Men’s basketball heads to Georgia, looks to end two game skid


Freshman forward Raasean Davis tries to grab the rebound from University of Illinois at Chicago’s Jake Wiegand during a game Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. The Flashes won, 78-60.

Ray Strickland

Kent State men’s basketball team will look to snap its two-game losing streak Saturday, matching up against Kennesaw State in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Flashes won their first four games of the season to start the year before dropping their next two games at home inside the M.A.C. Center.

Locking up on defense

One of the biggest reasons for the Flashes 4-0 start was their tenacious defense. Through the first six games of the season, Kent State held its first four opponents to less than 40 percent shooting, while also holding their opponents to 61 points or less.

For the most part, the Kent State defense has been the staple of the team. The Flashes have often looked to defense to notch easy points and spur key offensive runs.

But the defense has been underachieving in the last two games, a big reason why the Flashes will ride a two-game losing streak into Saturday.

So far this season, the Flashes are giving up only 59 points per game on 40 percent shooting from the field.

In the games against Yale and Loyola-Chicago, Kent State allowed 50 percent shooting from the field and from beyond the arc.

The last two games are indicative of how the Flashes do not want to play.

Kent State’s lack of intensity on defense over these last pair of games has contributed to their inability to run shooters off the three-point line.

All coaches and players know great defense is an opportunity to generate offense. The Flashes defense did just that throughout the first four games.

When the Flashes play defense, offense follows.

During Kent State’s hot 4-0 start, the Flashes’ opponents shot about 35 percent and shot below 20 percent from three. The Flashes registered 5 steals per game as well as outrebounded opponents by 28.

In turn, the Flashes’ offense was at its best during its best defensive stretch of play, as Kent State shot nearly 50 percent from the field and from three-point range because of it.

Scouting Kennesaw

The true resolve and measure of a team is always displayed when they play on the road in a hostile environment. The Flashes can right the ship this weekend by locking up on defense and not allowing teams to get open shots.

Kennesaw State might not be as talented as Kent State on paper, but any team can win once the game is played.

The Owls are 3-5 on the season, but own a spotless 2-0 home record inside the Convocation Center.

Junior guard Yonel Brown and junior forward Nigel Pruitt lead the Owls in scoring as the team’s two best players. Brown is averaging 14 points per game and Pruitt is averaging 12.

The Flashes will have to run the Owls off of the three-point line, or it could be a long day. The owls are attempting nearly 25 game, converting on 6.8 per game.

Key players to watch for

Redshirt sophomore Jimmy Hall has been playing some of his best basketball and is quietly emerging as one of the best players in the Mid-American Conference.

Hall is leading the team the in points (15 per game), rebounds (7.0 per game) and field goal percentage (58 percent).

Hall will have to step up for the Flashes after tying his lowest scoring total this season against Loyola-Chicago, in which he recorded just 10 points, five shy of his season average.

Senior guard Kris Brewer and redshirt senior guard Derek Jackson are two of the leaders on this team. Not only are they two of three players averaging in double-figure scoring this season, but they are also two of Kent State’s best defenders.

Jackson and Brewer are averaging 11.8 points per game and 11.3 points per game, respectively.

Brewer and Jackson will also take the lead in locking up on defense to put the Flashes in line to win Saturday.

Contact Ray Strickland [email protected].