Men’s basketball extends home winning streak against Buffalo


Emma Van Winkle

Kent State redshirt senior Malique Jacobs, senior Chris Payton, redshirt senior Miryne Thomas and redshirt sophomore VonCameron Davis waiting for Buffalo during the game on Jan. 27, 2023.

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

Kent State men’s basketball team has yet to lose a game played at the M.A.C. Center in its last 16 games.

Friday, that streak continued and is now the second-longest home winning streak in the NCAA after defeating Buffalo 78-64.

“The students have been awesome since they’ve been back on campus,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “When our kids come down, and they see that section filling up, it brings an energy to the team.”

KSU improved to 17-4 overall and is first in the conference at 7-1. The Bulls fall to 10-11 on the season and are now sixth at 4-4 in the MAC.

Defending homecourt 

Kent State started the game on a 9-0 run, making two 3-pointers and forcing three Buffalo turnovers.

The Bulls were held scoreless until the 15-minute mark.

“I thought that was a big key to the game, how we started on the defensive end,” Senderoff said. “We didn’t shoot it great throughout the game, but our defensive intensity was there the entire night.”

With 7:03 remaining in the first half, Kent State led 23-17 as both teams struggled offensively, shooting under 30%.

Both teams went back and forth in the final three minutes of the half, and KSU led 42-31.

In the first half, senior forward Chris Payton led KSU with 10 points, four rebounds and four blocks.

Coming into the game, the Bulls averaged 18.6 fastbreak points per game,  second-

Kent State senior Chris Payton pushes away Buffalo University freshman Isaac Jack as he attempts to guard him during the home game against Buffalo University on Jan. 27, 2023. (Kaitlyn Murray)

best in the nation. They had zero at the half.

“We were sprinting back and making multiple efforts on the ball, and we did a great job with that,” Senderoff said. “Another key is not turning the ball over, especially not live ball turnovers, so you’re able to have your defense set up.”

The Kent State defense forced 10 turnovers and scored eight points off them.

In the opening nine minutes of the second half, KSU shot 5-of-15 and BU attempted 10 shots, converting four, leading to a 55-43 Kent State lead.

Over the next three minutes, Kent State went on a 7-2 run. Sophomore guard Jalen Sullinger scored five points and put KSU up 59-45.

In the game’s final four minutes, Kent State was outscored 16-8.

“If we could have defensive rebounds late, we would have been able to separate a little bit earlier or maybe even had a little bit larger of a lead,” Senderoff said. “But our transition defense and sprinting back covering up for each other, we did a good job with all of that all night.”

KSU shot 41.5% and was 5-of-24 from behind the arc – BU shot 33.3% and was 7-of-29 from behind the arc.

Carry, who has now scored 20 or more points six times, finished with a game-high 24 points and seven assists. He has led the team in scoring nine times.

Kent State redshirt senior Sincere Carry looking for his next move against Buffalo during the game on Jan. 27, 2023. (Emma Van Winkle)

Payton added 12 points, eight rebounds and five blocks.

“I feel like I could have always performed like this, and I can’t really tell you why I haven’t been up to this point. But I mean, my confidence is there, and I believe in myself,” Payton said. “The fact that my team is going to find me and allow me to perform this way that I have been.”

“I expect this out of myself, so I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise.”

Payton has now scored in double figures in three consecutive games.

Pack the M.A.C.C. 

The Flashes will next be in action Tuesday, taking on Central Michigan (7-13, 2-5 MAC) at 7 p.m. The Chippewas are in ninth place in the conference.

CMU is ranked last in the conference in points scored per game (67.1) while KSU’s defense is second, allowing 63.8 points per game.

Central Michigan also ranks last in 3-pointers made (124); they have shot the lowest percentage from behind the arc in the MAC (30.9 percent).

“I see all across the country teams that are playing well, and the crowds are enjoying it, and hopefully, we can have that again on Tuesday,” Senderoff said. “I really attribute a lot of the energy these guys play with to the folks that are here.”

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