Northern Illinois, Kent’s Saturday opponent, scores the fewest points in the MAC (53.6). It has the second lowest field goal percentage (36%) in the conference and the lowest three-point field goal percentage (22%).
Kent State, unfortunately, isn’t much better. The Flashes score the second fewest points (55.1). The Flashes have shot the ball better — 40 percent on field goals overall, 27 percent on three-pointers.
A difference, however, is that NIU has the best defense in the conference statistically. It gives up only 54.9 points per game. It has held opponents to 38 percent shooting (seventh best in the MAC) and 29 percent on three-pointers, (eighth best). (As I look at those statistics, I suspect part the reason of NIU’s low average is because it takes them longer to get shots off.)
Kent State coach Danny O’Banion called their defense “tremendous” in her radio interview after KSU’s loss to Ball State Wednesday.
She did say NIU played almost total man-to-man defense, which she said would be good for the Flashes. Kent State overwhelmingly has faced zone defenses for several seasons because it doesn’t score well from outside. Against a man to man, Kent State’s taller front line may be able to score more.
But in any event, we shouldn’t expect a shootout in Dekalb on Saturday.
Northern Illinois is 5-8, 1-2 in the MAC and 3-1 at home. Its MAC victory came at home in overtime against Eastern Michigan, which is 0-3 and 7-7 overall.
Kent State is 3-12, 1-3 in the MAC and 1-7 on the road.
Northern Illinois’ tallest starter is 6-1 freshman Renee Sladek, who averages 8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. None of its other starters are taller than 5-11. Two of its starting guards are 5-6. Kent center Cici Shannon, who is 6-4, and forward Jordan Korinek, who is 6-2, have done well against smaller line-ups this season.
The game starts at 2 p.m. and will be on ESPN3, which you can get on computer if you’re get ESPN on cable or DirectTV. Audeo starts on Golden Flash iHeart Radio at 1:50 p.m. Kent time.