Men’s basketball stays focused

Cody Erbacher

Flashes take on Ball State tonight

Flashes take on Ball State tonight

Over the course of their seven-game winning streak, the Kent State men’s basketball team has shown it knows how to win close games.

Three of the games on the winning streak have been decided by less than 10 points, including a one-point win over Western Michigan.

“To be fair, we’ve found a way to win the close ones,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “The nights we weren’t as sharp, we’ve still won and that’s what you have to do to keep streaks going.”

After losing back-to-back games against Miami and Bowling Green at home, the Flashes (17-7, 8-2 Mid-American Conference) beat two powerhouses in Buffalo and Akron to start the streak, which has put them in first place in the MAC East division.

During the streak, Kent State has shot 25-for-44 from three-point range, including four games where the Flashes shot 65 percent or better.

Senior center Brandon Parks said the team has been doing better because of hustle.

“Before the seven-game winning streak, I don’t think we had a lot of guys diving on balls, playing grimy and playing as hard as Kent State is used to playing,” Parks said. “In the MAC, if you do a couple extra hustle plays like that, a lot of times that determines the outcome of the game.”

Ball State (12-10, 6-4 MAC) is the Flashes’ next challenge.

Ford said the Flashes are not focusing on any other team except for Ball State. He said if the players start to think ahead and worry about a Saturday game, they end up losing the Wednesday game.

“We haven’t talked about anything but Ball State,” Ford said. “This is going to be a tough game for us.”

With only five games left in the season, it could be easy for Kent State to think about winning-out.

“We’ve only got three weeks left for us in the regular season,” Ford said, “and we’d like to be able to play well, but we just got to win the next one.”

If the Flashes can manage a win against Ball State, it will be the second straight year Kent State will sweep the MAC West.

Kent State is on a 16-game winning streak against MAC West opponents. The last loss was against Toledo on Feb 2, 2008.

But the Cardinals will not go away without a fight.

Ball State was on a four-game winning streak until they lost to Akron last Saturday.

Leading the Cardinals on offense is Jarrod Jones, who was the 2009 MAC Freshman of the Year, with 12.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, followed by Jauwan Scaife, who averages 10 points per game.

Contact sports reporter Cody Erbacher at [email protected].