Flashes move to 2-0 on weekend with win over UAB

Cody Erbacher

Senior guard Mike McKee led the Kent State men’s basketball team to victory against the University of Alabama at Birmingham, shooting 7-for-8 from the foul line in the final minute in a 72-65 win tonight.

“I make free throws everyday in practice, it’s just a confidence thing,” McKee said. “Coach Ford even helped me out. He called me over to the side and said ‘Just hold your follow through’.”

McKee, who shot eight of his nine free throws in the last 45 seconds of the game, led the team with 19 points. Junior guard Rodriquez Sherman trailed McKee with a career high 17 points on the night.

“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” Sherman said. “My teammates do a heck of a job at keeping me up because sometimes I can get down on myself. My teammates keep my confidence up, along with the coaching staff.”

With a minute left in regulation, Kent State led by seven points at 66-58. Guard Elijah Millsap made two free throws to make the score 65-60, the closest the Blazers would get to tying the game in the final minute.

Kent State entered halftime with an 11-point lead.

With three seconds left in the half, Singletary inbounded the ball to McKee, who launched a shot from well beyond the arc. The ball rattled around the rim, then fell through the net at the buzzer to give Kent State a 35-24 halftime lead.

“I actually don’t even know where I took the shot from,” McKee said. “I figured three seconds to go I might as well hoist it up there and see if it goes in.”

McKee shot 60 percent (3-for-5) from behind the arc in the first half.

Singletary, who led the team in points during yesterday’s win, only played 14 minutes due to foul trouble. He totaled 2 points for the game.

Kent State team used a 17-4 run out of halftime to propel to a 69-66 win over Samford in its season opener Friday in its first game at the Hispanic College Fund Classic.

“It’s always a relief to get out of the opener,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “These games are not easy. We’re lucky we had the nice run in the second half to push these things open.”

The run finished with a block at the top of the 3-point arc by sophomore forward Justin Greene. Greene passed the ball to freshman point guard Randal Holt, who made an easy breakaway basket to take the score to 51-35 with 13 minutes left in the game.

Samford didn’t go away just yet, however.

With fewer than two minutes remaining, the Bulldogs scored to cut Kent State’s lead to 66-60 after the Flashes had led by as many as 16 points.

The Bulldogs were down six points with two seconds remaining in the game when junior center Andy King was fouled by senior guard Tyree Evans while attempting a three-point shot.

King, who led the Bulldogs with 14 points, made all three attempts to take the score to 69-66, but that was as close as Samford would come as Kent State ran out the final seconds.

Senior guard Chris Singletary made a large presence down low in the game and was a major factor in the Flashes’ victory.

“I took it upon myself to make sure that if we do lose some games that it isn’t because of rebounds,” said Singletary, who led the team with 19 points and seven rebounds. “Down low guys just wasn’t as physical, so I knew I could be more physical with those guys.”

Singletary’s post performance helped him reach the free-throw line ten times where he hit nine shots.

The game started with the Bulldogs running out to a quick 9-0 lead. The Flashes countered with the games’ first lead change from a two-point shot off the hands of Evans.

Nearing the end of the half, Kent State kept pushing. Singletary pounded the ball down low and was fouled. He hit both free throws to tighten the score at 31-32.

The Flashes stole the ball in two straight possessions with less than a minute left but were unable to capitalize on the turnovers.

Samford senior point guard Trey Montgomery finished the first half hitting two free throws to give the Bulldogs a halftime lead at 34-31. Montgomery scored 11 points and picked up eight boards on the night.

Kent State finished the first half shooting just 35.7 percent (10-for-38) from the field, including 1-for-13 from 3-point range. In the game, the Flashes connected on just three 3-pointers on 21 attempts.

Kent State will conclude its three-game weekend series in the Hispanic College Fund Classic against Green Bay tomorrow at 4.

Contact sports reporter Cody Erbacher at [email protected].

Men’s basketball season opener: Kent State vs. Samford