Hall hits 1,500 career point plateau in win over Buffalo

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Kent State senior forward Jimmy Hall walks of the court at Alumni Arena in Buffalo, New York on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. Kent State won 77-69. 

Nick Buzzelli

During his postgame radio show with Ty Linder on 640WHLO, men’s basketball coach Eric Haut paused for a moment when asked if he remembered the last time that Kent State won on the road at the University at Buffalo.

Although Haut was unable to pinpoint the exact year – until Linder jogged his memory – he remembered that former Flashes Chris Evans and Randal Holt combined for 52 points in that game, an 80-68 win.

That was over four years ago and, until Tuesday night, Kent State had been winless in its previous three trips to UB’s Alumni Arena.

But, just like it did on Jan. 16, 2013, the Golden Flashes received balanced scoring from their top forward-guard tandem.

Redshirt senior Jimmy Hall and sophomore guard Jaylin Walker went off for a combined 46 points, 30 of which came in the second half and Kent State (16-12, 8-7 Mid-American Conference) cruised to a 77-69 win over Buffalo (15-13, 9-6 MAC), its third in a row.

“Jimmy kind of sets the table for everybody and our guards are doing a really good job playing inside out, which is a big emphasis for us,” Haut said in the postgame radio interview. “ … They had 21 points off turnovers in our first meeting at our place and tonight they had eight. To me, that’s the difference in the game.”

Hall became the eighth player in program history to eclipse the 1,500 career point plateau in the win by recording a double-double (26 points, 10 rebounds) in 37 minutes of play. Walker contributed 22 points on a 4-12 performance from beyond the arc.

Buffalo was paced by Blake Hamilton’s 22 points.

Walker gave Kent State the lead for good after he broke a 49-49 tie with a three pointer from the wing midway through the second half and hit a midrange jumper on the following possession to extend it to five.

The Bulls would get within five with 1:30 remaining on a Hamilton layup, but the Golden Flashes went 8-12 from the free throw line during that stretch to seal the victory.

While they trailed by one at halftime, the Flashes outscored Buffalo, 45-36, during the final frame. This late offensive surge was how UB managed to pull away from a tightly contested opening half the first time these two met on Jan. 17 at the M.A.C. Center, resulting in an 82-69 Bulls’ win.

“Jaylin Walker made some huge shots, Jalen Avery made some huge shots, Mitch Peterson made some huge shots. It’s a team deal. Adonis De La Rosa big minutes in the second half,” head coach Rob Senderoff told ESPN3 following the game. “We just wanted to make this a grind-it-out game. We were able to do that against a really good team who’s incredibly well-coached.”

Despite the win, Kent State still sits in fourth in the Mid-American Conference East Division standings, one game behind Buffalo and two back from Ohio University – the team the Flashes take on Saturday night at home – for second place.

Though two of the final three games of the regular season are against teams with better records than Kent State, Haut questioned why the Flashes can’t be in consideration for a top seed heading into the MAC Tournament. 

“I say, ‘Why not us. Why not us.’ If we just keep doing what we do, what we’ve been doing each game, we’ll let the chips fall where they may,” he said. “But we’re right there. We got a lot more to play for here the rest of the year.”

Nick Buzzelli is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected]