Steals for days: Malique Jacobs leads nation as men’s basketball remains perfect at home

Kent+State+redshirt+senior+Malique+Jacobs+surveys+the+court+during+the+game+against+South+Dakota.

Brady Hamilton

Kent State redshirt senior Malique Jacobs surveys the court during the game against South Dakota.

Kyle Kuchta , Reporter

Eight games into the season, redshirt senior guard Malique Jacobs has already totaled 28 steals – and he leads the nation in average steals per game with 3.8.

In November against Chicago State, he broke the program record for most steals per game, totaling ten. Friday against South Dakota State, he had five.

“In the second half in particular, I thought he really passed the ball well,” Senderoff said. “He is such a good player he is still not playing at 100 percent.”

Jacobs earned 13 points, the second-best from KSU, and led his team with seven assists.

The Flashes, now 6-2, defeated South Dakota State 83-68 Friday. The team led the game 98.8% of the time.

Kent State has won all five of its home games so far this season.

South Dakota State (3-5) went 16-7 overall last year and finished at the top of the Summit League Conference.

“We made a really good team look pretty average tonight,” Senderoff said. “That’s a credit to how well we played, especially on the defensive end.”

Kent State redshirt senior Malique Jacobs fends off South Dakota freshman Tanner Te Slaa during the game on Dec. 2nd, 2022. (Brady Hamilton)

Defense controls early

Kent State started the game with an 11-0 run and held South Dakota State scoreless for over three minutes.

“It’s great when we come out like that, to get the first punch,” said redshirt senior guard Sincere Carry, who led the team in scoring. “It brings good energy and wakes everybody up.”

By the end of the half, the score was 43-27, KSU.

SDSU shot 26.7% from the field and 38.5% from three.

The Flashes shot 15-30 from the field and 4-11 beyond the arc. They went 9-of-10 from the free throw line.

Sophomore guard Jalen Sullinger made three of Kent State’s four three pointers.

By halftime, Sullinger tied for the lead in scoring with nine points on 3-of-4 from three. He tallied one steal and one block.

“It is easy to shoot when my teammates find me the way they were tonight,” Sullinger said. “I was getting open looks and knocking them down.”

Jacobs had nine points with three rebounds, three assists and two steals. Sophomore center Cli’Ron Hornbeak totaled nine points with seven rebounds and a block.

The two shot 50% from the field.

Offense picks up

South Dakota State shot 52% from the field and 62.5% from 3-point range in the second half.

Kent State improved from the three point range, shooting 46.2% in the second half. KSU shot 91.7% from the free-throw line.

Redshirt senior guard Sincere Carry, last year’s MAC offensive player of the year, scored six points in the first half.

“It’s just playing in the offense – not trying to force too much, getting two feet in the paint, going off two and just taking shots that I work on and that I get a lot of reps on each and every day,” he said.

By the end of Friday’s game, he totaled 23 points. He has been the program’s top scorer in five games this season.

Against South Dakota State, Carry went 10-for-16 from the field and 3-5 from 3-point range. He had two rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Kent State redshirt senior Sincere Carry makes a fadeaway shot during the game against South Dakota. (Brady Hamilton)

The redshirt senior is tied for eighth in the nation in steals per game, averaging three.

KSU totaled 12 assists, and nine of its 10 players scored at least one point.

“It is fun when anybody can bring the ball up, and you can pass it and everybody can shoot,” Carry said. “It makes the game easier for us to get downhill.”

Hornbeak finished with a double-double, scoring 11 points with 10 rebounds and three blocks.

“He’s made a huge jump from last year. He’s got to maintain his focus throughout the game,” Senderoff said.

South Dakota State improved on offense in the second half, shooting 52% from the field and 62.5% from 3-point range.

Sophomore guard Zeke Mayo led the Jackrabbits with 12 points and had four rebounds, one assist and one steal.

Now, it’s against the nation’s top team

Kent State plays No. 14 Gonzaga Monday in Spokane, Wash. The team is 5-3 and comes off of a 64-63 loss to No. 6 Baylor.

The Bulldogs have played five nationally-ranked teams this season – only one matchup was an exhibition game. They have only defeated one ranked opponent.

Senior forward Drew Timme leads the team in total points with 149. He averages 18.6 per game.

Carry, Kent State’s leading scorer, has 148 points on the season and averages 18.5 per game.

Junior guard Julian Strawther has made a team-best 17 3-pointers. Redshirt senior forward Miryne Thomas has made 18 for KSU.

“Monday, we’re playing the best offensive team in the country, year in and year out,” Senderoff said. “We feel like we have a good offensive team too. Let’s see how we can compete against the best of the best in that.”

Kyle Kuchta is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]