Men’s basketball led by Pippen over Detroit Mercy

Kent+State+junior+Danny+Pippen+%5B5%5D+shoots+the+basketball+against+Akron+at+James+A.+Rhodes+Arena+on+Friday%2C+Mar.+6%2C+2020.+Kent+State+lost+79-76.

Kent State junior Danny Pippen [5] shoots the basketball against Akron at James A. Rhodes Arena on Friday, Mar. 6, 2020. Kent State lost 79-76.

The Kent State men’s basketball team got off to a slow start against the University of Detroit Mercy tonight, finding itself down eight points with eight fouls and seven turnovers after just seven minutes.

But senior forward Danny Pippen, the team’s only four-year player, carried the load while his teammates got comfortable.

Pippen, a Detroit native, would score 23 to lead Kent State (2-1) to an 80-66 win against a solid Detroit Mercy (0-3) squad out of the Horizon League.

Detroit may be winless, but the Titans stuck around with Notre Dame and No. 4 Michigan State last week.

Pippen’s 23 points came in just 26 minutes on the court. Pippen’s minutes have been slightly limited as he continues to struggle with long-term knee issues.

Kent State’s size and depth proved too much for Detroit, particularly inside the paint. The Flashes outrebounded their opponents 45-30, including 10 offensive rebounds, and outscored the Titans 32-10 in the paint.

That inside dominance was led by senior forward Justyn Hamilton and junior forward Gabe O’Neal who would have 10 points and 13 rebounds and 12 points four rebounds, respectively. Pippen was second to Hamilton with seven rebounds and added a team-high two blocks.

Kent State was also effective from outside, shooting 46.2 percent from 3-point range, hitting 12 from beyond the arc.

Pippen led with four 3 pointers, senior guard Mike Nuga had three and sophomore guard Giovanni Santiago added two on just three attempts from deep.

The offense ran through Santiago and Nuga up top. Despite a lackluster first half Nuga would finish with 15 points and a team-leading four assists while Santiago added eight points and three assists.

The two also played the most minutes for their team. Nuga stayed in for 33 minutes and Santiago found himself on the floor for 37 minutes.

Also adding three assists were Pippen and junior guard Malique Jacobs. Jacobs struggled shooting though, scoring only three points while going 1-4 from the floor, but adding six rebounds.

The Flashes committed 20 fouls and the Titans took advantage, shooting 90 percent from the line and scoring 18 points. But that was not enough to overcome Kent State’s offensive power.

Kent State will have some rest this week and is then back in action on Sunday, Dec. 13 against another Horizon League foe in Northern Kentucky University.

Owen is a sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]

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