Nail-biter games make this team fun to watch

Cody Erbacher

It’s just fun to watch Kent State basketball this season.

From the start, the Flashes have displayed talent that has been unseen to this point of the Geno Ford era. Yet, the talent that opposed them at the M.A.C. Center, excluding Robert Morris, hasn’t been up to par before Friday’s game.

Although inexperience and a lack of team chemistry has nearly handed the Flashes multiple losses this season that should have been easy wins, the talented roster, which has a deep lineup with players able to threaten 20 points any given night, has led Kent State (6-1) to its best record since the 2002-03 season.

But C.J. McCollum, who was the hometown boy on the visiting Lehigh Mountain Hawks roster, showed one of the most dominant performances the M.A.C Center has ever seen, finishing with a career-high 42 points.

Or a little more than half of Lehigh’s total points.

It was the first time Kent State had to defend its undefeated home win streak, now at 12 wins.

It was the first time Kent State scored 80 points in front of a home crowd this season.

And it was the first time Kent State showed it could compete against a guard who looked like one of the most explosive athletes playing collegiate basketball this season against the Flashes defense.

Rod Sherman, who had the duty of guarding McCollum late in the game, said McCollum had been using a little push-off move the whole game in order to provide some open shots on offense.

It’s a move most offensive players use and most defensive players complain about.

After Sherman alerted the referee, it was only a matter of time until McCollum was called for a charge.

Unfortunately for Lehigh, the charge was called at the worst possible time. It was called as the Mountain Hawks were down 4 points with 24.8 seconds remaining. Kent Sate went on to win 80-75.

McCollum fans witnessed a sophomore guard, reigning from Glen Oak High School, score the most points against the Flashes in 20 years.

Kent State coach Geno Ford nicknamed the 6-foot 3-inch guard “Mission Impossible.”

Fitting. Because for most of the game, the Kent State defense had no answer for McCollum.

And if it wasn’t for Sherman’s displaying some late-game defensive heroics, the Flashes could have easily finished with a loss instead of a 5-point victory.

But Sherman, along with his supporting cast, were able to defeat Lehigh, and McCollum, who finished with a career-high 42 points in 37 minutes of playing time, in Friday’s game.

And because of that, Kent State will continue to be fun to watch.

Contact Cody Erbacher at [email protected].