McKee shoots down Eagles

Doug Gulasy

Redshirt sophomore guard scores career-high 20 points in 74-51 win

Kent State sophomore forward Mike McKee hoist one of his 11 shots attempts yesterday at the M.A.C. Center. McKee scored a career high 20 points on 7-11 shooting. He hit six 3-pointers. DANIEL OWEN | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Dan Kloock

Kent State senior forward Mike Scott drives past a defender in yesterday’s 74-51 victory over Coppin State. DANIEL OWEN | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Dan Kloock

Before this season, Kent State sophomore guard Mike McKee had never scored more than 15 points in a game.

Now he’s done it twice in a week.

McKee relied mostly on long-range shooting — he made six 3-pointers — to score a career-high 20 points in a 74-51 Kent State victory yesterday afternoon at the M.A.C. Center.

“I just felt the same as I feel every other game,” said McKee, who had set a career-high for points just days earlier with 16 in the Flashes’ victory over Hampton. “Just hitting that first shot really helps, really gives you a little bit of confidence (and) makes the other shots easier to take.”

McKee actually made his first four 3-point attempts. Many came after good ball movement, with his teammates finding him open for shots.

“The thing I’ve really been pleased about is the last two games, we’ve really done a great job of moving the basketball and making the extra pass,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “It’s 22 assists (yesterday) on 29 baskets, and the same kind of situation last game. We continue to do that and we’re taking great shots, so that’s why we’re starting to play better offensively.”

Junior guard Jordan Mincy said the ball movement didn’t come by accident.

“Before every practice, coach has a drill where we do the extra pass,” said Mincy, who had four assists. “He always preaches about it — talks about extra passes, get somebody else a shot. We try to do that every time we come out — try to make plays for our teammates so they get an open shot.”

While the offense had a good game, the defense was no slouch either. The Flashes gave up a season-low 51 points and held Coppin State to 39.6 percent shooting. The team also forced 17 turnovers.

“When we went over the scouting report, he said the guards turn it over a lot,” sophomore guard Rodriquez Sherman said. “So we just let them turn it over to us, basically — stay solid, help as you get back and don’t gamble.”

The defense played well in both halves of the game yesterday, giving up 25 points in the first half and 26 in the second.

“We strive every day to play 40 minutes,” Christian said. “We don’t want to play 20 minutes, and teams adjust at halftime and our guys have to make adjustments as well in order to maintain it. But let’s be honest — you’re not going to hold a team (to) 25 percent shooting for the whole night most of the time. That’s not easy to do. Our goal is to keep them under 40 (percent) — they were 39.6.”

The Flashes shot 53 percent on 3-pointers in the first half, connecting on eight of their 15 attempts. Overall, the team shot 55 percent in the half to take a 43-25 lead into the intermission.

In the second half, the Flashes led exclusively by double digits. However, the Eagles made a late run, cutting their deficit to 64-51 with just under five minutes remaining.

Christian called a timeout, and the Flashes scored the last 10 points of the game.

“In the game of basketball, both teams are going to make runs, and they made a run,” Christian said. “They made a little run. We stopped getting back — at that point, our transition defense was bad — and we just called timeout to get our guys regrouped. (Senior forward) Mike (Scott) hit his shot, and then we got like four, five straight stops. That’s what you have to do; you have to answer somebody’s run and make a run of your own.”

Scott had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Sherman added 13 points and a team-high of five assists for the Flashes, who return to action with a game against Longwood on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the M.A.C. Center.

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

-Back from suspension, not from injury

Sophomore guard Chris Singletary was eligible to return to action yesterday following a two-game suspension for violating university policy, but he watched the game from the bench in street clothes. Kent State coach Jim Christian said Singletary has a hip flexor injury and could have probably played, but was held out as a precaution.

-Nine with more than 10

Nine players played double-digit minutes yesterday: the five starters — seniors Haminn Quaintance and Mike Scott, junior Jordan Mincy and sophomores Mike McKee and Rodriquez Sherman — and four reserves — juniors Al Fisher, Rashad Woods, Isaac Knight and Julian Sullinger.

-Three in a row for two

Scott and McKee both had their third consecutive game with double-digit points. Scott scored 17 points to raise his team-high season total to 47 through three games, an average of 15.7 per game. After McKee scored 20 points yesterday, he put himself one behind Scott on the season with 46 total — an average of 15.3 a game.

-Taking charity

Scott was a 68.5 percent career free-throw shooter entering this season. After he connected on all three of his attempts yesterday, he stands at 93.8 percent this season.

-Nice records

The Flashes scored more than 70 points and held Coppin State to below 60 in yesterday’s victory. With the victory, the team improved to 77-14 when scoring more than 70 and 40-6 when holding the opposition below 60 in Christian’s six years as coach.

-Seeing the court

Two centers, sophomore Brandon Parks and junior Gabe Garcia, saw their first playing time of the season in yesterday’s game. Parks scored two points on a put-back of a missed Garcia shot.

-Redshirt for freshman

Kent State coach Jim Christian said following yesterday’s game that he plans to redshirt freshman forward Antonio DiMaria.