, mix-matching halves is not within the rules of basketball.
Roberts gathered an offensive rebound off a missed foul shot, and drained a jumper while being fouled. The and-one extended the Zips' lead to 16.
Miami looks nervous and disjointed on offense. The poor shooting has definitely gotten to the RedHawks, mentally.
Since Boroski stopped the clock for five minutes, Akron went on a 15-4 run.
I just witnessed a hilarious back-and-forth between a Michigan fan and an Ohio State fan. It ended with a stalemate. Both fans said the other team sucks and gave each other the "thumbs down." It's not a great time to be a fan of either football program. If you didn't see it, the ABJ's Jason Lloyd lit up Jim Tressel in a column yesterday.
Halftime - Akron 26, Miami 10
Notable halftime stats: MIAMI MADE ONLY FOUR OF ITS TWENTY-TWO SHOT ATTEMPTS (18.2 percent) AND NONE OF ITS SEVEN 3-POINT ATTEMPTS (0 percent).
Nothing else should be in the same paragraph as that stat. Akron is winning on the boards, 23 to 15, and with points in the paint, 14 to six. The Zips are shooting 33.3 percent and are 2-of-7 on 3s, which is not good, but pales in comparison to the RedHawks' half. Cvetinovic has a game-high six points. Mavunga has six rebounds, but also five turnovers.
If there's some solace for Miami, Cvetinovic and Marshall have two fouls each. Miami's Roberts has three, while Rollins and Williams have two each.
The last two halves these teams have played: 69-38, Akron advantage.
I've spent time with a lot of politicians and seen how they operate. I've gotta tell you that Cvetinovic is every bit the schmoozer as any of them. We should nickname him "the Ambassador."
McClanahan nailed a 3 from the corner to start the half.
Marshall found himself all alone under the cup with the ball. Winbush came flying in to grab him. McKnight jumped off the bench calling for an intentional foul. It was not called as such. Marshall missed both free throws.
If you thought the Zips would hold the ball until 20 seconds were left on the clock each possession, you're wrong. Akron is running the break and not wasting any time in the half court.
During a timeout, Charlie Coles got up in Mavunga's face and told him to start getting physical.
Marshall got switched out on Winbush, who appropriately dribble-drove. It was inevitable that Marshall would pick up his third foul. Back to the bench.
A deep Cvetinovic jumper extended the lead to 20 with 16 minutes left. He looked over to the AK-Rowdies with a smile.
At the 16:04 mark, Gaffney called this game for the Zips. "It's over," he said. I told him that's going on the blog. He's the guy to blame if things go south.
Nick Dials is on the Miami bench. He is a volunteer assistant.
Winbush finally made a 3. Miami is now 1-for-11 from behind the arc.
A Kent State fan sitting behind me (the one who looked at the box score) is heckling Diggs. He yelled, "Try not to start any fights, Quincy." Diggs was on the free-throw line and looked over, mouthing something in this direction.
Cvetinovic was talking smack with the Miami cheerleaders. Meanwhile, the RedHawks were on a run and narrowed the lead to 12.
Marshall got his fourth foul trying to defend Mavunga in the post. Back to the bench.
The RedHawks are starting to feel a little better about themselves offensively, but the Zips are responding with their own buckets to prevent this from becoming close again.
Before today, the worst half a team played in the MAC Tournament was 13 points by Eastern Michigan in 1997. Just to put that in perspective. It's helpful also to point out that Akron played a bad first half, and still led by 14 at the intermission.
Miami fouled Bardo for its seventh foul. Bardo shoots the ball faster than anyone I've ever seen. As soon as he gets it, it's in the air. No dribble. No pause. Normally pretty poor from the line, Bardo made both.
Cvetinovic also has four fouls now. Bardo is going to work up a nice sweat today.
A 3 by Williams brought the lead down to 11. The Zips are making an effort to get McKnight involved on the other end.
Miami fans are beginning to get louder at the 10 minute mark. Allen Roberts made two free throws to make it a nine-point game.
Akron has struggled offensively without Cvetinovic and Marshall on the floor. They both came back at the 9:21 mark with four fouls apiece. Miami is on a 6-0 run.
Akron has 10 fouls. This half has not had any "flow" to it because of all the whistles.
Williams went flying into a female Zips fan in the front row, while trying to save a loose ball. The fan's seat tipped over backwards, but she's OK.
Cvetinovic fouled out on a charge. He was trying to back down Mavunga, who flopped.
The Zips appear to be trying to run more of the clock. Well, until Diggs streaked down the floor, trying to go coast-to-coast. He ran into a wall of defenders and missed the shot. Miami hit a 3 on the other end, narrowing the lead to seven.
With the lead down to five, Marshall knocked down a hook shot off glass, while being fouled. He made the foul shot, which makes it three straight he's hit.
The Zips are in a 1-3-1 zone. Miami worked it down to Mavunga, who was guarded by Marshall, but Akron doubled-down.
Miami now also has 10 fouls. Both teams will shoot two the rest of the game.
Allen Roberts splashed a 3 from the top of the key. The RedHawks trail by only two. They are on a 34-18 comeback since the 15:57 mark.
Diggs committed a horrible foul, flying into Williams during a 3 attempt. Williams made two of his three shots.
McNees just missed the easiest layup you'll see.
The refs called Marshall for goaltending on a shot that I don't think he even touched. Tie game with 3:12 left.
McKnight made a big play. He caught a rebound from a missed Darryl Roberts 3 and put it back in, getting fouled in the process. McKnight missed the free throw.
Williams hit a 3 on the other end to give the RedHawks a lead. What a game! Timeout Zips. Miami has a one-point lead with 2:35 left.
For as bad as Miami shot in the first half, the RedHawks have scored 45 points in the second half. And that's after getting a cold start after halftime.
McKnight came through with another big shot. A deep three pointer. Then he grabbed a loose defensive rebound on the other end.
Diggs got trapped in the corner and called timeout. Akron's up two with 1:47 left.
As Miami took the ball down the floor on the last possession, a referee tripped over the cameraman whom the ref accused of sticking out too far at midcourt.
McClanahan stroked a 3 coming out of the timeout. A little breathing room.
Bye bye, Zeke. He took his eye off Mavunga, who had the ball, and Mavunga drove past him. Marshall prevented the easy dunk, but now he's gone. Akron is going small now, with McKnight being the tallest Zip. Dambrot is going to make offense-defense substitutions. Zips' ball, up three, with 1:20 left.
The ball went to Diggs, who drove. The Miami defender flopped, and Diggs tripped over him. The refs called traveling. I am confused as to why Diggs got the ball in that situation. Why not McKnight on the block?
Mavunga pulled down an offensive rebound, and Bardo fouled him (allegedly) on the put-back attempt. Mavunga made one. The shot clock is off, so Miami will need a turnover or will need to foul. They put McNees on the line. Akron leads by two with 25 seconds left.
McNees made both shots.
Chris McHenry went coast-to-coast and got an easy hoop. Eighteen seconds left. The Zips have a two-point lead. Timeout Miami.
McKnight will go to the line after a Mavunga foul. Fifteen seconds left. McKnight missed the first and made the second. Miami can tie.
John Harris caught a kick-out pass from Mavunga and drilled the game-tying 3. McNees got a look at a game-winner, but he missed it wide. Overtime.
Miami put together a 53-point half. Now that's a feat. The team shot 55.6 percent in the second half.
It's Miami's advantage in overtime, because Akron is missing Cvetinovic and Marshall. The RedHawks are getting what they want in the paint so far in overtime.
Bardo now has four fouls. Mavunga nearly airballed a free throw. Miami's up by three with 3:17 left.
Diggs took a reckless drive to the rim, collected his own miss and made the change. Akron regained the lead. Miami ball with the RedHawks down one. Akron has the possession arrow, if that happens to matter.
Harris caught the ball on a cut and laid the ball in. McNees missed a wide-open 3. McKnight stole the ball and was absolutely hammered by Williams. McKnight hit the floor hard. Dambrot wants an intentional foul, but he's not gotten it so far. That's Williams' fifth, so he's gone.
The refs have decided to review the play to see if the foul was flagrant. On the first look, it was. Maybe it will look more innocent on replay.
That was quick, too quick. Maybe Boroski and Co. were looking to see what the clock said again.
Miami is out of timeouts.
McKnight rattled home the first. Tie game. He made the second on a high-arcing shot. Akron timeout.
Diggs did it again. He bit on a pump fake and flew into Allen Roberts on a 3-point attempt. I'm not sure this guy can be trusted in crunch time. Roberts made one. Akron ball. Tie game. Timeout Zips, their last. The shot clock is basically off. There are 27.8 seconds left in the game, and the shot clock reads "28."
All guards plus McKnight on the floor for Akron. Abreu ran the clock down to 8, and missed a layup. Mavunga collected the rebound, passed it ahead, and Miami missed a 3 attempt as the overtime clock expired. We're going to double-overtime.
The fans are shouting at the referee, "Flagrant foul, ref!"
McKnight was fouled on a fast break. He hit the floor again. He made one free throw.
Mavunga is trying to draw Bardo's fifth foul. After Bardo, the Zips don't have much size left.
Miami just committed a huge defensive gaffe. They went under a screen and let Abreu have a wide-open 3, which he made. Akron is up two.
Abreu committed an error of his own the next time Akron had the ball. He tried to pass the ball to Roberts, and the ball went out of bounds. Miami timeout. Zips lead by two with 1:41 left.
The band is playing "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. I now feel like Akron has zero chance of losing this game.
Akron is playing a 2-3 zone. The RedHawks missed a wide-open 3, but got the rebound. Bardo then fouled out on an Allen Roberts drive. Roberts missed both. (These missed free throws are killing Miami.)
The Zips ran the shot clock all the way down. McClanahan drilled a 3. Miami missed a 3 on the other end. Rebound to McKnight. McKnight is at the line with a five-point lead, and only 15.7 seconds are left. That should be the game.
McKnight made both to ice it. What a friggin' game this was!
McKnight fouled Mavunga, which made the fans angry. But it's irrelevant. Mavunga missed both.
Oh. My. Gosh. That was one of the best games I've ever seen in person.
I can't stick around for the press conference, but I will be at The Q for tomorrow night's game against Western Michigan, which starts at 7.
Final Score - Akron 82, Miami 75