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The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


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Men’s basketball second-half struggles snap MAC winning streak

Brittany Lucia
Chris Payton Jr. on defense during the game on Nov. 30, 2023.

Kent State was looking to build on a three-game Mid-American Conference win streak but was halted in Athens by losing to Ohio 63-57.

On Jan. 16, the Bobcats (14-12, 8-5 MAC) defeated KSU 71-64 and have now swept the season series for the first time since 2013. 

Junior forward VonCameron Davis and sophomore guard Jalen Sullinger led the Flashes (13-13, 6-7 MAC) in scoring with 14 points each. Redshirt senior guard Giovanni Santiago led the game with four assists.

Kent State’s 57 points scored is the fewest in a conference game and third time scoring fewer than 60 points this season.

The game was tightly contested in the first half as both teams traded baskets.

Kent State shot 36% from the field while making five three-pointers to build a 33-27 advantage heading into the locker room. 

KSU is now 11-5 when leading at halftime.

The second half brought on shooting woes for the Flashes as they shot just 8-30 from the field while only shooting 5-8 from the line.

Ohio utilized the free throw line to decrease the deficit, getting to the line 18 times and converting on 16. 

Kent State tallied its fewest second-half points (24) in a conference game this season and was outscored by 12 points.

Graduate student forward Chris Payton Jr. chipped in with nine points and six rebounds off the bench. 

As a team, KSU shot 32% from the field and got to the free-throw line 12 times. The Bobcats shot 35% from the field and got to the line 24 times. 

When shooting under 50%, Kent State is 0-6.

Next up, Kent State will head to rival city Akron for a conference matchup on Friday at 6 p.m.

The Zips (19-7, 11-2 MAC) defeated KSU 77-71 on Jan. 19 as Santiago led the team with 16 points, and guard Ali Ali and forward Enrique Freeman each scored 23 points for Akron.

The Zips come into the contest with the No. 1 defense in the MAC (64 points allowed), and KSU is 1-7 when scoring less than 70 points.

The all-time series is 83-81 advantage KSU, and under coach Rob Senderoff, the program is 13-18 overall and 3-9 inside James A. Rhodes Arena. 

Matthew Franos is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

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