CMU loses at home despite 2nd half comeback
Braylon Rayson, despite having the second best scoring average in the Mid-American Conference, can sometimes get lost in the limelight, when his teammate Marcus Keene has had his face plastered on newspapers and televisions across the country.
It doesn't seem to bother Rayson though, who's maintained a team-first attitude. But when the senior guard is given the opportunity to shine, he responds in a big way.
Central Michigan (16-10, 6-7 MAC) was down four with 1:19 remaining in regulation Tuesday at McGuirk Arena, having trailed by double-digits for a majority of the second half, in the second game played against Buffalo this season.
Rayson, who finished with his 12th straight MAC game with 20 points or more, got fouled at the top of the key before sinking the three-point shot, capitalizing on the four-point play.
Rayson, with 28 points for a game-high, passes former First Team All-MAC recipient Chris Fowler for fifth all-time in CMU career-scoring with 1,745 points.
"My team believes in me and I believe in myself," Rayson said. "My coaches and I know that I can go out there and do it."
It would be the last point CMU would score, as the Bulls utilized their size by collecting their 38th point in the paint and getting to the free throw line two times before the final buzzer.
The Chippewas, almost eight minutes prior to Rayson's feat of athleticism, trailed by 15 but went on a 16-2 run before Keene made it 76-75 with 6:30 remaining.
Six players finished with double-digits points for Buffalo, who grabbed its fourth straight win over Central Michigan, 99-93, two weeks after the pair met in New York on Jan. 31. It's the second loss at home this year for CMU.
Central Michigan falls to second in the MAC West division standings, tied with Toledo and Western Michigan. Buffalo remains tied for second in the MAC East with Ohio, four games back of Akron.
"We're an improving team and we've come a long way after starting out 1-4 early in the conference season," CMU coach Keno Davis said. "We still have to get better, because the margin of error in this conference isn't very great."
What will overshadow the loss for CMU, who has five games remaining on the schedule before the league tournament in Cleveland, is the record setting performance from Keene.
Keene needed 24 points last Saturday to break the program's all-time single-season scoring record, previously held by Dan Majerle, who scored a total of 759 points during the 1987-88 season.
While he only tallied 12 against Miami (OH) in Oxford, Keene came through in front of the home crowd at the 15:16 mark of the second half, driving to the glass and got the field goal on a spin move.
Keene scored just four of his final 27 points in the opening half, all from free throw attempts. The guard also broke the MAC record for points in a season by a junior, previously held by Ron Harper, the five-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls.
"It's very well deserved when you think of his journey," Davis said. "He's buying his time, so for him to get some recognition is well deserved. I think it's a sign of great things to come for him and his future in basketball and it's another step for our program."
Josh Kozinski finished with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting for CMU, all from three-point range. Cecil Williams added six, bringing the crowd to its feet after slamming it down with a one handed dunk midway through the second half.
A 7-2 run at halftime cut the Chippewas' deficit to 42-36, after they trailed by 11 with 2:20 left.