Dec. 31, 2008 • Pittsburgh, Pa.
A.J. Palumbo Center • 4:00 p.m.
SETTING THE STAGE
- The Bowling Green State University men's basketball heads back on the road to play a strong Duquesne team that is 8-4 on the season. The Dukes enter the contest with a modest three-game win streak and the Falcons enter with two straight victories.
- The game marks the 24th meeting between the two programs, which began with a 50-44 Duquesne win in December of 1947. The Dukes hold a 14-9 advantage in the all-time series, including a 96-78 win a year ago, but Bowling Green has won eight of the past 14 meetings.
THE OPENING TIP (STORYLINES)
- This contest will be a battle of opposing styles as Duquesne is one of the highest scoring teams in the country over the past three seasons and Bowling Green likes to grind out victories, winning with a defensive mindset.
- The Falcons are still trying to find ways to win in hostile environments, posting an 0-5 record in road games. Duquesne is 4-2 at home with a five-point loss to West Virginia and a 26-point blowout defeat to Old Dominion.
- The Falcons rank in the top half of the MAC in every team statistic that is tracked. BG has shown an impressive ability to do many of the little things well (the Falcons lead the conference in assists, assist/turnover ratio, blocked shots and field goal percentage defense) and that could translate into positive results as the season progresses.
- Duquesne is 8-4 overall and 4-2 at home in the AJ Palumbo Center. Among the Dukes' four losses are defeats to power conference schools Duke, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia, along with a home loss to Old Dominion. Duquesne is coming off of an 88-62 road win over Robert Morris and have won three in a row by an average of 20.0 points per contest. In fact, the Dukes have played just one game decided by 10 points or less.
- Aaron Jackson and Damian Saunders are a duo as solid as any teammates the Bowling Green will face this year. Jackson averages 17.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.8 assists, shooting 58.7 percent from the field. He is comfortable from long range as well, making 13-of-31 (41.9 percent) three-pointers. Saunders averages 15.4 points and 7.6 rebounds, shooting an astounding 61.9 percent from the floor. He has also been consistent from outside, making 14-of-33 (42.4 percent) three-pointers.
- As a team, Duquesne shoots the ball well and scores 78.0 points per game, but the Dukes have struggled defensively at times. They are being outrebounded on the season and are giving up 72.3 points per game, a total BG has allowed just twice this year.
Sophomore forward Chris Knight has begun to show signs of the potential he flashed as a freshman in 2007-08. After missing the first three games of the 2008-09 season, Knight scored just 15 points over the next six games, averaging 2.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. But in the last two contests, he has averaged 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, posting the first Falcon double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds against Eastern Illinois. Knight has also made 11-of-13 free-throws during the two-game stretch and is 9-of-17 shooting.
Chris Knight was named MAC East Player of the Week Monday after averaging 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in leading the Falcons to a pair of wins. He is the first BGSU player to be named conference player of the week this year and it is the second time in his career he has received the award. Knight received the honor a year ago after being named MVP of the Peggy Cronin Classic in Cincinnati.
TRACKING FALCON MILESTONES
A number of BGSU players are closing in on career milestones or have recently reached them:
- Darryl Clements needs 33 points to reach 500 for his career. He also needs one free-throw attempt to qualify for the all-time free-throw percentage leaders. With his 80.8 percentage rate, he would rank ninth all-time in BGSU history.
- Joe Jakubowski made three three-pointers against Eastern Illinois to reach 50 for his career.
- Matt Karaffa picked up the first points of his career on a pair of made free-throws against Eastern Illinois. He also had the first rebound of his career against Towson.
- Chris Knight needs eight rebounds to get to 250 in his career.
- Marc Larson scored four points against Eastern Illinois to reach 200 in his career.
- Erik Marschall needs 23 points for 500 in his career.
- With nine points against Eastern Illinois, Nate Miller went over 800 for his career (now at 805). He needs to average 10.3 points the rest of the way to become the 37th player in program history to score 1,000 by the end of the regular season. He went over the 400 rebound mark and the 100 steal plateau against Detroit and had four assists against Central Arkansas to go over 150.
- Otis Polk needs two blocked shots to become just the fifth player in program history to reach 100 in a career. He had seven rebounds against Eastern Illinois to go over 250 for his career.
BLOCK PARTY, HOSTED BY OTIS
Junior Otis Polk moved into fifth place on BGSU's career blocked shot leaderboard with nine in the past five games, including four against Illinois State. He ranks first in the MAC in blocked shots this year and his 98 career blocks are just 19 behind all-time leader Tom Hall, with 117 from 1989-92. A year ago, he had four blocks in four different games, ending the season with 51, the second highest single-season total in Bowling Green history. Cornelius Cash set the mark with 59 blocks in 1973-74.
- Bowling Green has bucked down defensively in 2008-09, holding 10-of-11 opponents to less than 45 percent shooting, allowing less than 70 points nine times. The team has held its last four opponents to 37 percent shooting or worse. It is a critical stat because the Falcons are just 1-9 under head coach Louis Orr when an opponent shoots 45 percent or better (0-1 this year). BG leads the MAC in field goal percentage defense and blocked shots, ranking in the top four in the conference in scoring defense, steals and three-point field goal percentage defense.
- Bowling Green is on pace to post a historically significant season defensively. The Falcons' 61.1 points per game allowed is the best average since the 1949-50 team allowed 58.3 points per game. As well, the team's .372 field goal percentage allowed is the best total since the 1956-57 team allowed opponents to shoot .359 for the year.
- Bowling Green's defensive prowess has not been more apparent than in the Falcons' win over Detroit. The Titans scored just 38 points, the lowest point total for a BGSU opponent since an 87-37 Bowling Green win over Western Ontario on Feb. 1, 1964. As well, the Titans shot just 22.7 percent from the field and had just two assists. Both of those stats were the lowest BG opponent totals since game-by-game boxscores have been archived (1987-88 season).
LEADERS OF THE MAC
Bowling Green ranks in the top half of the Mid-American Conference in every team stat that is tracked. In fact, the Falcons lead the MAC in four stats, posting the top field-goal percent defensive unit in the conference. The team also leads the MAC in blocked shots, assists, and assist/turnover ratio. On top of that, BGSU leads the conference in two individual categories. Point guard Joe Jakubowski has a MAC-leading 4.3 assists per game and center Otis Polk leads the conference with 1.6 blocked shots per game.
MAKING THINGS INTERESTING
Four of Bowling Green's first 11 games have been decided in the final minute of play. The most exciting of those games was a 77-76 overtime win against Georgia State in the season opener. Darryl Clements and Brian Moten made three-pointers in the final 15 seconds of regulation to force overtime and Joe Jakubowski knocked down a 25-foot three-pointer as the buzzer sounded in the extra session for the win. Against Ohio State, Bowling Green led with six minutes to play but the Buckeyes scored eight straight late to come away with a four-point victory. In a 57-54 loss to Savannah State, BGSU led until the final 1:17 of the contest and missed on two attempts to tie the game in the final 60 seconds. Likewise, in the Falcons' 67-65 loss to Central Arkansas, Bowling Green led until the final 1:19 and lost on a tip-in with just 0.2 seconds to play.
WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE (THAT ROARS)
Anderson Arena has always been a difficult place for opponents and the Falcons are 4-0 at home in 2008-09, beating teams by an average of 22.3 points per game. Bowling Green made "The House That Roars" especially tough on conference foes a year ago, going 6-2. Those six victories included wins over the teams picked to finish first (Kent State), second (Miami) and third (Ohio) in the East Division preseason poll. In fact, the team was roughly two minutes away from a perfect home record in MAC action, losing to Central Michigan in overtime and to Akron by nine points. CMU forced overtime on a putback with 0.9 seconds left in regulation, while Bowling Green led Akron with just over two minutes remaining and trailed by just one point with under a minute left. The Falcons are 441-176 (.715) all-time in Anderson Arena and 155-50 (.756) in the past 16 years.
HITTIN' THE BOOKS
Sophomore point guard Joe Jakubowski was named the Mid-American Conference's Male Scholar Athlete of the Week Dec. 18. He had 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the team's 58-38 win over Detroit and has maintained a 3.56 grade point average entering the fall semester. The MAC Scholar Athlete of the Week is presented to a male and female student-athlete who has a cumulative gpa of 3.0 or better and performed well during the previous week's competition.
Bowling Green will attempt to pick up its seventh win of the season on New Year's Eve against Duquesne. Since the 2002-03 season, the Falcons have won more games than that before the turn of the new year just once. The 2006-07 team had nine wins when Jan. 1 struck and last year's team had just five wins by that time.
LEMENTS' CAREER WEEKEND
Senior guard Darryl Clements was named to the NABC Classic All-Tournament team after setting his new career scoring high not just one time, but twice during the season's opening weekend. Clements made a crucial three-pointer with 15 seconds remaining in regulation that helped pushed the season opener against Georgia State to overtime -- a game the Falcons eventually won. He then scored a career-high 19 points in the team's loss to Minnesota, before pumping home 22 in BGSU's win over Concordia St. Paul. He also led Bowling Green in assists, steals and field goal percentage during the weekend.
NAVIGATING THE SCHEDULE
Bowling Green will play a total of 14 games in "The House That Roars" in 2008-09. BGSU has already hosted four contests and will welcome Fordham to Anderson Arena, along with its normal conference slate. The Falcons will also play a yet-to-be-determined opponent at home in an ESPNU BracketBusters contest. BG has one road non-conference game remaining -- against Duquesne. The Falcons already played three road/neutral site games in Minneapolis, Minn. at the NABC Classic and then traveled to Columbus to play Ohio State. BGSU also played road games at Savannah State, Illinois State, and Central Arkansas.
CAN IT GET ANY TOUGHER?
Although Bowling Green is 6-5 in its first 11 games, the opponents that the Falcons faced will make them stronger once MAC play begins. BGSU's five losses have come against teams with a combined record of 46-10. Two of those teams -- Minnesota and Illinois State -- are still undefeated, while Ohio State has lost just once. Minnesota is ranked No. 21 in the AP Top 25 and Ohio State is No. 24. Meanwhile, Illinois State is receiving votes in the AP poll and is ranked second, behind only Gonzaga, in the Mid-Major Top 25 poll.
Head coach Louis Orr announced the signing of two players for the 2009-10 season during the early signing period. Luke Kraus, of Findlay, Ohio (Findlay HS), and Danny McElroy, of Cincinnati, Ohio (La Salle HS), will join the Falcons next year. Kraus is a two-time player of the year in the Greater Buckeye Conference and McElroy is a tenacious defender who averaged 14.2 points and seven rebounds per game as a junior. Those two will join transfers Darion Goins and Adrion Graves, both of which are sitting out the 2008-09 season due to transfer rules.
CATCH THE FALCONS
- BGSU men's basketball coach Louis Orr appears on the Falcons' Nest Coaches Show on select Monday evenings. The show runs from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., and normally is scheduled for live broadcast from Fricker's in Bowling Green (1720 E. Wooster Street).
- BGSU men's basketball coach Louis Orr will talk live on 1470 WLQR "The Ticket" throughout the year. He is scheduled to be on host Norm Wamer's show Tuesday afternoons at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the season.
- Live statistics for all BGSU home men's basketball games are available on the web via Gametracker. Gametracker allows fans to view in-game stats as they occur, and may be accessed by going to the official site of Falcon athletics, BGSUFalcons.com. Falcon fans can utilize Gametracker for home events in numerous BGSU sports, including football, men's and women's basketball, hockey, men's and women's soccer, volleyball, baseball and softball.