KENT: With only three games left in the regular season, the Kent State men’s basketball team enters Saturdays game at Miami hoping to avoid the turnovers that plagued it earlier this week.
Golden Flashes coach Rob Senderoff watched his team’s second-half lead Tuesday at Buffalo wither away into an eventual 87-70 loss. The Flashes (18-10, 9-6 Mid-American Conference) were outscored 51-37 after the break and allowed a 14-0 run — a harsh reminder of a similar second-half collapse earlier in the year against Buffalo.
The Flashes had 15 turnovers in Tuesday’s loss, which Senderoff said was a primary factor in their defeat. When the Bulls forced the turnovers, they’d create a number of mismatches at the other end of the court, including some instances of four Buffalo players trying to score against just one KSU defender.
“Too many turnovers led to transition baskets for them,” Senderoff said. “They got on a roll and we just had a tough time. We just couldn’t get stops and a lot of that had to do with our turnovers.”
Although their record might not show it, the RedHawks (10-18, 4-11) have a defense that can force turnovers just like the Bulls did on Tuesday. Miami toppled East Division-leader Akron 77-64 Tuesday when the Zips turned the ball over 16 times.
Senderoff said the RedHawks’ victory wasn’t a fluke but simply an upset that can happen every night in the MAC.
“I said this the other day to somebody — There’s very few leagues in America where the last-place team beats the first-place team. But in this league, that happens just about every year,” Senderoff said. “Miami is a very, very dangerous team. In order for us to win, we’ve really got to take care of the basketball at a high level.”
The RedHawks deploy two guards — seniors Eric Washington and Geovonie McKnight — who each average more than 12 points a game. Sophomore guard Abdoulaye Harouna is also expected to be a factor after he recorded 13 second-half points in the RedHawks’ win over the Zips.
“You’ve got to keep guys out of the lane and off the foul line, and those kids especially are as good at getting in the paint as anyone,” Senderoff, whose team defeated Miami 76-68 in the teams’ first meeting, said. “Our ball-screen defense has to be good.”
Senderoff added that bench play is going to continue to be important for the Flashes, who are still compensating after foot injuries sidelined guards Xavier Pollard and Jaylin Walker.
“[Bench play] was one of our biggest strengths earlier in the year,” Senderoff said. “It’s hard to play guys night in and night out for 35-plus minutes. We absolutely need production off the bench, for sure.”
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