Men’s basketball inconsistency, big games from women’s basketball’s Korinek highlight December, January

Cameron Hoover

National Sports

Tagovailoa leads Alabama to national championship

After a first half that saw Alabama starting quarterback Jalen Hurts complete three of his eight passes for just 21 yards and Georgia building a 13-0 lead, Crimson Tide coach (and Kent State alumni) Nick Saban made a gutsy call:

He benched Hurts for someone who hadn’t played a snap against a FBS opponent for three months: Tua Tagovailoa, a freshman out of the same high school in Hawaii that produced Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.

The decision paid off. Tagovailoa led a furious comeback for the Crimson Tide, completing 14 of his 24 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns, including a 41-yard bomb to DeVonta Smith to win the game in overtime.

The 26-23 victory was Alabama’s fifth national title in the last five seasons and the sixth of Saban’s career.

Cavaliers struggling to win as Golden State thrives

After last season’s NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, the two teams seemed on a collision course to meet again in next season’s final round. However, after the trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics and the Cavaliers’ recent run of form, this prediction has been called into question.

Dating back to Christmas, the Cavaliers are 2-7, losers of their last three games by an average of 21.3 points per game. LeBron James could be seen frustrated, yelling at his teammates during a 34-point defeat to the Toronto Raptors, and the team blew a 24-point first-quarter lead against the Indiana Pacers.

Meanwhile, Golden State hasn’t missed a step. The team is 35-9 this season, even as star point guard Stephen Curry has missed extended time due to injury. The Warriors have won seven of their last eight games heading into Monday’s matchup with the Cavaliers in Cleveland.

Kent Sports

Mixed bag for men’s basketball

Inconsistency has plagued Kent State’s men’s basketball team (8-9, 2-2 Mid-American Conference), but the explanation may lie in the team’s home/road splits.

The Flashes are 6-2 at home this season, compared to just 2-7 on the road and at neutral sites. The team scored a big win over the Pac-12’s Oregon State and a solid MAC contender in Central Michigan, but lost on the road to Albany, Northern Illinois and Miami (OH), where the team was down by as many as 29 points in the first half.

Junior guard Jaylin Walker leads the team with 17.1 points per game, followed by junior center Adonis De La Rosa (11.7 ppg) and senior guard Kevin Zabo (11.3 ppg). Junior guard Jalen Avery leads the country with a 7.33 assist-to-turnover ratio.

The team returns to the court at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16, at the M.A.C. Center to host Western Michigan in an attempt to return to .500.

Korinek leads women’s basketball through tough schedule

Kent State’s women’s basketball team (9-8, 2-3 MAC) has traversed a brutal schedule, which has included only four home games and a stretch where the team played three games in as many days, thanks to solid play by Jordan Korinek.

Korinek is averaging 20.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game this season, while shooting 49.6 percent from the field and 83.2 percent from the free-throw line. The senior forward has 10 games this season with 20 points or more, including her current stretch of five straight.

The Flashes received a boost on Dec. 30 with the return of Megan Carter after the sophomore guard sat out the first semester of the season. Since her return, she has averaged 15 points per game, setting career-highs in three of her five games this season.

The team will travel to Bowling Green at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, at the Stroh Center for their next game.

Other sports

Kent State wrestling has a record of 10-6, including solid finishes at the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas and Cleveland State open. Sophomore Tim Rooney has a record of 22-7, including 9-1 in dual meets. The Flashes wrestle again at 7 p.m. Friday at Ohio University in search of the team’s first conference victory.

The Kent State track and field teams won 14 total events, eight for the men and six for the women, at the Doug Raymond Invitational on Jan. 13. Both teams return to action on Friday at home in a dual meet with Akron.

Kent State gymnastics won its first meet of the season Sunday against Centenary College, 195.050-178.875. Senior Rachel Stypinski won four events (bars, beam, floor and all-around), while junior Dara Williams took first place in vault. The Flashes’ next meet is at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, at the M.A.C. Center as Northern Illinois comes to town to open MAC play.

Cameron Hoover is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].