Three takeaways from Kent State’s win against Stetson

Senior forward Philip Whittington (25) shoots a layup during Kent State’s 77-53 win over Stetson on Nov. 30, 2019. He finished with a season-high 16 points, with 12 points coming in the second half.

Kent State has three wins of 24 points or more this season. They, again, had a slow first half in a 77-53 win over Stetson on Saturday. Here are three takeaways from the win.

1. Kent State is a second half team

The Flashes score 28 more points in the second half compared to the first half so far this season (281-253). They have outscored teams 281-209 in the second half. 

In Saturday’s win, Kent State outscored Stetson 42-24 in the second half. A 10-0 run over the first four minutes of the second half gave the Flashes a 45-33 lead. 

The Flashes’ second half run was fueled by senior forward Philip Whittington, who scored 12 points in the second half on 4-for-5 shooting. He finished with a season-high 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds, including four on the offensive end. He added a block and did not turn the ball over, bouncing back from a career-worst five turnover performance at Ohio State. Saturday’s game was the third time he scored double digits this season. The Flashes are 3-0 in such games.

2. Kent State continues to rely heavily on guard play

Junior forward Danny Pippen is likely the No. 1 option on offense, but on Saturday three guards were in double digits. Senior guards Antonio Williams and Troy Simons combined for 23 points on 9-for-20 shooting. Sophomore guard Anthony Roberts added a game-high 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting in 24 minutes. The trio also combined for nine assists. 

Williams is the primary distributor, while Simons is more of a scoring option. Williams has a team-high 31 assists. He also has 16 turnovers, finishing with two turnovers against Stetson.

Simons has 12 assists and six turnovers so far this year. He leads the team with 21 made 3-pointers, while shooting 39 percent from three.

Freshman Gio Santiago started the first game of his career on Saturday. He played 18 minutes, scored two points, dished out two assists and committed two turnovers. Despite his performance against Stetson, he has had bright spots this season. He has 21 assists in 120 minutes played so far this season. If he limits mistakes and plays serviceable defense, he could become a consistent offensive option playing more meaningful minutes.

3. Pippen continues to be an all-around consistent force 

Pippen has averaged a team-high 14.1 points per game on 43 percent shooting and 37 percent from 3-point range. Against Stetson he scored 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting, while attempting a season-low two 3-pointers (0-for-2). He attempted a season-high six free throws, making four. He added three blocks, two steals and six rebounds.

So far this season he has finished with two or more blocks five times. Pippen’s versatility adds a new layer to the Flashes’ offense. His six free throw attempts are a promising sign for a team that attempted seven free throws in a 71-52 loss at Ohio State.

Kent State’s next game is Tuesday at 7 p.m. when they takes on Detroit Mercy. The Flashes beat the Titans last year 76-72. Kent State has a 3-1 record against Detroit Mercy since 2003. 

Contact Ian Kreider at [email protected]