Vikings Host Milwaukee in Key Battle For Third Place

Vikings Host Milwaukee in Key Battle For Third Place

Feb. 19, 2008

Contact: Brian McCann

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Milwaukee (13-11, 8-6) at Cleveland State (17-11, 10-6)
Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
Site: Goodman Arena (8,500), Wolstein Center, Cleveland, Ohio
Promo: Military Night
(Free ticket with current military ID)
TV: Live Video Streaming Available on-line through the Horizon League Network. Links to video available on
(Highlights available on The Viking Basketball Report, which airs weekly on SportsTime Ohio.)
Radio: WJMO, 1300 AM (Al Pawlowski)
(Streaming available at
Series: UWM Leads, 17-11
Last Meeting: @UWM 79, CSU 71 (1/26/08)
Tickets: $8, $10 & $15

SETTING THE SCENE: Cleveland State (17-11, 10-6) returns to the Wolstein Center to conclude the home portion of the 2007-08 regular season by hosting a pair of games this week. Third place in the Horizon League will be on the line when CSU hosts Milwaukee (13-11, 8-6) on Wednesday, Feb. 20 beginning at 7:00 p.m. Cleveland State enters the contest in third place, a game-and-a-half behind second place Wright State (10-5) with just two games to go. Milwaukee is currently in fourth place, a game behind CSU but the Panthers have four games left, the last three coming at home next week. A Viking win will assure CSU of no worse than a third place finish while a loss could leave the Vikings as low as fifth in the standings.

PREVIEWING CLEVELAND STATE: The Vikings are a totally different team from the one that went 10-21 a season ago. With five returners and 10 newcomers on the squad, second year head coach Gary Waters has depth available at every position on the floor. Junior forward J'Nathan Bullock (14.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) leads the returners after becoming only the third player in CSU history to lead the team in scoring as both a freshman and sophomore. All five returners figure prominently in the rotation this season with senior Breyohn Watson (4.8, 2.1) and sophomore Joe Davis (9.0 ppg) sharing time at the off-guard and senior Kevin Francis (4.8, 4.3) and junior Renard Fields (2.2, 1.6) seeing time inside. The Vikings have benefited from the addition of transfers Cedric Jackson (St. John's), Chris Moore (UC Santa Barbara) and George Tandy (Eastern Illinois). Jackson (14.2, 4.8, 4.9 apg) starts at point guard with Moore (5.5, 3.0) and Tandy (4.3, 4.5) sharing the center duties. Freshmen D'Aundray Brown (5.0, 3.4), who has started the last five games, and Norris Cole (3.8 ppg) have each impacted the rotation.

HEAD COACH Gary Waters: A 33-year collegiate coaching veteran, Gary Waters took over as the head coach of the Vikings in the spring of 2006, bringing with him to Cleveland a head coaching history that included six trips to the postseason in his first 10 years as a head coach. He posted a 92-60 record in five seasons at Kent State, making NCAA appearances in both 1998-99 and 2000-01 and becoming the third coach in Mid-American Conference history to be named league coach of the year in successive years. Waters moved to Rutgers in 2001-02, compiling a 79-75 mark in five seasons, including three trips to the NIT. Waters is 27-32 in his second season at CSU, giving him a 198-167 record in 12 seasons.

VIKINGS DRAW MARIST IN ESPNU BRACKETBUSTERS: Cleveland State will host Marist College of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference on Saturday, Feb. 23 beginning at 6:30 p.m. as part of the ESPNU BracketBusters. The game was selected as one of the 14 TV games and will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU. This will be the second meeting all-time between CSU and Marist with the Vikings claiming a 52-49 decision on Jan. 20, 1987 at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. It was a triumphent return for CSU to the building that had seen the Vikings fall to Navy in the NCAA Sweet 16 round the year before. CSU won despite a 22-point, 10-rebound effort from Marist's Rick Smits.

VIKINGS PLAY FOR THIRD: The Vikings enter Wednesday's game against Milwaukee knowing that a victory over the Panthers will give them no worse than a third place finish in the Horizon League this year. A loss will open the possibility of finishing as low as fifth, but either way, CSU is assured of playing at home in the first round of the Horizon League Championships for the first time since 2001-02. At the other end of the spectrum, CSU is a game-and-a-half behind Wright State for second place with the Raiders having two tough road games remaining (at Butler & Valpo). Here is a look at the remaining schedule for the teams that can finish from second to fifth:

School (Record): Games Left
2. Wright State (11-4):
Detroit (2/16), at Butler (2/28), at Valpo (3/1)
3. Cleveland State (10-6): Milwaukee (2/16), at YSU (3/1)
4. Milwaukee (8-6): at CSU (2/16), Valpo (2/25), Loyola (2/28), UIC (3/1)
5. UIC (8-7): Butler (2/20), at UWGB (2/28), at UWM (3/1)

WATERS TWO WINS FROM 200: The 17 wins this year by the Vikings has allowed second-year head coach Gary Waters to raise his career record to 198-166, leaving him two wins away from reaching the 200-win plateau for his career.

VIKINGS PROVE THE EXPERTS WRONG: With no worse than a fifth -place finish assured in the Horizon League this year, the Vikings have officially proven the preseason prognoticators wrong this season. After all, CSU was picked to finish ninth in the Horizon League this year in the annual preseason poll of the coaches, SIDs and media. CSU received 118 points in the poll to be solidly behind eighth-place UIC (171 points) and slightly ahead of 10th place Youngstown State (81 points). Of the 46 ballots cast, CSU was picked to finish higher than sixth on one ballot, that being a fourth-place finish.

CSU SETS MARK WITH 10TH HORIZON LEAGUE WIN: The win over Valparaiso on Thursday was CSU's 10th against a Horizon League opponent this year, the most league wins since the Vikings joined the Horizon League in 1994-95. The previous high was nine wins in both 1999-2000 and 2000-01.

J'NATHAN'S BIG NIGHT: After struggling offensively for most of the Horizon League season, junior J'Nathan Bullock broke out of it in a big way on Feb. 11, scoring 39 points in the win over Green Bay. He was 13-for-14 from the field and 11-for-14 from three-point. Here are a couple of notes on Bullock's performance:
• The fifth-highest single game scoring total in CSU history and the most by a Horizon League player this year.
• The 11th highest point total by a Division I player in the nation this year.
• The highest scoring total by a Viking in the Wolstein Center.
• The .928 field goal percentage was the fourth-highest effort in CSU history and the highest by a Horizon League player this season.
• The .928 field goal percentage was the fourth highest percentage among Division I players this year.
• He entered the game ranked second on the team in scoring, 18 points behind Cedric Jackson. He surpassed Jackson early in the second half and finished the night with a 12-point lead.

. . . AND J'NATHAN'S BIG WEEK: No player in the Horizon League is playing better right now than J'Nathan Bullock, who is averaging 22.5 points over his last four games. Bulock scored 21 vs. Detroit, 39 against Green Bay, 19 at Valparaiso and 11 at Butler to raise his season scoring average by over a point a game. He is shooting .544 (31-57) from the field, .350 from three-point (7-20) and .808 from the line (21-26) during the stretch.

. . . AND BULLOCK APPROACHES RARE SCORING ACHIEVEMENT: When J'Nathan Bullock exploded for 39 points against Green Bay, he took over the team scoring lead from Cedric Jackson and put himself into a position to lead the team in scoring for the third straight year, an accomplishment achieved by only three other players in school history. Weldon Kytle (1962-65) and Franklin Edwards (1978-81) each lead the team in scoring during all four years in the program while Ken McFadden (1987-89) achieved it as a sophomore, junior and senior. Bullock enters the week with 405 points this year, seven more than Jackson (398).

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Gary Waters said when he was hired that one of the first steps towards building a championship program was to make the home court a tough place to play. After a 6-8 mark in the Wolstein Center last season, the Vikings have improved to 10-2 this year, the third-highest season win total in the 17-year history of the building. With at least two home games to go, CSU has a chance to break the arena record of 11 wins, set in both 1992-93 (11-1) and 2000-01 (11-2).

1,000 POINTS & 500 BOARDS FOR BULLOCK: A six-rebound performance at Butler on Saturdy allowed junior J'Nathan Bullock to become just the 10th player in CSU history to record 1,000 points and 500 rebounds during a career. Bullock enters the week with 1,141 points and 501 rebounds.

JACKSON IS A STEAL: A four-steal effort at Butler on Saturday allowed junior Cedric Jackson to move into sixth place on the CSU single season steal list. He is the first player in 18 seasons to break into the top 10. With 74 steals, Jackson needs two to catch Clinton Ransey (76 in 1986-87) for fifth and five to equal Kenny Robertson (79 in 1989-90) for fourth.

. . . JACKSON MAKES HIS MARK NATIONALLY: Not only does Cedric Jackson lead the Horizon League in steals, but the latest NCAA statistics has him ranked 11th nationally.

DAVIS HAS CAREER NIGHT: The loss at UIC on Jan. 31 spoiled a career night from sophomore Joe Davis, who came off the bench to set career highs for points (27) and assists (5). Davis, whose previous career best was a 20-point effort against Geneva, was 10-for-16 from the field and four-for-seven from three-point.

A FOUL CALL: When D'Aundray Brown was forced out of the game with his fifth personal foul against Green Bay on Feb. 11, it marked just the second time this season that CSU had a player disqualified from a game because of fouls. With at least four games to go, the Vikings are on a pace to set the school record for fewest DQ's in a season, which was five set in 1985-86. The only other player to foul out this year is Cedric Jackson, who did not make it through the game at Kent State on Dec. 29.

TANDY SWATS HIS 100TH: Junior George Tandy has eight blocked shots in the last seven games to raise his career total to 106. The 6-8 junior ranks second in the Horizon League this year with 35 blocks (1.35 bpg), having nine multiple block games. Tandy had 42 blocks as a freshman (2004-05) at Eastern Illinois and added 29 the following year before transferring to CSU.

. . . AND CLOSES IN ON CSU TOP 10: With 35 blocked shots this season, George Tandy is just one rejection away from breaking into the CSU single season list for blocks. Tandy needs just one blocks to catch Shawn Fergus, who is currently in 10th place with 36 blocks.

VIKINGS REBOUND TO REBOUND: It has been six seasons since Cleveland State finished the year with a positive rebounding margin, but based on the rebounding performance of the Vikings, the streak may well come to an end this year. In 28 games, CSU has averaged 35.2 rebounds a game while limiting its opponents to 31.8 boards to lead the Horizon League with a +3.4 rebounding margin. The Vikings have out-rebounded their opponent in all but seven games. The last time that CSU was able to hold the rebounding edge for an entire season came in 2000-01 when the Vikings had a +3.1 rebounding margin.

. . . FROM WORST TO FIRST, A LEAGUE FIRST: Not only are the Vikings near the top of the Horizon League after finishing in last place a year ago, but CSU is also attempting to become the first team in league history to go from last in rebounding margin in one year to first the next. The Vikings were out-rebounded 33.1 to 36.6 last year for a -3.5 margin.

. . . BUT DO THEY HAVE TO BE SO OFFENSIVE ABOUT IT? Part of the reason for CSU's success on the boards this season has come at the offensive end of the floor where the Vikings lead the Horizon League with an average of 12.54 offensive rebounds a game. CSU has two of the top six individuals in offensive rebounds with J'Nathan Bullock (2.21) and Kevin Francis (2.00), ranking third and seventh, respectively.

BIG CROWDS: The 5,352 fans that attended the Jan. 17 Butler game marked the largest crowd in the Wolstein Center since the curtain was added four years ago on the west side to trim the capacity of the building to approximately 8,500. The last time CSU had a larger crowd in the Wolstein Center came on Nov. 29, 2003 when 11,534 saw the Vikings drop an 82-76 decision to North Carolina.

. . . AND THE SEASON AVERAGE IS UP: With at least two games remaining in the Wolstein Center this year, the Vikings are approaching some attendance high marks for the decade. With 42,916 attending the first 13 homes games, CSU is averaging 3,301 per game, the most since 1998-99 when the Vikings played in front of an average of 3,668 fans. CSU stands a good chance of reaching the 50,000 mark for season attendance for the first time since 1998-99.

FINALLY: The win over 12th-ranked Butler on Jan. 17 marked only the second time in school history that the Vikings defeated a ranked opponent and the first during the regular season and the first at home. The only other time that CSU knocked off a ranked team came on March 14, 1986 when it upset 14th-ranked Indiana, 83-79, in an NCAA first round game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y. The Butler win improved CSU to 2-26 all-time against ranked opponents, snapping a 19-game losing streak.

JACKSON & BULLOCK REACH FREE THROW MILESTONE: The junior tandem of Cedric Jackson (116 free throws made) and J'Nathan Bullock (119) hold the distinction of being just the fourth pair of teammates in school history to each make 100 free throws in the same season. The milestone was previously achieved in 2003-04 (Jermaine Robinson, 141, & Omari Westley, 124), 1989-90 (Brian Parker, 119, & Steve Givens, 104) and 1986-87 (Ken McFadden, 177, & Clinton Ransey, 100).

. . . AND AN EVEN BIGGER ACCOMPLISHMENT FOR JACKSON: The 100th free throw made of the season also made Cedric Jackson just the fourth player (and sixth time) in school history to make 100 field goals, 100 free throws and hand out 100 assists in the same season. He joins Damon Stringer (195 FGM, 113 FTM & 108 assists in 1999-00), Ken McFadden (159, 144 & 146 in 1988-89 & 205, 177 & 177 in 1987-88) and Franklin Edwards (265, 134 & 142 in 1980-81 & 253, 131 & 117 in 1979-80). In 28 games, Jackson has made 123 field goals, 116 free throws and handed out 136 assists.

JACKSON ZEROES IN ON SEASON ASSIST CHART: A five-assist effort at Butler last week raised Cedric Jackson's season assist total to 136, tying him with Ron Harris (1976-77) for 10th place on the CSU single season assist chart. Jackson needs one assist to equal ninth place Walt Chavis (137 in 2002-03), six to tie Franklin Edwards (142 in 1980-81) for eighth and 10 to tie Ken McFadden (1988-89) and Eddie Bryant (1985-86) for sixth with 146 assists.

CSU HAS BLOWN PAST LAST YEAR'S RECORD: With a 17-11 overall and 10-6 league record, Cleveland State has significantly improved its record from a season ago. The Vikings enter the weekend with seven more overall and league wins then CSU posted during all of last season. Cleveland State was 10-21 overall and 3-13 in the Horizon League a year ago.

BULLOCK MAKES 63RD CONSECUTIVE START: J'Nathan Bullock enters the week as one of 12 Viking players who have started 50 consecutive games in their career. Bullock, who earned the honor when he started against UIC on Jan. 5, currently ranks seventh on the list with 63 straight starts. He needs three more starts to catch Eddie Bryant (1983-87) and Patrick Tatham (2003-07), who each made 67 straight starts. If Bullock stays healthy, he could catch record-holder Ken McFadden (1985-89), who started 86 straight games, early next year.

A REVERSAL OF FORTUNES: Over the course of the last eight seasons, Cleveland State has recorded its top five season totals of three-point field goals made, including a school-record 198 last year. The record is safe for at least another year as the Vikings enter the week having made just 121 three-pointers in their first 28 games. The 4.32 three-pointers per game is the sixth-lowest season average in the 22 years since the three-pointer was created. The marksmenship isn't much better as CSU's current .295 effort from three-point is the worst in program history, surpassing the previous low of .301 in 1993-94.

. . . BUT THE FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE IS UP: CSU enters the week shooting .436 from the field this season, the highest shooting performance by the Vikings in five seasons. CSU shot .446 as a team in 2002-03.

VIKINGS POST THIRD CONSECUTIVE WINNING MONTH: Despite losing their last three games in January, the Vikings finished the month of January with a 6-3 record. It allowed CSU to post its third consecutive winning month for the first time since the Vikings put together six consecutive wining months between February, 1992 and March, 1993. CSU went 4-3 in November, 4-2 in December and 6-3 in January this year.

. . . AND ARE 3-3 IN FEBRUARY: The streak of consecutive winning months may go down to the wire as CSU enters the week with a 3-3 record this month with two games to play. The streak seemed to be in jeopardy when the Vikings dropped their first two games in February, but consecutive wins over Detroit, Green Bay and Valparaiso allowed CSU to get back into it.

THREE-POINT DEFENSE: The Viking perimeter defense has been outstanding in league games to date as CSU leads the league in three-point field goal defense in conference games. In the 16 games, Viking opponents have shot .303 from behind the arc, making 77 of their 254 three-point attempts. The percentage is 24 points ahead of second-place Green Bay, who has allowed .327 shooting, and the 71 treys allowed is tied with Milwaukee, which has played two less games, for the fewest in the league.

GOING FOR A RARE DOUBLE: Junior Cedric Jackson, who leads the Horizon League in steals (2.64) and is second in assists (4.86), is attempting to become just the fifth player in league history to lead the league in both categories. Jackson's 2.64 steals per game is significantly ahead of Green Bay's Terry Evans (1.88) while his assist total is slightly behind Butler's Mike Green (4.92). Jackson is attempting to join Loyola's Darius Clemens (1980-81) and Earl Brown (1997-98), Detroit's Roy Simms (1982-83) and LaSalle's Paul Burke (1993-94).

. . . BUT DON'T FORGET HIS REBOUNDING: Although he leads the team in assists and steals, the part of Cedric Jackson's performance that has been overlooked this year has been his rebounding. Jackson enters the week ranked second on the team and 16th in the Horizon League averaging 4.8 boards a game. He has turned up his performance over the last nine games, averaging 6.4 rebounds a game, including a career-high 11 against Milwaukee and 10 vs. UIC.

BULLOCK PASSES 1,000 POINT MARK: An 11-point effort in the win over Valparaiso on Jan. 19 allowed junior J'Nathan Bullock to become the 17th player in school history to score 1,000 points in a career. Bullock went over the mark when he scored on a three-point play with 9:39 left. He is the first Viking to accomplish the feat since Jermaine Robinson ended his career in 2003-04 with 1,408 points. Bullock enters the week ranking 13th with 1,141 career points, needing 27 points to pass Dave Kyle (1,168 points from 1974-77) and move into 12th place.

. . . AND BREAKS INTO FREE THROW TOP 10: J'Nathan Bullock is also making his mark on the free throw charts, entering the week ranked sixth in school history in free throws made (324) and seventh in free throws attempted (445). He needs 30 more free throws made to reach fifth place and 26 more attempts to move up into sixth place.

BULLOCK'S FREE THROW IMPROVEMENT CONTINUES: J'Nathan Bullock continues to show improvement at the foul line, going 119-for-142 this season to improve his career free throw percentage to .728 (324-445). He struggled from the line as a freshman, making only 83-of-139 (.597), including just .511 (47-92) in the first 22 games. Bullock improved to .748 last year (122-163) and is fifth in the Horizon League in free throw percentage (.832) this season.

MOORE ENJOYS PLAYING WITH BLOCKS: Junior Chris Moore has added a weapon to his defensive arsenal this year, entering the week ranking fifth in the Horizon League with 27 blocked shots this season. That is quite a total, especially when you consider that in two seasons at UC Santa Barbara, Moore blocked just seven shots (in 30 games).

A'POSTROPHE: Heading into the 2007-08 season, varsity letters in men's basketball have been awarded to 367 different student-athletes. When J'Nathan Bullock earned a letter in 2005-06, he became the first student-athlete with an apostrophe in his first name to earn a letter. Two years later, he is joined by freshman D'Aundray Brown on the squad, giving CSU two players with punctuation marks in their first names. The duo aren't the first with apostrophes in their names though. Those honors go to Bob O'Connell (1954-55), Dan O'Shaughnessy (1962-64) and Mike O'Brien (1964).

NEXT UP: The Vikings remain at the Wolstein Center on Saturday (Feb. 23) to close the home portion of the regular season schedule when CSU hosts Marist at 6:30 p.m. in a game in the O'Reilly Auto Parts ESPNU BracketBusters.