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I just suffered through the most hellish two hours you'd ever want to experience. I am here, despite my series of unfortunate incidents. I promised a liveblog. You'll get a liveblog. I will go over the details of my evening as the second half progresses.
At the half, Akron leads 34-27. Stats of note:
Humpty Hitchens and a couple Cardinals have a game-high six points.
Darryl Roberts has three assists and no turnovers.
Nate Linhart has already grabbed seven rebounds.
Back to my story... I arrived at Rhodes Arena 70 minutes before gametime. I opened my laptop and it wouldn't turn on. I played with the battery, the charger, the fan. Nothing. I dashed off to Best Buy for repairs. A law student losing his laptop is tantamount to a surgeon spraining his wrist. So, yes, I wanted to blog tonight. More importantly, I had about 50 very important documents in jeopardy.
Tom Gaffney thinks Akron should be beating Ball State by a lot more. To me, it looks like the Cardinals are playing solid defense and are playing methodically on offense. It sort of sounds like Akron's gameplan.
Back to my story... I get to Best Buy, fortunate enough not to wait in line at Geek Squad. The geek fiddles with my battery some, pulls it out, hits the power button, replaces the batter, and voila! We're back online. The problems didn't end there.
Jimmy Conyers has worked his way back into the lineup, at least momentarily. He has seven points.
Elton Alexander is not at tonight's game.
Gregg Bach tells me that Elton is at a mock NCAA Selection Committee meeting. It's a function for the media to learn how teams get into the Big Dance. The Plain Dealer, showing its commitment to Akron, sent a replacement writer to the game. I am excited to hear about this event from Elton.
Back to my story... I get into my car, and it goes haywire. First, it won't go into reverse. The shifter goes directly from "park" to "neutral." I drive a temperamental '99 Land Rover which is starting to show its age. I pop the hood and stare blankly, as the rain pours down. I read the owner's manual and call my dad, who is the previous owner. He meets me in the Best Buy parking lot and we get drenched in rain water. It continues...
This has been an up-and-down game. In past years, we would dismiss it as a
Keith Dambrot team toying with the opponent on the impenetrable Rhodes Arena floor. This year, it's easier to worry about an imminent choke. I think a choke is inevitable, but it probably won't happen tonight.
Jarrod Jones picked up his fourth foul. The freshman star has nine rebounds and seven points.
Rob Giles is shooting Ball State back into the game. He is 5-of-6 on 3-pointers.
Back to my story... While I'm getting my second shower of the day, I get this severe cramp in my stomach. Let's just say that wasn't pretty. After an extended visit to the nearest commode, my dad traded cars with me and I raced to Rhodes Arena with two extra pounds of water weight, less dignity, but a lot nicer car. (Dad drives an Audi.)
Hitchens just made a crucial play. He tipped the ball away from a Ball State guard and started a fastbreak that concluded with a Linhart tip-in. It extended Akron's lead to six with three minutes to play.
Ball State stole the ball on an Akron inbound pass and hit a 3 to cut the lead to five with 1:30 to go. The team is 7-for-13 on 3s tonight. That's an unbelievable 54 percent rate.
Roberts drilled two free throws to extend the lead to seven with less than a minute left. Roberts got a floor-burn rebound on the other end.
I am really impressed with Ball State's rebounding ability. They also have a lot of guys who are willing to swipe and dive for the ball. That doesn't quite jive with the Cardinals' status of last in the league in steals.
Final stats of note: Giles led both teams with 17 points.
Chris McKnight led Akron with 13. Jones grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Linhart was close behind with 11. Here is an indication of how the night went for Akron's offense: nine assists, 13 turnovers, 38 percent shooting and 29 percent on 3s. Ball State was similar, except for the Cardinals' 47 percent on 3-pointers.
Final score --Akron 63, Ball State 55
"We were talking in the locker room, and coach told us that early in the year, we probably would have lost that game."
"It was good for us. Now we have to be able to play and know that it could be a dog fight."
"They play inside-out a lot. They like to suck in (on defense). Against teams like that, you have to be able to shoot the ball. I don't think we did that."
"Nate, earlier in the year was trying to score. I was trying to score. Coach said we are scoring less, but doing more."