The best of the West played host to the best of the East Saturday night in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
Kent State beat Central Michigan 68-63 to claim honors as the best in the Mid-American Conference.
With the win, KSU (17-7, 8-2) increased its winning streak to seven games and handed CMU (11-10, 6-3) its second loss this season at the Rose Center. In addition, the Flashes' win streak against MAC West Division opponents improved to 15 consecutive games.
Central Michigan led Kent State 31-28 at halftime, which really wasn't too bad of a deficit, considering the Flashes struggled to get going in the first half. They committed seven turnovers that the Chippewas promptly turned into nine first-half points.
But Kent State center Justin Greene closed the gap at the start of the second half when he was fouled making the first basket of the period, using the three-point play to pull even at 31-31. Greene led all scorers with 22 points, to go along with five rebounds and three steals. KSU senior guard Chris Singletary had 19 points, six rebounds and six assists.
The Chippewas ran out to their largest lead, 48-39, with 12:44 to go in the game before a crucial timeout by Kent State coach Geno Ford. In the two minutes following, the Flashes went on a 10-0 run to take their first lead of the half.
''Out of the timeout, we went to zone just to take them out of their rhythm a little bit, and the move paid off,'' Ford said. ''Offensively, Justin and Chris really took over the game inside.''
Flashes senior forward Anthony Simpson hit a pair of 3-pointers to retain KSU's slight lead with five minutes remaining. Coming off a career-high 19 points in KSU's win over Eastern Michigan on Thursday, Simpson was quiet in the first half before finding his long-range touch to contribute the two key baskets.
The Chippewas responded with a 5-0 run in a matter of a minute, a spurt punctuated by junior guard Antonio Weary's steal and dunk. Kent State junior guard Rod Sherman erased the deficit all by himself via a short jumper followed by a 3-pointer to put the Flashes back up 62-58.
With the Flashes leading by four with under a minute to go, the Chippewas resorted to fouling, desperately needing to stop the clock. But the effort was too little, too late, as the Flashes put the game away at the foul line while withstanding a Weary 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining.
- It was the ninth straight win over Central Michigan and the 16th straight in the regular season.
- KSU has won 16 straight against the MAC West.
- After committing nine turnovers in the first 22 minutes, KSU had just one the final 18.
- The Golden Flashes have held 11 of the last 12 opponents to 33.3 percent shooting or less from three.
- Kent State held a 32-24 advantage in points scored in the paint, marking the 11th straight win by KSU when scoring at least 30 points in the paint.
- 2013 (75)
- 2012 (122)
- 2010 (161)
- 2009 (263)
- 2008 (103)