KSU to host Tulsa in NIT first round

Cody Francis

The Kent State men’s basketball team will host Tulsa in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the M.A.C. Center.

Tulsa (23-11, 10-6 Conference USA) is led by senior guard Ben Uzoh, 7-foot center Jerome Jordan and junior guard Justin Hurtt, who average 15.3, 15.2 and 14.2 points per game respectively.

The fourth-seeded Flashes (23-9, 13-3 Mid-American Conference) lost to Ohio University 81-64 in the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament last Thursday.

Kent State coach Geno Ford said the fact that tournament officials seeded his team on par with some national powerhouses says something about Kent State’s regular-season performance.

“When you look at the other four seeds in the NIT, you’ve got UConn (and) North Carolina, (the) defending national champs, getting the same seed in the tournament as we do,” Ford said. “Obviously it makes you feel like the tournament is pretty positive about the season we had.”

The Flashes and Golden Hurricane have had two common opponents this season in Ohio and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Tulsa beat Ohio by one point in December and Kent State beat the Bobcats twice in the regular season before losing to them last Thursday. The Flashes defeated UAB in November, but the Golden Hurricane lost to the Blazers in January.

Kent State is 13-2 at home this season and hasn’t lost at the M.A.C. Center since Jan. 17 against Bowling Green. Ford said while every team plays better at home, the crowd Wednesday will be important for the Flashes to break their eight-year postseason drought.

“Getting to play at home is a great deal for us,” Ford said. “Our kids enjoy playing in front of our fans, and we’ve had great, loyal fan support all year. They’ve been a big part of our success, so hopefully on Wednesday we’ll get a big crowd.

“We haven’t won a postseason game in eight years, so to get a home game in a postseason tournament and have a chance to end an eight-year drought is something the team’s very excited about.”

Tickets for Wednesday’s game are $4 for students, $10 for general admission seats, $15 for lower reserved seats and $20 for chairback seats. For ticket information, call the Kent State ticket office.

Contact sports editor Cody Francis at [email protected].