Flashes, coming off bye week, host 12-5 Buffalo Saturday

20191230_KSU_Hiram_halftime03

Nila Blackford is averaging 16.8 points a game in MAC play, eighth in the league, and making 49.2% of her shots, fourth in the conference. (Photo by Bob Christy from KSU website.)

Buffalo (3-3 and tied for sixth in MAC, 12-5 overall

at Kent State (3-2 and fifth in MAC, 9-6 overall)

1 p.m. Saturday at the M.A.C. Center. General admission tickets are $5. Students are free with Kent State ID. Kent State home attendance averages 1,450, fifth in MAC.


Coach Todd Starkey talks about the game, where team stands, the status of Megan Carter and improved play from KSU’s bench.


What’s at stake

Flashes are 3-2 in conference, half a game behind Ohio in MAC East and fifth overall. Buffalo is a half a game behind KSU and tied for sixth in conference.

If Flashes are to make a run at the top four in the the league and a first-round bye in the conference tournament, winning a home game against Buffalo is important.

Game is just as important to Buffalo except it’s on the road. The Bulls will host KSU in last game of season. Buffalo is coming off a 69-66 loss at Ball State Wednesday. Losing two in a row on the road would not be good.

(Bulls traveled from Ball State to Kent. They haven’t been on campus in five days.)

What to watch

Buffalo has the best freshman in the league in Dyaisha Fair, who is average 22.4 points a game. That’s second in the league. She’s also among MAC leaders in assists, rebounds, shooting percentage and 3–point baskets per game. Ball State held her to a season-low 11 points and 4 of 18 shooting.

At it usually does, Buffalo leads the conference in rebounding, especially offensive rebounding. Staying competitive on the boards will be important for Kent State.

Kent State didn’t play Wednesday because of a bye, so the team will have had extra time to rest and prepare for the Bulls. Flashes shot very well in winning their two games on the road last week, but Miami and Northern Illinois are tied for last in the league. KSU ranks fourth in the league in turnover margin while Buffalo is 11th in conference games. Ball State forced Buffalo into 18 turnovers Wednesday. Flashes may try to do the same.

Team comparisons

  • RPI: Kent State 109 of 351 Division I teams. Buffalo 79. (RPI is based on a team’s record and schedule strength.)
  • Power rankings: Kent State 117. Buffalo 77. (Adds factors like injuries, margin of victory, record in recent games.)
  • Kent State home record: 4-2. Buffalo road record: 3-4.

I’m switching other statistics to MAC games only. They show more clearly how a team is playing now and eliminate Power 5 opponents like Michigan, which KSU played in November, and Division II and III teams like Hiram, which KSU played in December.

  • Scoring average: KSU third in MAC at 72.6 points per game. Buffalo eighth at 67.7.
  • Defensive average: KSU seventh at 69.8. Buffalo sixth at 68.3.
  • Field-goal percentage: KSU eighth at 4o0.8 (sixth on 3-pointers at 32.7%). Buffalo ninth at 35.5 (10th on 3s at 29.5).
  • Field-goal defense: KSU last at 47.2 (last on 3s at 36.6%). Buffalo last at 44.1 (eight on 3s at 31.7).
  • Free-throw percentage: Kent State first at 77.8%. Buffalo third at 71.6.
  • Rebounding margin: KSU seventh at -1.0. Buffalo first at +6.5.
  • Turnover margin: KSU fourth at +2.2. Buffalo 11th at -4.3. KSU sixth in steals at 7.6. Buffalo fourth at 8.0.
  • Blocked shots: Kent State first at 4.8. Buffalo sixth at 2.7.

Top players

Kent State

  • 6-2 freshman forward Nila Blackford (16.8 points per game, 6.8 rebounds).
  • 5-4 sophomore guard Asiah Dingle (14.6 points, 2.8 assists, 2.0 steals).
  • 5-11 freshman guard Katie Shumate (13.8 points, 7/0 rebounds, 50% 3-point shooting).
  • 6-2 sophomore forward Lindsey Thall (8.6 points, fifth in MAC in 3-point percentage at 33.3% 3-point shooting, , 2.8 blocked shots).
  • 5-6 senior guard Megan Carter (13.8 points, 90% foul shooting). (Carter has missed three games because of illness but may play Saturday.)

Buffalo

  • 5-5 freshman guard Dyaisha Fair (19.8 points, 5.0 assists, 5.4 rebounds).
  • 5-10 senior guard Therese Onwuka (11.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks).
  • 5-3 senior guard Hanna Hall (9.0 points, 3.2 assists).

Following the game from home

Video stream on ESPN3 starts at game time at 1 p.m. It’s free if you have a subscription to ESPN on cable, satellite or on the ESPN app. David Wilson is the announcer.

Audio starts at about 12:45 p.m. on WHLO 640 and Golden Flash iHeart Radio.

Live statistics will be on the Kent State website during the game.

Links

Kent State website, with links to roster, statistics schedule and more.

Buffalo website, with links.

MAC statistics.

MAC standings.

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