Flashes face big home test Thursday vs. Wright State, No. 23 in Mid-Major poll

Kent State has a 6-3 record, and I’m still not sure how good this team is.

We may find out tonight.

The Flashes (6-3) host Wright State, which is 6-2 and ranked 23rd in this week’s CollegeInsider’s Mid-Major poll. The game starts at 7 p.m. at the M.A.C. Center.

KSU is in a similar place to where it was when it traveled to Wright State with a 4-4 records last season. The Flashes started that game with three of their best quarters of the year and hung on to beat the Raiders 79-69, breaking an 18-game road losing streak. Wright State finished last season 25-9 and second in the Horizon League.

Kent State went on to be a solid road team, finishing the year 7-7 on opponents’ home court. So far this season the Flashes are 3-0 on the road.

But the three wins have come against teams with a combined 3-17 record. So far the Flashes haven’t beaten any team that has won more than two games.

Wright State has beaten one team with a winning record (5-4 Stetson) and won its last two games against teams with a combined 0-15 record. But the Raiders came within two points of No. 23 Missouri on the road and five points of Providence (currently 6-4) at the Savannah Invitational.

When Kent State has played upper-tier competition, it has lost by double digits, playing well in spots but not enough to challenge Stanford, Florida Gulf Coast and Gonzaga in the end.

The fact that it’s a home game — only Kent State’s second of the season — should help the Flashes. Wright State has played only one true road game, at Missouri.

The Raiders are led by 5-9 senior guard Chelsea Welch, an all-Horizon player last season who is averaging 20.3 points and 4.9 assists so far this year. Three other players average in double figures; a fourth averages 9.3. None of Wright State’s starters reach 6 feet tall, but the Raiders are outrebounding opponents by 11 a game.

Kent State has an average plus-five rebounding margin this season and got a huge lift Tuesday from 6-4 junior center Merissa Barber-Smith, who had 15 rebounds in KSU’s 65-57 overtime win at Eastern Kentucky.

Kent State’s leading rebounder is grad student forward McKenna Stephens, who averages 6.2 a game. Guard Alexa Golden averages 5.3 and senior forward Jordan Korinek 5.1. For Korinek, KSU’s tallest starter at 6-3, that’s at least a rebound a game below her average last two seasons. She’s had more than five rebounds only twice.

Korinek, a second-team all-MAC player last season, leads the team in scoring at 19.6 points per game.

To follow the game

Play starts at 7 p.m. at the MACC.

Video is on ESPN3. You can watch it online if you subscribe to ESPN on cable or satellite TV.

Audio starts at about 6:45 p.m on Golden Flash Radio.

Live statistics will be available through the Kent State website.

Preview from the Kent State website, which has links to statistics, roster, schedule/results, record book, and more.

Preview from the Wright State website, also with links.

MAC statistics.


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