WEDNESDAY’S GAME: After a 10-day layoff between its first two games due to a game cancellation, Miami looks forward to a three-game homestand over a seven-day stretch. The RedHawks host the Miami Invitational December 9-11, battling Western Illinois on Wednesday, Dec. 9 to open the invite.
ABOUT WESTERN ILLINOIS: The Leathernecks enter Wednesday’s game with an 0-2 mark after a 99-58 loss at No. 3 Iowa last Thursday and being edged at home by Central Michigan, 79-73 on Sunday. Tamell Pearson averages a team-leading 17.0 ppg and 7.5 rpg. Rod Johnson, Jr. follows averaging 13.0 ppg and 6.5 rpg, while Will Carius chips in 10.5 ppg.
THE SERIES WITH THE LEATHERNECKS: This is the third meeting between Miami and Western Illinois with the RedHawks holding a 2-0 lead in the series. Wednesday marks the second time the teams will play Oxford with Miami taking the opening meeting, 81-72, on Nov. 26, 2016. In the last meeting between the teams on Dec. 2, 2017, Miami pulled out a 76-73 double overtime win in Macomb, Ill.
FRIDAY’S GAME: The RedHawks return to the court to round out the Miami Invitational facing Mount St. Joseph on Friday, Dec. 11.
ABOUT MOUNT ST. JOSEPH: The Lions return three starters from a team that posted a 6-19 mark a season ago. Brady Thomas led the team, averaging 14.9 ppg, while Devin Young added 14.0 ppg and a team-leading 5.6 rpg. Tanner Clos was the other Lion to average double figures in scoring (11.4 ppg).
THE SERIES WITH THE LIONS: This is the first meeting between MU and MSJU.
LAIRY REMAINS PERFECT FROM FREE-THROW LINE: After sinking 10-of-10 free throws in the season opener against North Dakota, junior guard Mekhi Lairy continued his perfect free-throw shooting at Wright State, going 2-for-2 from the line. Lairy’s performance against UND tied several others at Miami for the single-game free-throw percentage record (minimum of 10 attempts). The last time a Miami player was perfect from the charity stripe while hitting double figures in free throws was when Willie Moore went 12-for-12 from the line at Bowling Green on Jan. 25, 2014.
PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES: Three RedHawks rank among the top 10 in the Mid-American Conference in different shooting percentage categories. Junior guard Mekhi Lairy ties for first in free-throw percentage (1.000), senior forward Precious Ayah ranks second in field goal percentage (.615), while freshman forward Javin Etzler ranks 6th in 3-point field goal percentage (.500).
BUILDING BLOCKS: As a team, Miami ranks second in the MAC in blocked shots, averaging 3.5 per game with three RedHawks ranking among the top four. Junior forward Elijah McNamara averages 1.5 bpg to rank 3rd, while senior forward Precious Ayah and redshirt junior forward James Beck average 1.0 bpg to tie for fourth.
COLEMAN-LANDS LEADS MAC IN ASSIST/TURNOVER RATIO: Redshirt junior guard Isaiah Coleman-Lands has been stingy with turnovers and currently leads the MAC in assist/turnover ratio with seven assists to a mere one turnover through two games.
CLOSING IN ON 1,000: Entering the RedHawks’ next game with 929 career points, senior forward Dalonte Brown is just 71 away from becoming 37th member of Miami’s 1,000 Point Club. Last season, Brown averaged 9.5 ppg. At that pace, he would hit the 1,000-point plateau in Miami’s ninth game.
OLDIES BUT GOODIES: Miami boasts five seniors on its 2020-21 roster and also features five juniors to provide the most-veteran squad in head coach Jack Owens’ tenure. Among the senior group are fifth-year seniors Precious Ayah and Milos Jovic. They are joined by Dalonte Brown, Benjamin Litteken and Michael Ritchie. The junior class includes redshirt juniors Isaiah Coleman-Lands and James Beck. They are joined by Mekhi Lairy, Elijah McNamara and Josh Brewer.
FRESH FACES: New to the RedHawk roster are freshman center Jackson Ames, freshman forward Luka Eller and freshman guard Bryson Tatum. Although not new to the team, redshirt junior James Beck saw his first game action in a Miami uniform after sitting out the 2019-20 season due to NCAA transfer guidelines.
UP NEXT: Miami rounds out a three-game home stretch when it opens Mid-American Conference play on Tuesday, Dec. 15 against Buffalo. Game time is 5:30 p.m. and will be carried on ESPN+ or ESPN3.