Akron-Kent rivalry worth more than bragging rights for men’s basketball

Senior+forward+Darren+Goodson+attempts+to+defend+the+ball+from+an+Akron+player+at+the+game+Sunday%2C+Feb.+2%2C+2014.+The+Flashes+are+set+to+face+the+Zips+again+this+Friday%2C+Mar.+7%2C+2014+at+the+University+of+Akron.+It+is+the+last+game+before+the+M.A.C.+Championship.

Senior forward Darren Goodson attempts to defend the ball from an Akron player at the game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. The Flashes are set to face the Zips again this Friday, Mar. 7, 2014 at the University of Akron. It is the last game before the M.A.C. Championship.

Stephen Means II

With the Mid-American Conference tournament being one month away, the Kent State-University of Akron rivalry game has an incentive more than pride and bragging rights.

Kent State (16-7, 7-3 MAC) and Akron (16-7, 7-3 MAC) are currently two of the three teams tied for first place in the MAC East; Bowling Green (15-6, 7-3 MAC) is the third.

For both teams, this season has had its fair share of unexpected news.

Akron’s came when senior forward and star player Demetrius Treadwell was suspended and eventually removed from the team following an altercation. Treadwell was accused of assaulting another student-athlete, but no charges were filed.

The Zips have not let the suspension become a distraction: Akron boasts an undefeated home record using a balanced scoring attack. Junior center Pat Forsythe, with 10.8 points per game, is the only player averaging in double figures. Akron’s backcourt senior Deji Ibitayo, 9.9 points per game, and freshman Noah Robotham, 9.7 points per game, are not far behind.

Akron is coming off a 75-72 victory over team Buffalo.

Kent State has been no stranger to a star missing in action. Redshirt sophomore forward Jimmy Hall, a possible MAC Player of the Year candidate, missed the last two games with mononucleosis and is still questionable for Tuesday. Hall has been the Flashes’ leading scorer, 15.1 points per game, and rebounder, 7.5 per game.

The Flashes are also down to only player guards who are on scholarship. Senior Kris Brewer, 10.7 points per game, is suspended until further notice after breaking team rules, and Junior Kellon Thomas recently had surgery on an orbital bone fracture.

The lack of options has forced coach Rob Senderoff to play seniors Devareaux Manley and Derek Jackson a lot more: Both played 39 minutes in a 61-60 win against Miami.

Tip-off is at 7 p.m., Tuesday at James A. Rhodes Arena. 

Contact Stephen Means II at [email protected].