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Men's Hoops Opens Conference Play at Akron

Courtesy: Sean Fagan, Assistant Director of Media Relations
Release: 01/09/2013
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Western Michigan Broncos (8-5) at Akron Zips (9-4)
Wednesday, January 9 // 7 p.m.
Akron, Ohio // James A. Rhodes Arena
Akron leads series 22-17 // Broncos trail 5-11 in Akron


Radio • Bronco Radio Network
Announcers • Robin Hook
Stations • WKZO - 96.5 FM: (Flagship) Kalamazoo, Portage, Mattawan; WMAX - 96.1 FM: Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon; WVIC - 94.1 FM: Lansing, Jackson, Battle Creek
Broadcast • Pre-game show begins at 6:30 p.m.





• This will be the 40th meeting between Western Michigan and Akron, with the Zips holding a 22-17 advantage in the series
• The Broncos are 4-11 all-time against Akron under head coach Steve Hawkins, including seven straight losses in the series
• The Broncos' eight total wins entering conference play is the second-highest total in the MAC
• Western MIchigan is the only MAC team to have played seven or more games away from home and still have a winning record in 2012-13
• The Broncos have opened MAC play on the road in six of the 10 seasons under head coach Steve Hawkins, and are 2-4 in MAC openers played on the road during that span
• The Broncos are 6-3 all-time in MAC openers under head coach Steve Hawkins
• The Broncos received 19 votes in this week's Mid-Major Top 25 poll
Darius Paul leads all freshmen in the MAC in scoring (12.0 ppg) and rebounds (6.7 rpg)
Shayne Whittington is averaging 18.3 points per game in his last four contests, including 20+ points in two of those four
• The Bronco bench is averaging 16.5 points per game over the last four games, the best such stretch so far this season
• Paul recorded his third double-double of the season against North Carolina State, posting 12 points and 10 rebounds
• Two of Darius Paul's three double-doubles this season came against nationally-ranked foes (#3 Michigan, #23 NC State)
Shayne Whittington is ranked second in the MAC West and 10th in the conference overall on John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Ratings; teammate Darius Paul rates as fifth and 16th, respectively
• The Broncos lead the Mid-American Conference in rebounding margin at +8.9

This will be the 16th meeting between the Zips and the Broncos under WMU head coach Steve Hawkins, with Akron holding an 11-4 advantage in the all-time series. The last time the Broncos defeated the Zips came during the 2007-08 season, an 86-66 win at University Arena. The Broncos have lost seven straight games to Akron, including three times in the MAC Tournament.

Freshman forward Connar Tava has helped the Broncos to three of their best games of the season in regards to bench output, and is adding more of a scoring touch to his repertoire. Tava is averaging 6.8 points per game in the last four games, including eight points apiece against High Point and Duquesne and seven points against Mount St. Mary's.

Another young Bronco providing quality minutes off the bench has been Taylor Perry, providing strong on-ball defense and the ability to hit the open shot when the time comes. Perry is averaging 5.3 points per game off the bench in each of the last four contests, scoring at least five points off the bench in each.

The Broncos have played nine of their first 13 games away from University Arena to start the 2012-13 season, but that has not hindered their ability to post one of the best overall records in the conference in that time. Only two other schools in the MAC - Buffalo and Central Michigan - have played as many as nine games away from home, and only the Broncos and Chippewas have winning records.

Furthermore, only Toledo and Miami have played as many true road games (seven) as the Broncos, but neither of those teams have winning records to show for it.

Over the course of the last four games, the Broncos' bench has been as good of shape as it has been all season. Western Michigan is averaging 16.5 points per game off the bench over the last four games.

Darius Paul has recorded three double-doubles this season, and in doing so has shown he won't shrink against a top opponent. Of Paul's three double-doubles, two have come against nationally-ranked opposition (at #3 Michigan, at #23 North Carolina State).