University of Akron Zips blog
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I'm sitting next to the basket tonight. It should give me a different perspective, especially on the interior game. I'm looking forward to it, but I don't like the possibility of having my computer destroyed by a loose ball.
This liveblog is primarily for those fans who are living outside of Ohio. I assume everyone else would be here or watching on TV.
Jiving with my prediction, Akron is a five-point favorite.
I introduced myself to Zeke Marshall and his family. Great people. It will be good for him to watch exactly what this rivalry is about.
One of the AK-Rowdies confronted me about popping his beach ball during the Kent-Akron football game.
Chris Singletary is doubtful for tonight's game with a shoulder injury. If you're the gambling type, that should be the clincher for why you put money on Akron today. That came from Tom Gaffney's game preview, by the way.
Akron's starters: Humpty Hitchens, Darryl Roberts, Nik Cvetinovic, Chris McKnight and Nate Linhart.
The crowd is about 90 percent full. The only blocks of vacancies are in the upper corners of the sections behind the hoops. Each fan received a "Beat Kent State" towel.
Not much has been said about this, but Dru Joyce's brother Cameron is a walk-on for Kent State. I bet there's an interesting story in there somewhere.
The cheerleaders are wearing cute white Zips jerseys turned into skirts. They have the No. 23 on the back. I'm sure Brett McKnight won't complain.
Mike Bardo and Brandon Parks are doing some serious banging. On one path down the floor, Bardo grabbed at Parks' foot to stop him.
J.D. Brookhart dropped by my humble post. He was excited about recruiting and thoroughly exhausted. I laugh when people complain about how much college football coaches earn. They work an insane amount of hours, even from a future lawyer's perspective. It's particularly difficult for someone with a young family, like Brookhart.
Singletary is playing despite his injury. He just bowled over Chris McKnight and scored. Keith Dambrot was irate about the no-call for charging. He put up two fingers, signaling that the refs have screwed up two calls.
An AK-Rowdy has stripped down to his Speedo. I want to describe him for you without hurting his feelings. Let's just say he doesn't possess the typical swimsuit model's body.
Chris McKnight just converted a three-point play off a miraculous layup from under the hoop. It almost looked like his arm bent the wrong way to pull that off.
Jimmy Conyers entered the game. He has seen a reduction in minutes the past week. He only played five against Bowling Green and 14 against Ohio. Singletary is plowing into Conyers when Singletary has the ball. I would pull the proverbial chair out from under him.
Two more Speedo-ed men have accompanied the portly fellow who started the trend. It takes a whole lot of gumption to display your package to Rhodes Arena. I commend them.
Brett McKnight extended Akron's lead to 14 with a 3-pointer and a three-point play. On the latter, he recovered a blocked Hitchens pass on a fast break and laid it in. He followed that with another layup.
Often, it seems like one team is recovering more loose balls that another. That is true today, but the Zips are going after the ball more aggressively.
Halftime stats of note: Kent State is shooting 28 percent. Akron is shooting 42 percent. Brett McKnight leads the game with 15 points. Anthony Simpson has seven rebounds. The Flashes have two assists and 10 turnovers.
Al Fisher picked up his third and fourth foul within the span of 19 seconds. He's had a tough game, but without him, the Flashes' hopes are slim. They did start the half on a 6-0 run, though. It's a 9-0 run if you count the first half. Brett McKnight ended it with a layup.
Simpson has a nice jump shot. At 6-foot-8, he can pretty much shoot over whoever he wants, too. Simpson has seven of the Flashes' 12 points this half.
Kent State changed to a zone. It will be interesting to see how it affects Akron's offense.
Singletary picked up his fourth foul. That means Kent's two best players will be sitting for awhile. If I were Geno Ford, I would put one in at the five-minute mark and one in at three minutes.
I retract that statement. Fisher re-entered the game with 10 minutes to play. Risky move. Fisher hit a 3 to make it look brilliant. Suddenly we can hear Kent State fans now that the lead has narrowed to one. The Flashes have scored 21 points to Akron's eight this half.
Kent State took its first lead of the game at 48-47.
There is not a lot of boxing out on either team. As a result, most defensive rebounds are an adventure.
Singletary fouled out with 5:51 to play. Ford took a risk by keeping his top guys in. It resulted in a good run, but it probably wasn't worth it. Akron is on a 9-0 run.
Brett McKnight extended the lead to 10 with a breakaway dunk. That is the loudest I have heard this crowd since the comeback against Kent last year that went awry.
Brett McKnight is heading to the free throw line after his legs got tangled with a Kent State player's and he fell on his hip. He stayed down for a few extra seconds, but he appears to be OK after a pep talk from brother Chris. The younger brother Brett has 28 points right now. His previous career high was 23 at Pitt. It is a good sign that he explodes against the archrival and a top-five team in the nation.
Hitchens hit a 3 late in the shot clock, thereby giving Akron a 12-point lead and cuing the fat lady to warm up her pipes. He drained two free throws for good measure.
Final individual stats of note: Brett McKnight finished with 29 points on 10-of-11 shooting. Simpson had 16 points and 16 rebounds. Fisher had eight points, two assists and six turnovers. Tyree Evans had six turnovers and eight points.
Final team stats of note: Kent State shot 34 percent. Akron shot 44 percent. The Flashes outrebounded the Zips 41 to 34. Akron made only 5-of-23 3-pointers. Kent State was 4-of-14.
Final score -- Akron 68, Kent State 54
"Probably nobody has more respect for Kent State basketball than I have. Before the year's out, you'll see them in the mix. There was a lot of people who thought both of us was dead and out, but teams won't want to play either of us at the end."
"I feel bad for Geno because the expectation level is so high. They're going through some things, just like we are."
"That was a strange game today. The thing that disappointed me was that we missed a lot of open looks that could have popped the game open. We did a lot of the right things today. They tried to double-team the first pass. Our guys did a good job of not coughing it up. We coughed it up at the start of the second half. We did a good job of throwing it inside."
"I guess we're frontrunners. When things go poorly, we let things multiply. It's typical of a young group of guys. We've been in every game this year."
"We can turn on a dime. You just don't know what you're going to get. I like our team. I get frustrated at times because at times we can't do the things we've done in the past. But we try. We did a much better job today playing Akron basketball."
"We had to have this win. You can see we're fragile. How hard can you keep playing when you drop games you're supposed to win. Tonight, I think we took a good step."
On Tuesday's YSU game: "I think this team needs to play. Guys would rather play than practice."
"Al Fisher killed us last year. What we tried to do with Al Fisher was not let him beat us."
"You cannot let any of the three hit a homerun on you (Fisher, Evans and Singletary). I couldn't have drawn it up any better because the big three didn't kill us."
"This guy (Brett McKnight) is capable. We have to do a better job at coaching him. He had 15 points in eight minutes. That's one thing about the McKnight brothers. There is unbelievable allegiance between us. When things don't go well, there is no wavering where we are with each other."
"If you look at the history of this game, the team that takes poor shots loses. In our senior night here last year, we took poor shots and they clobbered us. The MAC Championship game last year was the exception. It's whoever gets over geeked up and takes bad shots."
"It's an unbelievable feeling to play Kent State."
"Those Ohio U guys fight you for position (down low). If they can do it, why can't we do it?"
"It gave us a lot of confidence when we started making the run. The atmosphere was unbelievable out there."
"My outside shooting hasn't been the greatest this year. Low-block position. I was taking it to their chin every time I got the ball."
"The 23-point game (against Pitt) I just got in the zone. I just got a lot deeper into the low block."
"We got a 1-point lead right there and we had four good looks and they didn't fall. They continued to score. All they had to do was get it into the McKnights. We didn't get them guarded at all. The only time they didn't score was when they didn't have it."
"We had Chris and Al battling foul trouble the second half so it was hard to get in the offensive flow. When we're at our offensive best, Chris has the ball in the mid-post."
"They played well. The McKnights were terrific. We tried a multitude of guys. They physically got decent position. We tried to dig it out of the post, but anytime we didn't force a turnover with our guards, they scored."
"Anthony Simpson was fantastic for us, but you're not going to win a rivalry game on the road when only one guy shows up."
"The big three have struggled, to be very honest. Today, they were 9-for-24. Reputation and production have to match up."
"We can't have a mentality that there is a lot of time left. Our backs are against the wall. In reality, we just need to get better. Right now, we have some players who are talented who aren't playing well. We have some deficiencies that we haven't covered up. If you're going to be competitive and have a good run, the time is low."
"We just have to find some consistent themes for our team. We just aren't sure if Al Fisher is going to have 26 points like he did against Buffalo or go 3-for-12 with six turnovers. And it's the same for every guy on the roster."
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