Men’s basketball loses to No. 24 Florida

Rachel Jones

The Kent State men’s basketball game at Florida last night came down to 3-pointers.

Five successful 3-pointers in the first half left the Flashes wrestling the No. 24 Gators for the lead, but nine failed attempts in the second half gave Kent State too much of a deficit as the top-25 powerhouse coasted to a 65-52 win.

Junior guard Carlton Guyton scored first in the game with a 3-pointer less than two minutes into the first half.

Senior guard Rod Sherman sank one and sophomore guard Randal Holt sank two more 3-pointers.

After 13 lead changes, the Flashes (7-3) finished the first half with a 32-27 deficit.

The Gators (7-2) returned to the court with three dunks in five minutes by senior forward Alex Tyus, who led Florida with 20 points.

“We really tried to focus on rebounding, and we did a little better (than we did against UAB),” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “But (Florida’s Vernon) Macklin was a horse down there and, at times, too much for us.”

Macklin finished the game with 19 points and eight rebounds.

“When they come out and try to get it inside to Macklin, they are hard to defend,” Ford said. “Sometimes, at least in other games, (Florida hasn’t) been as possessed or poised to get it into Macklin. Today they were.”

While Ford said the team needed a stronger interior defense, the Flashes also missed several key scoring opportunities.

With 16:40 on the clock in the second half, freshman forward Robert Johnson missed two-straight dunk attempts from right beneath the basket.

“We got the ball on top of the basket quite a bit but just really didn’t get it in and didn’t score,” Ford said.

Knowing how well 3-pointers worked in the first half, the Flashes attempted 11 in the second half.

But Guyton was the only player to successfully sink two of them, and Kent State failed to recapture the lead at any point in the second half.

Guyton and junior forward Justin Greene led the team with 14 points against the Gators. Guyton sunk four shots from behind the arc.

During the next game, Ford said he wants to see the post players finish more efficiently and all of the Flashes get some of the tougher rebounds in traffic.

The Flashes host South Florida at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, and the game will air on ESPNU. This is the first time a Big East team will play at the M.A.C. Center.

“We’re going to have to play as physical on Sunday as we played today,” Ford said. “Hopefully, the rebounding will swing in our favor. At the offensive end, if we keep moving the ball, we’ll be OK.”

Contact sports reporter Rachel Jones at [email protected].