SATURDAY’S GAME: The RedHawks host conference opponent Kent State University this Saturday, Jan. 7. This is Miami’s 15th game of the season, and tip time is set for 3:30 p.m. at Millett Hall in Oxford, Ohio. This contest is part of the One Miami Celebration. Fans can tune in on ESPN3 or by listening to one of Miami’s game day radio affiliates which consists of WFMG-FM 101.3 (Richmond, Ind.), WMOH-AM 1450 (Hamilton, Ohio), and WONE-AM 980 (Dayton, Ohio).
ABOUT KENT STATE: Head coach Rob Senderoff enters his 12th season with the Golden Flashes. Last season Coach Senderoff was named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year after leading Kent State to a 23-11 record and making it to the MAC Championship game. Kent State currently stands at 11-3 after most recently defeating Western Michigan 80-72. This season, Kent State’s only losses consist of away games. The three losses come from teams that are currently on the Associated Press (AP) men’s college basketball poll; this includes the University of Houston, Gonzaga University, and the College of Charleston. Guard Sincere Carry (16.3), guard Malique Jacobs (12.5), and forward Miryne Thomas (10.8) currently lead them in scoring.
THE SERIES WITH THE GOLDEN FLASHES: Miami and Kent State first faced off more than 70 years ago, dating back to 1948. This Saturday, will mark the 152nd meeting between Miami and Kent State. The RedHawks hold a 54-19 home record, 35-35 away record, and 3-5 neutral record when facing the Golden Flashes.
UP NEXT: Miami continues conference play against Buffalo Tuesday, Jan. 10. Tip time is set for 7 p.m. in Oxford, Ohio.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN RECAP: In the 14th game of the season and conference opener, Miami (6-8) fell to Central Michigan (6-8) 68-56 at McGuirk Arena. Morgan Safford led the RedHawks with 20 points. Anderson Mirambeaux scored 18 points and added 11 rebounds. Jesse Zarzuela led the Chippewas with 19 points.
LOCKED IN AT THE LINE: Miami University currently ranks fifth in the nation in free throw shooting percentage. As a team, the RedHawks are shooting 80.1%. Mekhi Lairy leads the way (90.3%), ranking 22nd in the nation and second in the MAC. Anderson Mirambeaux finds himself ranked 145th nationally and 11th in the MAC (81.8%).
MEKHI LAIRY: Among the returners is fifth-year senior Mekhi Lairy, who set Miami’s single-season free-throw percentage record a year ago and currently holds the career free-throw percentage record. Lairy, who averaged 13.6 ppg in 2021-22, posted his 1,000th career point last season and is on pace to break Miami’s career games played record this season. Lairy now has 1,434 career points. He is in 12th place on the program’s all-time list after passing Julian Mavunga, Wayne Embry, David Scott, and Tim Pollitz versus Wright State. Lairy also surpassed Randy Ayers on the career assists list to take the ninth spot all-time against Calumet College. This season against Georgia, Lairy set a new career-high in points (34) and produced the first 30-point game for a RedHawk since Mar. 9, 2020 (Nike Sibande, 31). He has also recorded two other 30-point scoring performances against Wright State and Bellarmine this year.
STAND AND DELIVER: One of the most efficient free throw shooters in the conference, fifth-year senior guard Mekhi Lairy ranked first in the MAC in free-throw percentage in the 2021-22 season. Lairy hit 29 consecutive free throws from Nov. 27 through Jan. 29. He was perfect from the free-throw line in 18 of the 25 games where he attempted a free-throw shot. His .915 (2021-22) free throw percentage ranks first on Miami’s single-season list and his .861 career free-throw percentage also ranks first. Mekhi has started the 2022-23 season 65-72 from the free throw line.
MABREY MAGIC: After returning to the starting lineup versus Bellarmine, Ryan Mabrey knocked down the biggest shot of his collegiate career. With 18 seconds left in the game, Mabrey scored the game clenching three-point shot to take a 69-65 lead over Bellarmine. This propelled the RedHawks to their first road victory of the season.
SAFFORDS RETURN: Since returning from injury, Morgan Safford has started in every game he’s played. In the last seven games he has averaged 15.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game. In his second game back from injury, he set a new career-high 26-points against Jackson State to lead the RedHawks to a 95-78 win.
SHOWING OUT: Against Jackson State, six RedHawks put up double-figures in scoring for the first time since Nov. 23, 2021. This included Morgan Safford (26), Ryan Mabrey (15), Billy Smith (14), Julian Lewis (13), Anderson Mirambeaux (12), and Mekhi Lairy (11). Overall, Miami shot 60% (33-55) from the field. The Red and White also shot 50% (14-28) from the three-point line. Each shooting percentage was the most for a RedHawk team since Nov. 13, 2021. Against Calumet College, the RedHawks shot a season-high 59.3% from beyond the arc.
DEFENSIVE STAND: In the second game of the season against Goshen College Miami forced 27 turnovers. This is the most for a RedHawk opponent since Nov. 17, 2015 (Kenyon, 24 turnovers). Miami recorded 18 steals (second highest in program history), led by freshman Billy Smith with six total.
NEW FACES, NEW PLACES: Two RedHawks recorded double-doubles in Miami’s first win of the season versus Goshen College. Sophomore transfer Julian Lewis made his season debut, tying his career-high of 17 points and setting a new career-high of 10 rebounds. Freshman Billy Smith recorded 11 points, 12 rebounds, six steals, and four assists. This year the RedHawks boast five freshmen, three sophomores, three juniors, three seniors, and a fifth-year senior.
INCOMING TALENT: Julian Lewis is a guard from William & Mary where he averaged 7.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. He recorded a career-high of 17 points versus Delaware and a career-high of eight assists against Valparaiso. As a freshman, Lewis was named to the CAA All-Rookie Team. This season Lewis has averaged 10.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.4 assists.
Morgan Safford is a guard from Wofford College. During his tenure he averaged 7.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. He recorded his previous career-high 21 points versus Coastal Carolina as a redshirt freshman. During his first campaign, Safford was named to the 2020-2021 Southern Conference All-Freshman Team. He was named a captain at the beginning of the season for the RedHawks. This season Safford has averaged 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
Anderson Mirambeaux is a forward from Cleveland State University. While attending he averaged 1.5 pts, 1.7 rebounds, and 0.7 assists with the Vikings. Prior to Cleveland State, Mirambeaux attended Trinity Valley Community College. At TVCC he averaged 13.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.1 assists. He was named a captain at the beginning of the season for the RedHawks. In Anderson Mirambeaux’s first game with Miami, he set a career-high 27 points. In the game versus Jackson State, he also set a career-high in assists with seven. Up to this point, Mirambeaux is averaging 12.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists.
COURTESY MIAMI ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS