Men’s basketball continue home stand Tuesday versus Buffalo


Michael Porrini, senior guard, covers Randy Davis, senior guard, at the game on Feb.11. The Kent State Flashes win against Ball State, 76-55. Photo by Emily Martin.

Nick Shook

Kent State’s first Mid-American Conference game, against Buffalo, left the Flashes with a sour taste in their mouths.

Kent State traveled to Buffalo Jan. 7, where the program has struggled to win in recent history. In a city where the Flashes have had the least amount of luck, they held a six-point lead with under eight minutes remaining in the second half, but struggled without senior forward Justin Greene, who scored 16 points in only 20 minutes. Greene dealt with tight officiating throughout the night and fouled out with 4:51 left in the game as the Flashes fell to the Bulls, 66-65.

Buffalo’s Javon McCrea led all scorers with 25 points as the Bulls came back to record a home win early in the conference schedule.

The second meeting between Kent State (18-6, 8-3 MAC) and Buffalo (16-6, 9-2 MAC) is likely to be very different, mainly because of one player for the Flashes.

Kent State’s superb sixth man, junior forward Chris Evans, recorded only nine minutes and didn’t score a single point in the Flashes’ Jan. 7 loss at Buffalo. Since the loss, Evans is averaging 23.9 minutes and 12.9 points per game off the bench and has provided plenty of highlight-reel dunks for Kent State, which is in the midst of a six-game win streak.

Senior guard Carlton “Scootie” Guyton, who scored seven points in the Flashes’ loss to Buffalo, has also improved his play as of late and scored 14 points to go along with eight assists Saturday.

“He’s huge. Sometimes he’s the x-factor and can go for 25 [points],” Greene said. “That’s the type of player he is. He had a little slump early, but he’s been in the gym the last couple of days and it’s paying off.”

Greene leads the Flashes’ offense. The senior forward scored 10 of Kent State’s first 19 points in Saturday’s win over Ball State and is making 56 percent of his shots to average 16.1 points in conference games.

However, even with ESPN’s cameras centered on him, he deflected the credit to his teammates for their recent success. One of those teammates, junior guard Randal Holt, made three of his four 3-point attempts Saturday to finish with 13 points.

“Randal is growing up,” Greene said. “He really worked hard in the weight room and worked on his game and was always in the gym shooting. That’s why he’s one of the better shooters in the league right now. He’s playing very well. He’s consistent and he’s doing what he has to do.”

Greene believes that with contributions from Evans, Guyton, Holt, guard Michael Porrini and center Justin Manns, Kent State will be an unattractive opponent for the rest of the MAC.

“We’re going to need everybody, especially the four seniors,” Greene said. “We have to step up every night. If we’re all clicking, it’s going to be a long night for the other team.”

Kent State will not be facing a weak opponent from the MAC West Tuesday night, though. While the Flashes have recorded six straight wins, Buffalo is playing even better. The Bulls have not lost since Jan. 14 and will arrive in Kent looking for their ninth straight victory.

Buffalo is led by McCrea, who averages 15.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. The Bulls also feature Mitchell Watt, a 6-foot-10 forward, and Zach Filzen, who average 14.9 and 11.8 points, respectively. Filzen is widely regarded across the conference as one of its best 3-point shooters and is making 42 percent of his shots from behind the arc in 2011-12.

“They’re good,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “We’re going to have to play very well. We’re going to have to rebound, and we’re going to have to create more turnovers, which has been something that we focus on all the time.”

The Flashes will have the advantage of playing at home on their side Tuesday and will look for their seventh straight conference win. With a victory, the Flashes would move into a tie with Buffalo for second place in the MAC East standings and only a game behind first-place Akron, who still has to travel to Kent at the end of the regular season to face the Flashes.

“We’ve got a tough, tough stretch with the MAC East coming back,” Greene said. “We’ve got Buffalo on Tuesday. That’s going to be a real tough challenge.”

Game time is set for 7 p.m. at the M.A.C. Center and will be broadcast live on SportsTime Ohio.

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected] and @NickShookDKS.