Men’s Basketball looking forward to rematch against Ohio

Sophomore guard Kris Brewer dribbles the ball on Feb. 13. Kent State won against Miami 87-70. Photo by Chloe Hackathorn.

Sophomore guard Kris Brewer dribbles the ball on Feb. 13. Kent State won against Miami 87-70. Photo by Chloe Hackathorn.

Tim Dorst

On Jan. 26, the men’s basketball team trailed the Ohio University Bobcats by a single point with eight seconds remaining in its game at the M.A.C Center. Ohio guard D.J. Cooper missed a 3-point shot from the top of the key. The Flashes, then, collected the rebound and pushed the ball ahead to senior guard Randal Holt.

Holt drove the ball up the court and into the lane before throwing up one of his patented floaters. The ball bounced around the rim and off as the final buzzer sounded. The Flashes fell just short of defeating one of the Mid-American Conference’s top teams, losing by the score of 69-68.

Exactly three weeks removed from that game, the Flashes will have a chance at some redemption when they travel to Athens, Ohio, to take on the Bobcats at 11 a.m. Saturday inside the Convocation Center.

Kent State (14-11, 5-6 MAC) is coming off an 87-70 victory over the Miami Redhawks Wednesday behind another outstanding offensive outing for the team. The Flashes have averaged more than 80 points per game for the last four games and have won three out of those four.

Going into the game against the Bobcats (18-6, 9-1 MAC), Holt said the Flashes feel as if they’ve grown as a team since last time and know what they need to do to come away with the win.

“We’ve got to come and play with a lot of emotion, and a lot of intensity and effort,” Holt said. “Make sure we share the ball and focus a lot on the defensive end and get stops. Just continue what we’ve been doing.”

The Flashes will be playing with a chip on their shoulder, Holt said, after losing a seemingly winnable game to the Bobcats back in January.

“We know OU is a good team,” Holt said. “They beat us earlier in the year in a one-possession game, and we feel like we shouldn’t have lost that game. So we’re going into this game hungry, we fired up and ready to go.”

It will be quite the challenge for the Flashes going against arguably the best offensive team in the MAC. Ohio ranked first in the conference in points per game, field goal percentage and 3-pointers, among other categories.

The Flashes looked like an offensive powerhouse against the Redhawks Wednesday night, but head coach Rob Senderoff said the team can not let the thought of its last game linger into the next.

“Each win is important, and each win you can build off of,” Senderoff said. “But at the same time, you’ve got to go play your next game, and our next game happens to be at Ohio, who’s obviously playing very well.”

The Bobcats have won 10 of their last 11 games, their sole loss in that span coming against MAC East Division leader Akron on Feb. 2. They remained a game and a half behind the Zips in the division standings.

“This game is going to be a very difficult one,” Senderoff said. “I like the way our team is playing. We’ve won three out of four. I like the way we’re playing offensively, but we’re going to have to guard a little bit better with these games coming up.”

The Flashes have five games left in their conference schedules, and a win over Ohio would give them a good push leading into the MAC Tournament. Gaining momentum could be key for the Flashes as the season begins to come to a close.

“I feel like we’re finding ourselves as a team offensively, but that’s not the problems,” Holt said. “As long as we buckle down on defense and limit teams to one shot, I think we’ll be able to hang with anybody in the league.”

Against Miami, Kent State forced 16 turnovers and collected 11 steals while limiting the Redhawks’ offense for most of the game. The Flashes will have to implement the same kind of defensive play Saturday in order to be successful against the Bobcats.

Holt said the Flashes cannot afford to think too much about their earlier loss against the Bobcats and instead must that behind them to focus entirely on this weekend’s games.

“Last game is out the window, we can’t get it back,” Holt said. “There’s nothing we can do now about it. We can just come in and go for the kill. Regardless of how they come at us, pretty or ugly, we want to win the game. That’s how we’ve been doing the last couple games.”

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].