Men's Basketball Opens MAC Title Defense Wednesday vs. Western Michigan

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Western Mich. (8-5, 0-0 MAC) at Akron (9-4, 0-0 MAC)

Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 • 7 p.m. ET
Akron, Ohio
James A. Rhodes Arena (5,500)

Television: None

Webcast/Live Statistics:
Available at GoZips.com – webcast and live statistics free of charge.

Radio: SportsRadio 1350 AM (WARF) in Akron (flagship), for free at SportsRadio1350.com and on iHeartRadio. Steve French (play-by-play) and Joe Dunn (analyst) will have the call beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Akron Coach Keith Dambrot
(Akron, 1982):
Is in his ninth season at Akron, posting a 193-91 (.680) mark.  Dambrot is 301-161 (.652) in 15 seasons as a collegiate head coach. He is 11-7 all-time against WMU, including an 11-3 record as head coach of the Zips.

The Series: Akron leads the all-time series 22-17, having won seven-straight in the series. The Zips are 11-6 at the JAR against the Broncos, having won four-straight by an average of 22.8 points per game. UA won its only match-up with WMU last season, a 69-66 victory overtime in Kalamazoo, Mich., on Feb. 8.

Zips Open MAC Play vs. Western Michigan
Akron opens its 2013 Mid-American Conference schedule Wednesday when it plays host to Western Michigan.

News, Notes and Storylines
• Akron concluded its non-conference slate on Jan. 2 with a 91-63 win over Coppin State.
• For the first time in Akron's Division I era (since 1980-81), three Zips had a double-double in the same game, including Zeke Marshall (13 points, 12 rebounds), Nick Harney (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Jake Kretzer (14 points, 12 rebounds).
• Zeke Marshall also became the 40th player in program history and the tenth player under ninth-year head coach Keith Dambrot to score 1,000 career points (1,010).
Alex Abreu moved into fourth place on the career assists list at Akron, dishing out five dimes to finish the evening with 352 to pass Nate Barnett (351, 1972-75). Abreu is just the fifth player in school history with 350-plus assists.
• During their five-game winning streak, the Zips are out-scoring their opponents by 21.4 points/game and hold a +15.6 rebounding advantage. UA is shooting 48.8 percent while holding opponents to just 35.4 percent shooting. UA has held the lead for 190:09 out of the last 200 minutes (95.1 percent).
• Tonight's matchup between Keith Dambrot (301) and Steve Hawkins (303-248) will be the first meeting between two 300-win coaches in the MAC since WMU's Bob Donewald (354) and Ohio's Larry Hunter (481) on Jan. 22, 2000.
• Akron has now shot 50.0 percent or better in seven of its last nine contests.
• In games through Jan. 6, the Zips are eighth in the nation in blocked shots (6.6 bpg) and 34th in scoring offense (78.0).
• Akron has two players scoring in double figures and is the only team in the MAC with seven players averaging 7.0 points or better, including Zeke Marshall (13.3), Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell (10.9), Nick Harney (9.9), Alex Abreu (9.3), Brian Walsh (8.3), Jake Kretzer (7.8) and Chauncey Gilliam (7.3).

A Look at the Broncos
Western Michigan enters tonight's game with an 8-5 mark, including a 2-5 record on the road this season. The Broncos have lost four of their last six games and are coming off an 84-68 loss at No. 23/25 North Carolina State on Dec. 29.

WMU has three players scoring in double figures, including Nate Hutcheson (12.6), Darius Pail (12.0) and Shayne Whittington (11.8). Whittington is the team's leading rebounder (8.2 rpg).

On the Line vs. Western Michigan
• A victory would extend Akron's home winning streak to eight games.
• A win would be the eighth-straight for the Zips over the Broncos and the 12th-straight against a MAC West opponent.
• A victory would give the Zips at least a share of the East Division lead for the tenth-straight week during league play.

What You May Not Know About the Series
• Akron and Western Michigan have met in the MAC Tournament five times since 2004-05, with the Zips owning a 4-1 record.
• The Zips are 12-8 against the Broncos in cross-divisional play.

Last Time Out vs. Western Michigan
Forty minutes was not enough as the Zips won their first overtime game of last season, defeating Western Michigan 69-66 at University Arena on Feb. 8.

Trailing by as many as 11 points in the game, the Zips out-scored the Broncos 37-28 in the second half and 10-7 in overtime.

Alex Abreu tied for the game high with 15 points and added four assists and four steals. Zeke Marshall (14), Brian Walsh (12) and Quincy Diggs (10) also scored in double figures for the Zips.

Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell added nine points and nine rebounds, all coming in the second half.
Mike Douglas led WMU with 15 points.

Opening League Play
• UA is 13-7 in MAC openers (9-1 at home) since joining the league in 1992.
• Akron is 68-33 against the West, including winners of nine-straight regular-season contests, since divisional play began during the 1997-98 season (38-12 under head coach Keith Dambrot).

Defending the Crown
For the first time is program history, the Zips open up play as the defending Mid-American Conference regular season champions.
Repeating as regular season champion in the MAC is no easy feat. Since the conference went to its current divisional-play format (1997-98), only Kent State (2010-11) has repeated. In 65 years of basketball, only 11 programs have repeated as regular season champions, with only two repeat champions coming in the last 30 years (Ball State 1989-90; Kent State 2010-11).

Home Cooking
Akron is 111-17 (.867) at Rhodes Arena under ninth-year head coach Keith Dambrot (7-0 overall, 0-0 MAC this season). The Zips have recorded 10-straight winning campaigns at home, including last season, and have won at least 13 home contests in seven-of-eight years. UA's last losing record at home came in 1995-96 (2-11).

How Many Double-Doubles?
• In Akron's 91-63 win over Coppin State, three Zips' players recorded double-doubles in the same game for the first time in the program's Division I era (since 1980-81). Zeke Marshall (13 points, 12 rebounds), Nick Harney (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Jake Kretzer (14 points, 12 rebounds) helped make history and record just the third such instance of three double-doubles in the same game this season (LIU Brooklyn, Dec. 1, 2012; Iowa State, Nov. 9, 2012).
• Additionally, Akron is tied with Michigan for number of players to record at least one double-double with five (Harney, Kretzer, Marshall, Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell and Brian Walsh).

Looking for No. 200
Head coach Keith Dambrot can reach an Akron coaching milestones this season. He needs seven wins to become just the second coach in school history with 200 wins, joining Russell Beichly (286, 1941-59).

January is a Good Month
• Akron is 50-20 (.714) in the month of January under ninth-year head coach Keith Dambrot, having won nine of its last 10 games in the first month of the year.
• The Zips are even better at home during the month, posting a 29-3 mark (.906) at the JAR in January. UA has gone undefeated at home in five of eight January slates under Dambrot and have won four-straight at home. Last year, Akron played just two home games in January (2-0).

Who to Guard Tonight?
One aspect of the Zips' lineup that makes it so hard to defend is the ability for any player to lead the squad in scoring. Last season, eight different players led Akron in scoring, with only two players holding top scoring honors in back-to-back games. So far this season, seven players have had a least a share of the top-scoring performance, with Brian Walsh and Zeke Marshall as the only players to lead the Zips in back-to-back game.

Now Starting for Akron
Through 13 games this season, the Zips have started six different lineups. Last season, Akron had six different starting lineups, with the sixth different line-up coming in game 30.

Just How Young Are They?
• Akron entered the season as the ninth-youngest teams in the nation, with 16 players having a total of 15 seasons of collegiate experience (0.94 years/letters won per player). In fact, 12 of 16 players had one year or less in the experience column prior to 2012-13.
• Last season, the Zips had 15 players with a total of 19 seasons of collegiate experience, the 20th-youngest team in Division I basketball (1.27 years/letters won per player. Akron is one of just four teams to appear on this list in each of the past two seasons (Navy, Illinois State and Wright State).

1,000 Point Club
With a dunk just three minutes into the game against Coppin State on Jan. 2, senior center Zeke Marshall became the 40th member of Akron's 1,000-point club. He needs four points to pass Sam Serves (1,013) for 39th place and 14 points to pass Nate Linhart for 38th place (1,023).
40. 1,010 - Zeke Marshall (2010-Present)
39. 1,013 - Sam Serves (1942-47)
38. 1,023 - Nate Linhart (2006-09)
37. 1,041 - Hank Vaughn (1946-50)
36. 1,046 - Dru Joyce (2004-07)
35. 1,055 - Bobby Walker (1946-50)

Inside the Scoring Numbers
The Zips have been one of the top defensive squads in the league over the last nine seasons. In 284 games under head coach Keith Dambrot, the Zips have held 205 opponents to 70 points or less, going 166-39 (.810). Akron has held 159 of those foes to 65 points or less, going 139-20 (.874). On the flip side, Akron is 27-52 when allowing 70-plus points (.342).

Solid Bench Play
• The Akron bench has been the catalyst for success under ninth-year head coach Keith Dambrot and this year is no different.
• The Zips' bench holds a +11.2 scoring advantage over the competition (28.9-17.8), having been out-scored only twice this season (38-21 vs. MTSU; 46-38 vs. UAPB). The Akron reserves are shooting 42.9 percent from the floor compared to 33.1 percent by the opponent reserves.

Recent Domination
• During its five-game winning streak, the Zips have been dominating in almost every statistical category.
• Akron is averaging 79.8 points/game during the stretch while out-scoring opponents by 21.4 points/game (58.4). UA is shooting 48.8 percent while holding the opposition to just 35.4 percent from the floor.
• UA is averaging 43.0 rebounds/game and a +15.6 rebounding advantage while dishing out 19.0 assists and recording 7.0 steals per game. The only stat the Zips trail in are turnovers (14.6-13.4, -1.2).
• A key part to the stretch has been the play of the Akron front line. Zeke Marshall (16.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Nick Harney (12.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell (11.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg) have accounted for 50.6 percent of UA's points and 45.1 percent of the Zips' rebounds.

Shooting the Lights Out
After a sub-par shooting performance against Oklahoma State on Nov. 15 (21-of-70, .300), the Zips have been shooting the lights out over the past ten games. Akron is connecting on 49.6 percent from the field (283-of-571) over the previous ten contests. The Zips have shot at least 42 percent from the floor in each contest during the run and have posted six performances over 50 percent.

In UA's first three games, the Zips shot 41.5 percent from the floor and shot better than 40 percent just once (57.6 percent vs. John Carroll).

Win No. 300
Thanks to the Zips' 62-58 win over Princeton on Dec. 30, head coach Keith Dambrot earned his 300th career win in his 15th season as a head coach.

Getting Hot at the Right Time
Junior forward Nick Harney is getting hot at the right time of year for the Zips. In the last four games, he is averaging 14.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He has scored in double figures in 3-of-4 contests and posted his first collegiate double-double against Coppin State (14 points, 11 rebounds).

A Growing Tree
Junior forward Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell has had a solid three weeks while growing into his starting role. Since the Detroit game on Dec. 15, he is averaging 13.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game while shooting 66.7 percent from the floor (34-of-51). He has dominated the offensive glass, grabbing 17 total rebounds (2.8 per game). Included in that stretch was his first-career 20-point game (at Detroit) and his first-collegiate double-double (vs. Texas Southern).

Torching the Net
Senior center Zeke Marshall is torching the net of late, both from the field and at the charity stripe. In the last four games, he is shooting 78.8 pecent from the floor (26-of-33) and 73.9 percent from the charity stripe (17-of-23). Combined all his shots and his effective shooting percentage is 76.8 percent (43-of-56).

Breaking Down the Stats
• Junior guard Alex Abreu ranks third in the MAC and 24th in the nation in assist rate, recording a dime on 37.23 percent of the field goals made by the Zips while on the floor.
• Senior center Zeke Marshall is second in the MAC and fourth in the nation in block rate, swatting 13.05 percent of the shots taken by Akron opponents while on the floor. Redshirt freshman center Pat Forsythe is fourth in the MAC (8.67) in the same category. He would rank 21st in the nation if he qualified (20 mpg min.).
• As a team, the Zips are tied for 33rd nationally in points per possession, averaging 1.08 points per trip down the court. Akron's shooting has also been effective this season as UA is averaging 1.14 points per shot (tied for 27th).

A Look at the Polls
• Two opponents appeared in the Jan. 7 editions of the AP and USA TODAY Coaches polls. Creighton (13/11) was ranked in both while Oklahoma State (64/34) received votes in both.
• Akron is ranked 13th in the Jan. 7 edition of the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25 Poll. Six of UA's mid-major opponents appeared in the poll, including No. 1 Creighton, No. 12 Middle Tennessee, No. 15 Ohio and No. 25 Detroit. Western Michigan (19) and Kent State (6) received votes.

RPI Watch
• Entering today's game, the Zips check in at No. 45 in the Ken Pom RPI rankings (games through Jan. 7).
• So far, Akron has played three teams inside the top 40 of the RPI, including Creighton (No. 15), Oklahoma State (No. 24) and Middle Tennessee (No. 38), in addition to a top-100 opponent in Princeton (No. 91).
• UA could add one more high-RPI non-conference opponent with the 2013 Sears BracketBusters event.

Welcome to the Block Party
• One area the Akron defense has been stout is in the shot blocking category. The Zips lead the Mid-American Conference and are tied for eighth in the nation in blocked shots per game (6.6) in games through Jan. 6.
• Senior center Zeke Marshall continues to be one of the premier shot blockers in the nation. In games through Jan. 6, Marshall is fourth in the nation in blocked shots per game (3.77), has blocked more shots (49) than 155 DI teams and is averaging more swats per game (3.77) than 200 DI squads.
• Redshirt freshman Pat Forsythe is emerging into a solid shot blocker in his first season with Akron. He is second on the team and seventh in the MAC with 1.38 blocked shots per game.
• Combined, Marshall and Forsythe have more blocked shots per game (5.15) than ten of 12 league programs (Akron, 6.6; EMU 5.6) and 315 DI teams (out of 347).

And Then There Were Seven
In 2004, college basketball saw 34 programs hire new head coaches, including ninth-year head coach Keith Dambrot. Of those 34 coaches to take over new programs that year, only seven remain at the same program.
Compared to those coaches, Dambrot ranks third in wins and is one of only two coaches in that group to lead their program to seven-straight 22-plus win seasons (Thad Matta, Ohio State).

School              Coach                        W-L          Next 
Ohio State        Thad Matta                 232-68     1/8
Georgetown      John Thompson, III     193-84     1/8
Akron              Keith Dambrot          193-91    1/9
Chattanooga     John Shulman             138-136   1/10
Loyola (Md.)     Jimmy Patsos              133-128   1/11
La Salle            John Giannini              128-131   1/9
Maine               Ted Woodward            88-133     1/9

Of the coaches not at the program they were hired at in 2004, only Lon Kruger (UNLV, 2004-11) won more than 150 games (161-71) at one school.

How Hard is it to Win 20 Games?
• The Akron Zips are the only team in the Mid-American Conference to have won 20-plus games in each of the last seven seasons. In fact, only 17 teams (Akron, Butler, BYU, Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Kansas, Louisville, Marquette, North Carolina, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Syracuse, Texas, Utah State and Xavier) have won 20-plus games in the last seven seasons.
• Taking things one step further, the Zips are one of only seven programs with at least 22-plus wins during that same stretch (Akron, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Utah State).
• On the coaching side of 20-win seasons, head coach Keith Dambrot is currently tied for 13th place among active coaches with current 20-plus game winning streaks (7) and tied for the tenth-longest streak at the same program. Only two coaches [Mark Few, Gonzaga (13); Stew Morrill, Utah State (12)] have posted longer streaks of 20-win seasons solely at mid-major programs.

The Century Club
Junior guard Alex Abreu has appeared in 80 games in two-plus seasons for the Zips. Barring injury, Abreu and the Zips need to play in three postseason games for him to reach the century mark this season, joining senior center Zeke Marshall.

Lights, Camera, Action
The Zips will appear on television a minimum of 10 times this season, with the potential for 11 additional TV games. Akron has gone 2-3 so far, falling 80-73 at Detroit on FOX Sports Detroit in its last TV appearance (Dec. 15).

Watching the Akron Record Book
• Senior center Zeke Marshall is looking to add to his list of school records. With 49 blocked shots through 13 games this season, he is on pace to break his own school record for swats in a single season (95). Marshall is on pace for 113 swats (through the end of the regular season). He would become the first UA player to crack the century mark for blocked shots.
• For the third-straight season, the career games played school record could be equalled or eclipsed. Senior center Zeke Marshall has appeared in 118 games over the last three-plus seasons. The Zips would need to appear in six postseason games to tie and seven for Marshall to break the school record of 141, set by Steve McNees (2008-11) and Nikola Cvetinovic (2009-12).
• After breaking the freshman and sophomore season assists records, junior guard Alex Abreu is setting his sights on moving up the career list. Against Coppin State on Jan. 2, he became just the fifth player in UA history to record 350 career assists (352). He is currently fourth on the all-time UA list, passing Nate Barnett (351, 1972-75) against Coppin State. He needs 40 dimes to pass Jimmal Ball (391, 1997-2000) for third place. At his current pace of 5.8 assists/game, he could break Dru Joyce's single-season assists mark of 165 (2005-06) by the end of the regular season. He is currently on pace for 174 dimes.

Looking at the MAC Record Book
• Senior center Zeke Marshall passed Ohio's John Devereaux (260, 1980-84) and Jason Terry (262, 1992-96) in Puerto Rico to take over sole possession of second place on the MAC list for blocked shots (295). Against Western Michigan, he has a chance to tie or pass Lonnie Jones (301, BSU, 1998-02) for the top spot in MAC history. Marshall has two six-block performances this season and two tallies of seven or more blocked shots for his career.
• The career mark is not the only MAC record Zeke Marshall is chasing. He is also on pace to become the second player in MAC history to crack the century mark for blocked shots (Patrick Flomo, Ohio, 105, 2000-01). Marshall is on pace for 113 swats (through the end of the regular season).
• Compared to other coaches all-time in the MAC, head coach Keith Dambrot is fifth in league history with a .630 win percentage while coaching in the league (213-125 overall; 193-91 Akron, 20-34 CMU), fifth in overall wins (213), sixth in league games winning percentage (.620, 103-63) and seventh in conference wins (103).

A Winning Standard
Since taking over the program before the 2004-05 season, ninth-year head coach Keith Dambrot has created a winning mentality in the program that has not been seen in 112 seasons of basketball. Of the six senior classes to win 90 or more games in their career, five of those have come under Dambrot. Zeke Marshall, the lone member of the senior class that has been with Akron for his entire career, has helped Akron to 78 wins and counting.

• Class of 2010 (2007-10) – 97 wins
• Class of 2009 (2006-09) – 96 wins
• Class of 2011 (2008-11) – 94 wins
• Class of 2012 (2009-12) – 92 wins
• Class of 2008 (2005-08) – 92 wins
• Class of 1966 (1963-66) – 91 wins