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Good news: They put me right behind the Zips bench. How close? I think my laptop is going to get sweaty.
Bad news: There are no power outlets, so my correspondence might be limited.
Worse news (for Kent State):
Eric Thomas, a member of the Elite Eight team,
was arrested for rape. He is currently a basketball coach at Ravenna High School. He allegedly broke into some dude's house, assaulted him and raped the woman. As a result, KSU took down Thomas' retired jersey banner. "It saddens and disappoints me to see someone that I have tremendous respect for be involved in such serious allegations," KSU athletic director
Laing Kennedy said in a statement.
Kent State is unveiling a live eagle as a mascot tonight. There's your theme for the game: Rapes and eagles.
This game reminds me of the infamous Stark Scheme, cooked up by former associate athletic director
Mike Waddell. The AK-Rowdies showed up to the M.A.C. Center with "Kent State - Stark Branch" T-shirts. In heel fashion, they disrobed to show their true alliance before the game.
This atmosphere is great. It makes you proud to be a college basketball fan. I'd say the crowd is 65-35 in favor of the Flashes.
Kent State's students were really obnoxious during the national anthem. The singer missed at least three notes by my count, too.
During player introductions, the video board showed each Flashes' "previous affiliation" instead of "high school." I suppose that's a side effect of having a team comprised mainly of mercenaries -- err -- transfers.
Chris Singletary is playing, despite getting
tossed from the loss at Ohio.
Nate Linhart came out of the game with what appeared to be a charlie horse to his left thigh. I could be wrong.
KSU is holding the most annoying halftime contest ever. Two fans are taking turns at giving commentary of a Kent State highlight clip. It's a bunch of unintelligible yelling.
Halftime stats to chew on:
Jeremiah Wood leads the Zips with 11 points, including two foul shots off a flagarant foul. It was pretty ugly -- the foul, not the shots.
Both teams have atrocious assist-to-turnover ratios. KSU: 5 to 12. Akron: 7 to 11.
Akron is 7-of-13 on 3-point attempts. Kent State is 2-of-7.
Steve McNees has five turnovers. He doesn't look comfortable tonight.
A quarter flew out of nowhere to land behind
Brett McKnight on the Zips bench midway through the second half. It came from the direction of Kent State's student section. A lot of Kent State's students look like the turbo-loser in the viral video
My New Haircut. (Only click that link if you have tough skin and a sense of humor.)
Linhart got a little chippy with
Mike Scott. Linhart went down hard on offense. He might have retaliated on defense (I didn't see it). Then Scott got in his face. Linhart pushed Scott's face away.
The Zips lost their lead with McNees running the point. He had eight turnovers and two assists.
The referees let Kent State's stingy perimeter defense alone for the most part. They were grabbing, clawing and slapping. To the Flashes' credit, if they won't call it, keep going. The Flashes shot 31 free throws compared to Akron's 15, but Akron also took 28 3-pointers, which are less likely to draw a foul.
Akron made a lot of silly errors at the end of the game that could have afforded the Zips a shot to tie. Linhart dragged his pivot foot on a miscommunication. The Zips allowed eight seconds to tick off the clock before fouling at the 12 second mark.
A mini-brawl broke out when McNees fouled
Haminn Quaintance a little too hastily. Both parties got a technical foul. So did
That's when Kent State's fans showed their true class by tossing garbage at the Akron players. After the incident, the stadium chanted, "We are Kent State." Next time you do something disgraceful, stand over your victim and shout your name. It makes it set in better.
Final -- Kent State 75, Akron 69
Dials quotes: "Both teams just wanting to protect their teammates. It's a big rivalry. You can't expect anything less than high-intensity. No hard feelings, though. It was just emotions getting the best of us."
"They got in our shorts and made us do things we didn't want to do. As a young team, we didn't execute our plays like we did in the first half."
Wood quotes: "I didn't see no punches thrown."
"The crowd got them really hyped. They started playing harder and more aggressive."
"Coach warned us at halftime that he didn't like how the game was going. Coach said we need to come out and play our game. We won't keep making all our shots like we were in the first half. The ball needed to go down a little more to the block."
Dambrot quotes: "I feel bad about the way the game ended. I think there's a lot of respect between the programs. I respect
Jim Christian. I think he's one of the best coaches in the country. We model our program after Kent State. Our kids respect their kids. Their kids respect ours. I don't think there's any hard feelings between the teams at all, unless I'm mistaken.
"Last year, if we do get beat. Tonight, we get one block. It's been a problem all year around. I didn't think it was one of our better games. Kent punches us in the mouth."
"I should have subbed more in the second half. We looked kind of dead on our feet."
"We didn't do a good job of throwing down to Wood."
"I thought the first half was garbage. I told them at halftime, 'If you shoot the jumper on the break, that's fine. If you shoot after the ball gets to Wood, that's fine. If you shoot late in the clock, that's fine. But we're shooting too many jumpers.'"
"Everything turned into a broken play because it was so loud. Our guards got in on us. We did not reciprocate on them."
"I guess we fouled more than them. If you gamble and make bad plays, then you foul. I'm not going to make excuses."
"I thought it was an extremely hard environment. Harder than Dayton."
On 23 turnovers: "That might be our team's career high. That might be one of McNees' worst game. But they got in him. It's a difficult environment. I'm going to ride him. I'm not going to lose confidence in him. You can't make 23 turnovers and win. You're lucky if you make 12 and win. We lead the league in assist-to-turnover ratio. We led it the wrong way tonight."
"Quade's a good kid. I'm sure Quaintance is a good kid." (Me laughing out loud.)
On whether another MAC atmosphere matches KSU: "I guess maybe Ohio U. I like our place, but it can't get any better than this place. It's a great, great environment. There can't be a better mid-level environment than this."
"Hey, I root for Kent State. I don't root for them when we play them."
"Cedrick has had a really, really difficult time since the league started. I've never coached a better kid than Cedrick Middleton. He's had a hard time physically, medically. I'm gonna ride him anyway. My belief is that if you're high character and you've done it in the past, you'll come roaring back."