Men’s basketball dominates defensively with program-record performance


Matthew Brown

Kent State redshirt senior Miryne Thomas takes a shot as Chicago State’s Arol Kacuol attempts to block him.

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

On the season, the Kent State men’s basketball team has averaged 20 points per game off turnovers. 

Saturday at the M.A.C. Center, the Flashes scored a season-high 38 points off turnovers, defeating Chicago State 88-59.

“Right now, we haven’t rebounded the way we need to, so you have to find other ways to score,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “That part of the game has been big for us, and we have to make sure that we score in transition.”

KSU improves to 5-0, its best start since the 2019-2020 season. The Cougars fall to 2-3.

Redshirt senior Malique Jacobs finished the game with a school record of 10 steals. He beat out Chris Singletary, who had eight against North Carolina Greensboro in 2008.

Last season, Jacobs recorded the first-ever triple-double in program history.

“It feels good to have those records,” he said, “but I give kudos to coach for letting me just play my game.”

Keeping the lead all afternoon

KSU started the game on a 15-0 run in the first five minutes.

Redshirt senior Miryne Thomas said it’s the team’s identity to have a fast start.

“We were able to hold them scoreless for the first five minutes of the game,” he said. “We’re going to dominate these guys, so we just got to focus in on being the solid team that we are.”

Kent State’s Akeem Odusipe (34) and Miryne Thomas (33) guard Chicago University sophomore Kedrick Green during the game on Nov. 19, 2022. (Matthew Brown)

Senderoff credited his scouting team for the team’s early game advantages. 

“Those guys do a great job in terms of the preparation, and then our kids are going out there and seeing that the other teams doing is exactly what we’ve practiced,” he said. “We’re able to make the plays we need to make to start the game.”

Kent State held the Cougars to 33% from the field. KSU shot 48%. 

The Flashes scored a season-high 56 points at halftime and led by a season-best 28 points.​​ Thomas led the team with 13 points. 

KSU forced 14 turnovers resulting in 23 points.

In the second half, Kent State was out-rebounded 30-12 and shot 31%. 

“Sometimes it’s hard when you get a big lead the way we did to keep your focus, and that’s something we have to get better at,” Senderoff said. “We do have a lot of experience, but we are still putting everything together with some new faces. And it’s good to see us play the way we have.”

Freshman forward Delrecco Gillespie led the bench in scoring with 11 points. 

“He got an opportunity to play a little bit more than he had in some other games,” Senderoff said. “He did a good job when guys drive the ball and finding open areas really well tonight and then finishing on top of the basket.”

Thomas said it’s important to trust the players who come off the bench.

“We have a big roster, and we have a lot of talented guys,” he said. “We can trust a lot of different guys out on the floor.”

Thomas led KSU with 17 points; he totaled four rebounds and two assists. Jacobs finished with 10 points, 10 steals and three assists. Redshirt senior guard Sincere Carry added 12 points and five assists. 

All Kent State starters finished with 10 or more points. 

KSU shot 9-of-29 from three and attempted 26 free throws, converting on 23. 

End of packed week 

The Flashes have played three games this week, defeating Portland on Monday and Arkansas Pine Bluff on Wednesday. 

“Just seeing that we have a number of guys that can contribute has been important,” Senderoff said. “But to be where we’re at right now is good, and now we just have to keep trying to get better.”

The Golden Flashes stay in high spirits on the bench as the game against Chicago State draws closer to another win for Kent. (Matthew Brown)

Jacobs said the team has learned to be consistent.

“We just have to compete every day and just be ready every day,” he said. 

Kent State will travel to South Carolina, taking on the College of Charleston (4-1) Wednesday at 6 p.m.

The Cougar’s one loss came at the hand of No.1 North Carolina, 102-86. 

Charleston has scored over 80 points in four of its games this season – KSU opponents have averaged 60 points per game this year. 

Senderoff said his team needs to improve its rebounding going into next week.

“They’re playing really, really well to start the season,” Senderoff said. “I know we have to get better at that area to compete with those guys because that’s usually been a strength of ours.”

Jacob Shondel is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].