Guyton’s return leads men’s basketball team to victory

Rachel Jones

Final score

Kent State: 69

Ohio University: 66

Game highlights

  • Kent State junior center Justin Greene scored a team-high 18 points.
  • A basket by freshman guard Eric Gaines closed the gap, but two free throws by Guyton with 24.4 seconds left gave the Flashes a 67-66 lead.
  • The game marked the Flashes’ first Mid-American Conference road victory.

Most people would think taking a month off from basketball would make a player rusty or out-of-step.

?But when junior guard Carlton Guyton returned to the court after a suspension, he executed some key plays that helped the Kent State Men’s Basketball team overcome Ohio University 69-66 on Saturday.?

While the game marked the Flashes’ first Mid-American Conference road victory, it also showed Kent State (11-6, 2-1 MAC) could overcome the intense Bobcat crowd.

?“The thing about playing here, probably more so than any other MAC arena, is the crowd is a factor,” said Flashes’ coach Geno Ford. “You can’t game plan for it, but kids have to step up, show some courage and toughness and really focus on the game.”

?The Flashes remained focused enough to finish the half up 32-26.

?But the seesaw battle for the lead continued as Ohio (8-9, 1-2 MAC) pulled ahead 66-64 with 1:59 left in the game.?

A basket by freshman guard Eric Gaines closed the gap, but two free throws by Guyton with 24.4 seconds left gave the Flashes a 67-66 lead.?

“He’s one of our best shooters,” Ford said. “We have several guys we’d trust in that situation, but we were happy he was on the line.”?

Senior guard Rod Sherman said the free throws were a good way to welcome Guyton back to the team after the junior served a five-game suspension for a violation of team rules.

?As if Guyton’s contributions weren’t enough, Gaines knocked the ball away from Ohio’s Ivo Baltic to Sherman, who executed layup with 10 seconds left clinch the Flashes’ win.?

“That was a huge play by Eric Gaines,” Sherman said. “I was surprised it fell into my hands, but I was like, ‘I either have to dunk this or finish it, so I can be a little happy about the game.’ Finishing was the only thing on my mind.”

Sherman finished the game with 13 points, second to junior forward Justin Greene, who led the Flashes with 18.?

Guyton posted nine points in his 28 minutes of play, which Sherman said he was glad to see, especially when junior guard Michael Porrini was benched after fouling out.

?“When (Guyton) wasn’t here and Porrini would foul out, we would be nervous but still stick in and try to gut it out,” Sherman said. “(Guyton) brings so much to the table. He can drive it; he can shoot it.”?

Ford said that even though Saturday was not Guyton’s best performance this season, his solid ball play and crucial free throws were definitely a nice lift for his return.?

“We were missing a good, core player,” Ford explained. “We were 8-3 and beat South Florida (with Guyton playing), and we went 2-3 without him. I wasn’t a math major in my time at OU, but I know enough that 8-3 is better than 2-3.”?

Ford also credits the win to the Flashes’ offensive rebounds, which edged the Bobcats 38-25.?

“We’ve done a good job this year missing a lot of open shots, which has really encouraged us to make good offensive rebound attempts,” Ford said. “(We had to) get extra possessions off the backboard and make it a grind game. We were just fortunate that we got two plays in the end and got to sneak out with a win.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].