Poor Defense Would Lead to a Blowout Loss For the Flashes In Rivalry Game Against Akron

Written by on February 9, 2019

With 7:56 to go before a media timeout, Kent State center Akiean Frederick would get the ball stuck in the rim going up for a bucket. Stuck, that would be the mood of the night at James A. Rhodes Arena for the Kent State Men’s basketball team as they fell 72-53. Kent State is now (17-6, 6-4 MAC) play, while Akron catches up them in the conference standings at (14-9, 6-4).

The Zips came into the game 14th in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing 62.4 points per game. The Zips would show shutdown defense in the first half, allowing the Flashes to have only 30 points. Kent State had only two assisted baskets in the first half.

The first half was excitingly close with these two rivals exchanging lead after lead. Familiar faces and unfamiliar faces would take precedent for Kent State in the first half.

Rob Senderoff would bench Jaylin Walker, Akiean Frederick, and Mitch Peterson early in the first half after miscommunication on the floor, as well as foul trouble. BJ Duling, from Newark, Ohio, would get key minutes as Akiean Frederick would get into foul trouble early. Duling checked in and got a quick layup with a foul, finishing with four points and three rebounds

Akron had the momentum going into the second half with the score being Akron 31 Kent State 30 at the half. The Flashes got hot early in the second half. Center Philip Whittington would start the first half off with a bucket. Then, Jalen Avery would follow his lead with a three as Akron called a timeout with 17:36 left in the second half.

Then disaster would strike for the Flashes as an Akron team that is notorious for shooting mass amounts of threes went bananas. Akron is 21st in the country in attempted threes. They shot 41.7 percent from three last night. Akron’s leading scorer in this game was Long Beach State transfer Loren Cristian Jackson. He was 3-10 from three but still scored 18. The behind the arch architects for the Zips in this game were Daniel Utomi and Tyler Cheese. Cheese was doing everything but cutting it up for Akron as he dropped 15 points, as his teammate Utomi dropped 14.  

Kent State went three whole minutes without scoring and had little to no team cohesiveness.

“We just struggled tonight,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “We had two assists at halftime. We’re not going to win many games with five assists. That’s the bottom line.”

Kent State would fall 72-53, but the storyline from this game is the health of point guard Jalen Avery. Avery would fall in pain after hitting a jumper and would exit the game at the near end of the second half.

“He twisted his ankle, so I would like to think he would be ok, but we will have to see,” Senderoff said. “He tried to go back in the game, but we were down 17. If we were down two he probably would’ve kept playing.”

With this major rivalry game defeat Kent State ties Akron at third in the MAC east standings.

The all time series is now 76-75 with Kent State continuing to have a tortured history as a program on the road in Akron. Their record playing on the road in this storied series is now 24-42.

“We splintered and didn’t play the way needed to play,” Senderoff said. “We have the ability to be a good team, but when we’re not playing well you saw what happened.”

Akron will take on 23rd ranked Buffalo at home Tuesday, while the Flashes will make up the polar vortex cancelled game this Thursday in Kalamazoo as they take on Western Michigan.

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