University of Akron Zips blog
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Kent State is a four-point favorite today. Remember that today we spring forward our clocks. Don't miss the noon gametime for that reason.
As GoZips88 pointed out, I forgot to preview today's game. This is mostly because I follow Kent State so closely and I assume many you do, as well.
I'm laying in bed now, but I will be at the M.A.C. Center in an hour to blog on site
The PD's Elton Alexander previewed the game, comparing Akron to prior MAC Champions. Tom Gaffney talks about Kent State's strategy of limiting Brett McKnight to fewer than the 29 points he scored in the last meeting.
This year's media arrangement is better because I have a power outlet, which means I can blog without glancing at my battery meter. However, we are sitting behind the student section below the suites, so the view isn't as good.
The MAC women's bracket came out today. The Zips will play Central Michigan Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Put this story in your must-read list: Elton Alexander participated in a mock NCAA Tournament Selection Committee meeting. He discussed the process in depth and gave his overall impressions. As you listen to Joe Lunardi etc. from ESPN talk about "Bracketology," remember that each analyst is one person. The Committee, by its numbers, weeds out individual biases and preferences for a particular statistic.
Today is Kent's Senior Day. The honorees were Al Fisher, Jordan Mincy and Julian Sullinger. I didn't know this, but Mincy set a MAC record for most games played during a career.
Akron starters: Nate Linhart, Chris McKnight, Humpty Hitchens, Nik Cvetinovic and Darryl Roberts. Kent starters: Mincy, Fisher, Sullinger, Anthony Simpson and Chris Singletary.
Linhart got knocked down and stayed down for a minute. He was really angry when he got up. I couldn't tell what happened from my vantage point. The refs looked at the replay. They ejected Singletary out for whatever act of violence he committed. Brett McKnight capitalized on both technical free throws. The Akron fans and players are really pumped up.
It's hard to be a dispassionate writer during these Kent-Akron games. I have never shied away from my disdain for Kent State. Here is some background about me. I live in Stow, about eight minutes from Kent's campus and 20 minutes from Akron's campus. I studied journalism, a field in which Kent State is clearly superior to Akron. I even rooted for Kent State's basketball team during their NCAA Tournament appearances. Heck, Stan Heath was a neighbor of mine.
But I didn't even bother applying to Kent State. It seemed to me that the Kent State was the place to go to school if you didn't really have a gameplan for your life. Oh, and I can't stand hippies. I didn't like that Akron had no admission requirements, which hurts the school's reputation. It wasn't enough to overcome the problems I had with Kent.
Apparently, Singletary punched Linhart in the stomach. Gaffney got a phone call from someone who described it for him. It must have been vicious to merit an ejection without Geno Ford's objection. This isn't Singletary's debut in acts of impropriety. I don't know Singletary personally, but that is a thuggish maneuver. He will maintain that reputation during his entire senior season.
Akron is playing with composure and getting great looks on offense. Unlike years past, Kent's strength is offense, but they have been sloppy and have missed open 3s. As long as the Zips keep the game's pace slow, Kent will struggle to find a rhythm.
Brett McKnight picked up his second foul with 8:31 left in the first half. That is a big deal because we probably won't see McKnight until the second half.
I admire Singletary as a player. He is a strong forward who doesn't let his height deter him from being very effective in the post. I also admire Mincy for his pesky defense. Fisher, too, is a favorite of mine for being a point guard who scores, rather than a shooting guard who runs the point. Simpson has a lot of upside, as well. Those are the four players I would steal from Kent State.
That brings me to Tyree Evans, who just blew a dunk. In watching a handful of Kent's games, I can't see how scouts rated him so highly. If he was just some normal recruit, I don't think he would be playing 28 minutes per game. He is shooting well from 3, but he has three times more turnovers than assists. Despite being 6-foot-3, he averages only 2.1 rebounds per game. You can play an entire game on your spine and gather that many boards.
Sullinger and Hitchens got scrappy with each other on a loose ball. It was a jump ball that went to Akron.
Kent State is playing the dreaded 2-3 zone. The Flashes' problem is not rotating quickly enough or boxing out. It hasn't phased Akron yet.
Some of the Akron fans brought their "Beat Kent State" rags, which UA gave out before the first game.
Chris McKnight picked up his second foul. Mincy and Evans also have two.
Some Akron fans infiltrated the Kent student section and unveiled a sign reading "Felons 'R' Us." The Akron student section enjoyed it. I didn't see this personally, but Evan Meyer of MACReportOnline.com gave me the low-down.
The other MAC games all start at 2 p.m. Here is the link for ESPN.com's scoreboard.
Brett McClanahan made his first 3-point attempt, which might have been a curse. He is not a good shooter when he fades away or his feet aren't set. The confidence of his first made 3 turned him into Kobe Bryant, in shot selection alone.
It's not hard to see who Evans' favorite pro is. He wears the No. 0 and he swings the ball around his back before shooting a free throw. Do you know who I'm referring to?
Kent rode an 8-2 run into halftime. You knew it was coming.
Halftime stats of note: Hitchens leads both teams with eight points. Sullinger has eight rebounds. Akron is shooting 32 percent and 18 percent on 3s. Kent State is 36 percent, but only 8-for-14 from the line and 1-for-7 on 3s. Kent State leads the rebounding battle, 25-16.
Do you have an answer for the trivia question? Gilbert Arenas also wears No. 0 and goes around the back with the ball before shooting free throws. Here's a key distinction: Arenas was a walk-on at Arizona who built his game and reputation after everyone told him he couldn't do it. Evans had his ticket punched from Day One, but he has been a knucklehead and tried to ruin it for himself.
Cvetinovic made the first 3-pointer of his career. It was only his second attempt. Roberts followed it with another 3. Evans answered with one of his own.
Mincy is the first player on either team to join the three-foul club. That is a problem considering his aggressive defensive style.
Kent State updates its scoreboard almost simultaneous with the ball going through the net. You'd think it was one of those Pop-a-Shot arcade games.
Brett McKnight committed his third foul in going for a loose ball.
I hoped to kill a second bird this afternoon by researching for tonight's fantasy baseball draft during the game. My strategy generally has been to load up on starting pitchers and relievers, then go after some speed and some power.
It looks like Ford has told Fisher to take the game over offensively. In the past five possessions, the Flashes are barely moving the ball. It's a Fisher drive, and maybe a pass if Akron double teams him. Roberts continues to guard Fisher, despite having three fouls. In fact, Brett McKnight is still on the floor with his three fouls, too.
Kent State is about to go on a run. I can sense it from the flow of the game and the fans.
Chris McKnight joined his brother and Roberts with three fouls.
Fisher pulled up and hit a mid-range jumper to give Kent State its first lead since 5-4. Fisher drove past Linhart to extend the lead to three.
Elton Alexander says the MAC Player of the Year is Michael Bramos. I vehemently disagree. Bramos has been very inconsistent over his entire career, and especially this season. He's not even one of the five most talented players in the league. If Kent State does well in the tournament, I'd give it to Fisher. If not, I'd go with Jerome Tillman.
Brett McKnight and Roberts each have four fouls now.
Kent State is in the bonus, meaning for every ticky-tack foul on a loose ball, the Flashes are shooting.
Steve McNees drained a deep triple to bring Akron within one. "Triple" is a Michael Reghi copyrighted term. McNees attempted an even longer 3 on the next possession, which clanked back to him. Fisher forced a subsequent five-second call.
A long media timeout might have swung the momentum. Linhart nailed a 3 from the same spot as McNees' triple to give Akron a two-point lead with six minutes left. Brett McKnight followed it with his own 3.
Brandon Parks rebounded a missed Fisher 3 with a put-back. Akron has done a poor job of boxing out. The Flashes have 16 offensive rebounds. That is a lot. Akron has rebounded well offensively, but the Zips only have nine.
An Akron win might complete a school-year sweep of Kent State in basketball and football. The teams could meet in the MAC Tournament, and maybe as soon as Thursday.
Sullinger fouled Brett McKnight, giving Sullinger four and Kent State seven this half.
Mike McKee swished a 3 to re-tie the game. Hitchens reminded fans of his clutch foul shooting by knocking down two to break the tie.
I guess McKee's foot was on the line. He was only awarded two on that deep jumper.
Hitchens got in trouble and threw the ball away. Linhart fouled McKee to prevent the fast break layup. McKee made both anyhow.
In an effort to trap Hitchens with the ball, Sullinger bowled over the Zips' guard and fouled out. Brett McKnight and Roberts are also on the brink of that fate. Hitchens made one of two to give Akron a two-point lead with a minute left.
The Flashes pushed the ball off Hitchens' missed foul shot. McKee splashed a 3-pointer to give Kent the lead with 54 seconds left. If Kent wins, that's your play of the game.
Akron turned the ball over in trying to get the ball to Brett McKnight in the low post. Akron fouled Fisher who made both. The Flashes are on a 6-0 run.
Hitchens drove and found Chris McKnight under the hoop. Kent fouled McKnight, who made one of two.
Akron trapped Fisher in the corner. Fisher called Kent's final timeout. The Flashes will inbound the ball with 10 seconds left, holding a two-point lead. Akron must take an aggressive swipe at the ball, then foul quickly.
The Flashes successfully inbounded to Evans, whom the Zips fouled. Evans made both to extend the lead to four and seal the Kent State win.
Kent State and Akron are both 10-6. Either Miami or Buffalo will join them. That leaves either Miami or Buffalo and probably Bowling Green tied for first at 11-5. It is likely that three teams will fight for one bye. Akron split the season series with every team in the MAC East, so the first tiebreaker won't help. It might come down to that convoluted second tiebreaker.
Final score -- Akron 63, Kent State 67
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