Miami Men’s Basketball News: RedHawks Face No. 1 Toledo in MAC Tournament Quarterfinal Thursday at 11:00 am



THURSDAY’S GAME: Miami opens its stint in the 2023 Mid-American Conference Tournament with a quarterfinal match-up with No. 1 seed University of Toledo Thursday, Mar. 9. The RedHawks play the first game of the day and it tips off at 11 a.m. Fans can tune in on ESPN+ 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 TOLEDO: Tod Kowalczyk enters his 13th season as the head coach of the Rockets. Under his guidance, Toledo has reached 20 or more wins six times in the last nine years. Coach Kowalczyk recently won MAC Coach of the Year in the 2020-21 season. Prior to joining the Rockets in April of 2010, he spent eight seasons as the head coach of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Toledo is currently 25-6 and hold a 16-2 record in conference play. The Rockets are on a 15 game winning streak and finished the regular season with a 87-81 win over Ball State. Guard RayJ Dennis (19.4), forward JT Shumate (16.5) and forward Setric Millner Jr. (15.9) currently lead the team in scoring. Combined, these three are top-15 scorers in the MAC. This year their team is averaging 85.7 points per game on 49.6 percent shooting and have held their opponents to 76.1 points per game. The team also averages 15.3 assists and 34.6 rebounds in each game they play.

THE SERIES WITH THE ROCKETS: Miami and Toledo first faced off 102 years ago, dating back to 1921. This Thursday will mark the 137th meeting between both teams. In the series, Miami holds a 42-22 home record, 22-43 away record and 4-3 neutral site record. The Rockets have taken the last 19 games versus the RedHawks. The Red and White last defeated Toledo 68-66 in February of 2011. 

Miami vs. TOLEDO in the mac tournament (4-4)
1984    W    51-42    Rockford, Ill.    Semifinal
1986    W    93-76    Rockford, Ill.    Semifinal
1990    W    108-80    Detroit, Mich.    Quarterfinal
1991    L    59-70    Detroit, Mich.    Quarterfinal
1996    L    55-75    Toledo, Ohio    Semifinal
2007    W    58-53    Cleveland, Ohio    Semifinal
2012    L    53-60    Toledo, Ohio    1st Round
2018    L    69-71    Cleveland, Ohio    Quarterfinal

MIAMI IN THE QUARTERFINALS: The RedHawks post a 16-15 record in MAC Tourney quarterfinal games. Miami has advanced to the quarterfinals in six of the last eight years, including five of the last six MAC Tournaments.

UP NEXT: With a win, Miami would advance to the semifinals against the winner of the No. 5 Ohio/No. 4 Ball State match-up on Friday, March 10. The RedHawks would play in the first game tipping off at 5 p.m. 

BUFFALO RECAP: The Miami University men’s basketball team dropped a 68-63 decision against Buffalo on Friday evening. Anderson Mirambeaux led the RedHawks (12-19, 6-12 MAC) with a game-high 18 points, while Morgan Safford scored an additional 14 points and a team-high five rebounds. Mekhi Lairy added 11 points and added a game-high seven assists. Isaiah Adams led the Bulls (15-16, 9-9 MAC) with a team-high 16 points.
3. REDHAWK TRIO: This season the RedHawks have three of the top 20 scorers in the MAC. This consists of team captains Mekhi Lairy (17.4, 4th overall), Morgan Safford (15.2, 13th overall) and Anderson Mirambeaux (14.2, 18th overall). Combined, the trio scores 47 of Miami’s 74 points per contest. 

LAIRY LEGEND: 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 broke Miami’s career games played record this season. Lairy now has 1,731 career points. He is in fourth place on the program’s all-time scoring list after passing Eric Newsome (1984-88) against Ohio on Feb. 25. On Feb. 14 versus Toledo, Lairy surpassed Jamie Mercurio (1989-92) to move into the number three spot in career assists. 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 this season against Wright State and Bellarmine. He was named MAC Player of the Week on Feb. 27 after averaging 20 points, four boards, and four assists to spark Miami to a pair of key wins over BGSU and rival Ohio.

CHART CLIMBER: Fifth year guard Mekhi Lairy is climbing several Miami career top 10 lists and continues to climb the points scored list. Here is where he stands entering Miami’s next game:

• Free Throw Percentage: .873 (1st all-time)
• Games Played: 150 (1st all-time)
• 3-Point FG: 196 (5th, 2 away from tying No. 4)
• Assists: 439 (2nd, 190 away from tying No. 1)
• Scoring: 1,731 (4th, 97 away from tying No. 3)

LOCKED IN AT THE LINE: Miami University currently ranks 10th in the nation in free throw shooting percentage. As a team, the RedHawks are shooting 78%. Mekhi Lairy leads the way (91.9%), ranking fourth in the nation and first in the MAC. Anderson Mirambeaux ranks 13th in the MAC (77.9%) and Morgan Safford is currently listed at 15th in the MAC (76.4%).

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 .873 career free-throw percentage also ranks first. This season Lairy has went 124-135 from the free throw line. He has been perfect from the line in 21 of the 29 games where he has attempted a free-throw shot. 

SAFFORD SHOW: In his first year with Miami, Morgan Safford has already recorded over five 20-point games. Safford has also recorded the most double-doubles on the team this season at four total. He ranks sixth in the MAC in total double-doubles this year. So far he has set career-highs in points, rebounds and assists. Despite dealing with an injury early in the season, he set what was his previous career-high 26-points against Jackson State to lead the RedHawks to a 95-78 win. Against Miami’s rival, Safford put up 24 points, five rebounds and four assists to help Miami defeat Ohio. 

WHAT MAKES ANDERSON MIRAMBEAUX UNIQUE: In its 2022-23 season opener, Miami Men’s Basketball started a post player who averaged all of 1.5 points per game last year with Cleveland State University. Anderson Mirambeaux, a 6-foot-8, 305-pound senior, had never played more than 15 minutes in a Division I basketball game before transferring to join the RedHawks. In his debut wearing the Red and White against Evansville on November 7, Mirambeaux dominated. Mirambeaux’s career night might have come as a shock to nearly every person in Millett Hall that evening, but associate head coach Rob Summers wasn’t surprised at all by Mirambeaux’s 27-point outburst. Summers, who had worked with Mirambeaux at CSU last season before joining Travis Steele‘s new staff in Oxford, understood what the big man was capable of. For more on the story, check out his Front Row Feature

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. Mabrey has four older siblings, and they all played college basketball. Between them, they have made more than 1,000 career three-pointers (and counting). For more background on Mabrey, check out his Front Row Feature

FRESH ON THE SCENE: This year the RedHawks boast five freshmen, three sophomores, three juniors, three seniors and a fifth-year senior. 

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 5.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 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 15.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 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. This season Mirambeaux is averaging 14.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists.