University of Akron coach John Groce openly second-guessed himself after Saturday’s 64-62 overtime loss to Miami.

The moment of reflection for Groce came after realizing he played three of his players — Jimond Ivey, Malcolm Duvivier and Daniel Utomi, who earned MAC East Division player of the week Monday — more than 40 minutes each in the game.

Considering the play of those three is key to any success for the Zips in the coming weeks, he probably shouldn’t worry too much about that fact.

“I probably should have got them out a little bit more — that’s on me,” Groce said after the loss. “I felt like we needed those three guys, and I may have gassed them a little bit.

“They know they’re playing a lot of minutes right now, obviously. It’s my responsibility to put them in a position to be successful.”

As UA prepares for a road game with Mid-American Conference East Division-leading Buffalo at 7 p.m. Tuesday, two of those players said they don’t care about the mileage being added this time of year.

“What type of player is going to complain about playing too much?” Utomi, a 6-6 sophomore forward, said. “That’s really [the coach’s] decision. I’m fine with the minutes I’m playing.”

Ivey agreed.

“We’re probably looking at that,” the 6-5 junior guard said, expecting it to continue. “All I know is in those 40-something minutes, I have to play better. I have to make more plays and I have to get my team involved better.”

Ivey has struggled over the past three games, connecting on 9-of-33 of his shot attempts.

“I’m thinking about it a little too much,” he said. “I just have to get back in my groove, get back in my mode and just play better. It’s as simple of that. No excuses. No reason I haven’t been making shots.”

The Zips certainly need all three playing their best ball of the season if the team wants to carry any momentum heading into the MAC Tournament next week.

But it will require even more than that, they said.

“Obviously, us three, we all have to play well in order for this year’s team to have a chance at winning,” Utomi said. “It’s really on everybody. Everybody can defend. It just starts with us three.”

Ivey added: “I wouldn’t say everything is reliant on us because if that’s the case, we aren’t going to go far. We need everyone to step up and do their jobs.”

However Groce handles the situation, he said he understands he will have to balance being more watchful of his players’ minutes with another reality.

“Our margin for error is small,” he said. “Every possession, we have to value it. We have to value every minute of the game.”

George M. Thomas can be reached at gmthomas@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Zips blog at www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.