Kent State is starting to run low on chances for conference wins.
The Flashes are 4-8 in the MAC (11-13 overall). They’re tied for ninth in the conference. They have only one game left against a team was a worse record (Akron in two weeks).
Saturday they host a team that’s not too far above them in the standings — Ohio, which comes to Kent with a 6-5 conference record (12-10 overall). But OU has played a tougher schedule —31st hardest in the country, according to WarrenNolan.com, the RPI rating site I follow most closely. Kent’s schedule is rated 110th.
OU is coming off a couple of hard games, including a 74-72 defeat at the hands of league-leading Central Michigan on Wednesday. Last Saturday the Bobcats beat the No. 3 team in the conference, Ball State, 80-76. Both games were in Athens.
Ohio runs a four-guard offense and pays for it in rebounding, where the Bobcats are last in the conference at minus-7.7. But they make up for it in ball hawking, ranking second in the MAC in turnover margin (plus-5.45) and turnovers forced per game (21.8).
The turnover numbers are almost identical to those at Buffalo, which routed the Flashes 80-42 in Buffalo on Wednesday. But for one of the few times this season, the Flashes handled their opponent’s pressure, committing only 14 turnovers, tied for their second lowest of the season and the fewest against Buffalo all season.
But Kent State didn’t do much else well, shooting only 21 percent from the floor and being outrebounded 51-39. The rebounding struggles were unusual for the KSU this season as the Flashes are second in the conference in rebounding margin (plus-4.6).
But Buffalo has a strong, physical front line. Ohio does not. Ohio’s defense also isn’t statistically as strong as Buffalo’s, ranking 10th in field goal defense at 42.5 percent.
So if the Flashes can even get back to average in shooting, rebound as well as they have against similar teams and control their turnovers the way they did in Buffalo, they’ll have a shot Saturday.
Ohio’s leading scorer, freshman Cierra Hooks, comes off the bench and averages 14.3 points and 3.5 steals a game. Second leading scorer is sophomore guard Amani Burke at 12.6 and third is junior guard Dominique Doseck at 10.5. Doseck is Ohio’s top three–point shooter.
Kent State needs to get some scoring from its guards. Senior forward Jordan Korinek leads the Flashes and is second in the MAC at 22.5 points per game. But against Buffalo, Kent State’s guards combined for four baskets.
To follow the game
Action starts at 2 p.m. at the M.A.C. Center.
Video is on ESPN3. You can follow it online if your subscribe to ESPN on cable or on satellite.
Audio starts at about 1:45 p.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio and WHLO 640.
Live statistics will be available through the Kent State website.
Preview from the Kent State website, including links to statistics, roster, schedule/results, record book and more.
Preview from the Ohio website, including links.
MAC statistics, including standings.