Flashes travel to defending national champion Kansas

Chris Gates

KSU faces major test against traditional power

The Kent State men’s basketball team will travel to Kansas tonight for a 9 p.m. tip-off at one of the most tradition-rich programs in the nation.

Though the Flashes’ program is tied with Kansas in recent 20-win seasons – 20 wins or more in each of the last 10 years – that’s about where the similarities end. The Jayhawks are the defending national champions and are coming off their 13th trip to the NCAA Final Four.

Tonight’s meeting will also represent the second straight game for the Flashes (3-2) against a Big 12 opponent, as well as the third straight game against a power conference.

Kent State coach Geno Ford and his team are coming off two straight losses over the weekend to Illinois and Texas A&M at the South Padre Island Invitational in Texas. With one day to regroup and prepare for Kansas, he realizes tonight’s game will be no easy task.


Kent State (3-2) vs.

Kansas (4-1)

When: 9 p.m.

Where: Allen Fieldhouse

(Lawrence, Kan.)


Radio: www.BlackSquirrelRadio.com and WNIR 100.1 FM

“The problem is with our schedule (is that) you can’t do much since there’s not much time,” Ford said. “(Yesterday was) a mental preparation day. Guys are sore and banged up, but the reality is that Kansas could care less.”

The Flashes are focused on putting each game behind them, win or lose. They followed that idea after their 69-63 loss against Illinois on Saturday. That resulted in Kent State leading for much of the game against Texas A&M, but the Flashes surrendered the lead late in the second half to fall to the Aggies, 77-71.

“I put (the Illinois) game behind me and went out (and) played with a little more confidence and aggressiveness (against A&M),” junior center Brandon Parks said.

“We had another team on the ropes and just didn’t put them away. We need to work on what it takes to put teams away and not let them get back into the game.”

The Jayhawks are coming off a tough loss of their own. In the College Basketball Experience Classic championship game last Tuesday, Kansas lost 89-81 in overtime to Syracuse. The Jayhawks responded to that loss by beating Coppin State 85-53 Friday.

The key players who made the most recent history for Kansas’ program with last year’s national title are gone as well, and the Jayhawks are looking for leaders. Junior guard Sherron Collins leads Kansas, averaging 18.2 points a game.

An advantage for Kansas is that the Jayhawks are at home: at Allen Fieldhouse, one of the most difficult places for opposing teams to play. Kansas is 204-17 at the 16,300-seat venue over the last 15 seasons, which will test the Flashes’ ability to perform under pressure.

This, Ford said, is why the Flashes scheduled tough, early-season games.

“What we tried to do with this schedule was, ‘OK, maybe we’re not giving our kids as many opportunities for marquee wins,'” Ford said. “Instead of only having four or five, (we’re) trying to get us to the point where we have seven (or) eight games so that if you get beat (in) a couple – if you go 4-4 in those games – on Selection Sunday they’re saying, ‘Great win, great win.’

“There’s just not a night where we can just show up and win.”

Contact sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].