Kent State (16-14) at Akron (19-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 7, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: James A. Rhodes Arena (5,500) -- Akron, Ohio. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: KSU 11-7, Akron 12-2. Away Record: KSU 5-7, Akron 6-7. Neutral Record: KSU 0-0, Akron 1-2. Conference Record: KSU 7-10, Akron 11-6. Series Record: Kent State leads, 71-68.
GAME NOTES: The Akron Zips will try to close out the regular season with a third straight victory, as they host the Kent State Golden Flashes in a Mid- American Conference clash at James A. Rhodes Arena on Friday night.
Akron knocked off Buffalo in an 83-71 final on Tuesday for its second consecutive win. The victory also pulled the Zips to within a game of the first-place Bulls in the MAC's East Division standings (11-5), and was their 12th triumph in 14 chances at home this season.
Kent State is not in the mix in the division, leading only Bowling Green in the East Division standings (7-10). The Golden Flashes are also just 16-14 overall, with losses in three of their last four games, including a 73-61 verdict at home against Miami-Ohio on Tuesday.
Although Akron has had the better overall season, Kent State claimed a victory when these teams met earlier this season. The Golden Flashes have won two of the last three meetings and lead the all-time series, 71-68.
Devareaux Manley scored 12 points in 30 minutes off the bench for Kent State in its recent loss to Miami. The Golden Flashes allowed a 52 percent shooting effort by the RedHawks, which included the 21 points they scored off of turnovers. At the other end, the Golden Flashes shot 41.5 percent from the field.
In past seasons, Kent State has been one of the more explosive offensive teams in the MAC, but that has not been true this time around. The Golden Flashes are netting a modest 70.3 ppg on 43.2 percent shooting. A real area of weakness is the glass, as the team ranks 10th in the conference in rebounding (33.4 rpg). Kris Brewer (11.9 ppg) and Derek Jackson (11.1 ppg) are the only players on the roster scoring in double figures, although Manley (9.8 ppg) has the ability to put up strong numbers. Neither Jackson nor Brewer played well against Miami, as they combined for just seven points on 3-of-17 shooting.
Quincy Diggs, who will be playing the final home game of his career tonight, tallied a game-high 25 points to lift Akron over Buffalo. As a team, the Zips drained 51.8 percent of their shots from the floor, while controlling the boards (36-28) and scoring 23 points off turnovers.
Akron has had more success in terms of wins and losses compared to Kent State, but it has also been a mediocre offensive team at best. The Zips are putting up 68 ppg on 42.8 percent shooting. However, they make up for it by tightening up on defense, allowing only 66.1 ppg on 43.1 percent shooting. Demetrius Treadwell (14.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg) is the primary offensive threat and the fourth- best rebounder in the MAC. He finished with 17 points and tied for a team-high with six rebounds against Buffalo. Diggs (12.4 ppg) is a solid second scoring option.
Kent State was only able to defeat Akron by a narrow 60-57 margin when these teams met on Feb. 1. Now that the Zips are the home team, expect the result to end in their favor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Akron 70, Kent State 63
03/07 10:32:53 ET