Preview: Men’s Basketball team matches up with Northern Illinois in MAC tournament


Matthew Brown

Kent State redshirt senior Malique Jacobs darts around Central Michigan University freshman Max Majerle during the game against Central Michigan University on Jan. 31, 2023.

Jacob Shondel and

The Kent State men’s basketball team will play No. 7 seed Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference quarterfinals at 4 p.m. Thursday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

This is the second matchup against the Huskies this season. 

On Jan. 24, the Flash’s defense gave up a season-high 86 points to NIU, leading to their first conference loss. 

Kent State is 2-0 all-time against the Huskies in the tournament. 

This season, KSU finished 25-6 in the regular season and the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament at 15-3. Under coach Rob Senderoff, the team has won 20 or more games eight times and have made the conference tournament every year. 

Kent State went undefeated at home for the first time since 2007-08; also, the last time the team won 25 games. 

That same season the Flashes won the Mid-American Conference tournament and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament. 

Out of the seven other teams in the tournament, KSU went undefeated against four: Toledo, Ohio, Buffalo and Miami. 

Kent State redshirt senior Sincere Carry leaps to make a shot at the net during the game against Central Michigan University Jan. 31, 2023. (Matthew Brown)

Akron, Northern Illinois and Ball State all defeated Kent State this season.

Kent State ranks first in the MAC in scoring defense (65.4), field goal percentage defense (40.1%), three-point field goal percentage defense (31.1%), steals (9) and blocks (3.6).

As announced Wednesday, redshirt senior guard Malique Jacobs was named MAC Defensive Player of the Year, All-MAC Second Team and All-MAC Defensive Team – he leads the conference in steals and is tied for second in the nation at 2.7 steals per game.

Redshirt senior Malique Jacobs plows through Buffalo opponent for a layup attempt Jan. 27, 2022. (Kaitlyn Murray)

On Nov. 19, Jacobs set a program record by recording 10 steals against Chicago State. His 81 steals this season are the most in Kent State history. 

Sophomore guard Jalen Sullinger earned MAC Sixth Man of the Year, fifth in the MAC at 43.1% from behind the arc. This season is the first time Kent State has had a player win the sixth man of the year back to back for the second time in program history – last year was Justyn Hamilton. 

Redshirt senior guard Sincere Carry was named to the All-MAC First Team and All-MAC Defensive Team. He averages a team-best 17.4 points, which is tied for fourth in the conference. Carry is the first player in program history to be named to the All-MAC First Team and All-MAC Defensive Team twice. 

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