Flashes look for redemption

Doug Gulasy

Kent State sophomore guard Mike McKee passes the ball during a game against Xavier Nov. 23. The Flashes were unable to defeat the Musketeers as they suffered a 78-65 loss at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The game was part of the Chicago Invita

Credit: DKS Editors

Not a lot of teams come into the M.A.C. Center and defeat the Kent State men’s basketball team.

In Jim Christian’s six seasons as Kent State coach, the Flashes are 59-14 at home, a winning percentage of .808.

Last season, the Flashes went 11-2 at the M.A.C. Center. One loss came to rival Akron, but the other came to a surprising team – Youngstown State, which defeated the Flashes 62-58 Dec. 22 at the M.A.C. Center.

“They came in here and beat us – bottom line,” Christian said. “I was disappointed with how we played, but they beat us. And we need to understand that if we don’t come out and play every night, it doesn’t make a difference who it is, whether it’s Youngstown State or anybody else, we’re going to get beat.”

The Flashes will get their chance to repay the Penguins tonight. They play at Youngstown State at 7:35 p.m.

“We understand that it’s time for us to go in their building and try to get a win, just like they did with us last year,” junior forward Julian Sullinger said. “We’re just going to take this game as any other game, but we are going to be pretty fired up because last year they got us at home.”

Sullinger said last year’s loss came partly because the Flashes weren’t entirely focused after losing by seven to Duke just days earlier and partly because Youngstown State played a great game.

He said the loss helped reinforce that no team can be taken lightly.

“Any team can beat any team on any given night,” Sullinger said. “That showed this year (with) Michigan State losing to a Division II team (Grand Valley State), Ohio State doing the same (to Findlay) and even in football, Michigan losing to Appalachian State. I think this year really helped us out in learning that every game, you’ve got to come focused (and) you’ve got to come ready to play or you can lose.”

To beat Youngstown State, the Flashes will have to do what the Penguins did last year and win on the road.

This season, the Flashes have a road record of 1-1; last season’s road mark was 7-8. Christian said it’s never easy to play a team on the road and that “anytime you can walk away with a win, you’ve done something really special.

“You’re going into somebody’s building – they’re going to play better at home, they’re going to shoot the ball better at home (and) they’re going to play with more energy at home,” Christian said. “It takes a great effort to beat them; it takes a toughness. You’ve got to battle the crowd (and) you’ve got to battle the opposition – it’s tough to win on the road in college basketball…but good teams find a way to do it.”

The Flashes are coming off of a road victory, having defeated UNC Greensboro 71-64 Saturday.

Now they will try to win back-to-back road games, something last season’s team didn’t do until defeating Ball State and Northern Illinois on Jan. 24 and Jan. 27.

“Hopefully we can build off the (game) we just had, which was the same type of environment as we’re going into (tonight),” Christian said. “We learned our lessons in that game and we understood what it took. We competed for 40 minutes; we may not have played great, but we competed for 40 minutes, and that’s what you have to do.

“You have to give yourself a chance. We’ve been in two road games so far and have had a chance to win both games. That’s what you want; now you have to find a way to get it done.”

Contact men’s basketball reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected]