Three takeaways from Kent State’s third straight win

Ian Kreider

Kent State used a 22-2 run over four minutes to separate itself from Cleveland State (4-6). The Flashes improved to 8-1 with the 81-59 win. It’s the Flashes fifth win of 20 or more points this season. Here are three takeaways from the win.

1. Senior guards Antonio Williams and Troy Simons paired with sophomore guard Anthony Roberts are interchangeable offensive weapons.

The trio combined to score 43 points on 17-for-32 shooting. Williams and Simons scored 21 points in the first half, while Roberts went 0-for-2 and did not score. It was the first time this season he failed to score in the first half.

“(Roberts) is a tough shot maker,” Williams said. “He gets himself going, but we tell him to just keep shooting it. Even if he ain’t shooting it we tell him, ‘You know your game. Shoot the ball.’”

Cleveland State used full-court pressure for the entire game. Early on, it sped up Kent State’s offense, forcing tough layups and quick empty possessions. The Flashes trailed 15-9 with about 14 minutes left in the first half. 

But they quickly adjusted to the defensive pressure going on a 22-2 run to take a 42-22 run with under four minutes to play in the first half. 

“Our guards, we’re really interchangeable,” Williams said. “We can change spots. Sometimes I can bring it up. Sometimes Troy (Simons) can bring it up. Sometimes Ant (Anthony Roberts). So it takes a lot of pressure off our guys. So one guy doesn’t get tired of bringing the ball up the floor. I don’t think the (defensive) pressure bothered us.”

Williams added two steals and a block, while only committing one foul. He has only finished a game with four or more fouls once (against Towson). Last season he finished with four or more fouls in 13 of 33 games. 

“Danny (Pippen) he grabbed me and told me, ‘Man, you don’t have to block every shot. I can block it. I’m going to block it,’” Williams said. “I stopped reaching and he’s been blocking. So I’m going to stick to it (laughs).”

2. Senior forward Danny Pippen had his worst offensive game of the season, but it didn’t matter.

Pippen’s offense has carried the Flashes throw some lulls early this season, but that did not happen Saturday night. Instead, Kent State’s offense came out strong in the first half. Three players finished the first half in double digits, but Pippen was not one of them. He shot 2-for-6 and scored six points in the first half. He went 0-for-3 in the second half and finished with six points.

It was the first time this season that Pippen did not score in double digits. He went just 1-for-7 from 3-point range as well, but he left his mark on the defensive end.

Pippen wants to lead the nation in blocks. When he gets a box score blocks are the first thing he looks at. He added three blocks in the win. In the win prior, against Detroit Mercy, he tied his own school record of seven blocks. 

3. Senior forward Philip Whittington continues to start fast with the offense running through him during most of the first half.

Whittington scored 14 points on an efficient 7-for-10 shooting, including two deep mid range jump shots. In the first half he scored 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting. After his worst career performance against in a 72-51 loss at Ohio State on Nov. 25, during which he scored five points and fouled out in 14 minutes, Whittington has scored at least 14 points in three consecutive games. 

“We have a lot of depth,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “That’s part of the thing that’s tough for me. We’ve got some good players. Guys have to understand that it’s not always going to be their night necessarily, but that we have a deep team.”

Contact Ian Kreider at [email protected]