Kent State (18-12) at Akron (24-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 8, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: James A. Rhodes Arena (5,500) -- Akron, Ohio. Television: EPSN 2. Home Record: Kent State 11-6, Akron 15-0. Away Record: Kent State 7-6, Akron 7-4. Neutral Record: Kent State 0-0, Akron 2-1. Conference Record: Kent State 8-7, Akron 14-1. Series Record: Kent State leads, 69-67.
GAME NOTES: The regular season draws to a close for a pair of Mid-American Conference programs on Friday night, as the Kent State Golden Flashes clash with the Akron Zips at Rhodes Arena.
The Zips, who only last week were enjoying the longest win streak in the nation, have already locked up the regular-season title in the MAC, just the third team to win back-to-back crowns in the last three decades in the league.
Akron, a perfect 15-0 at home this season, bounced back from a devastating loss to Buffalo on the road last weekend (81-67) by posting a 72-58 victory against Miami-Ohio on Tuesday night for the squad's 20th win in 21 opportunities.
On Thursday night, it was announced that Akron starting guard Alex Abreu had been suspended indefinitely due to an arrest on drug charges.
Meanwhile, the Golden Flashes they have now won four straight and six of the last seven outings thanks to a 69-61 win over Bowling Green three nights ago. With the victory, KSU is now locked into the fourth spot in the impending MAC Tournament.
Akron won the first meeting of the campaign back in January by a score of 71-67, which means the all-time series now shows the Flashes ahead by a 69-67 margin even though the Zips have won five in a row.
Kent State's Chris Evans filled up his stat line a few nights back as he registered 12 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and three steals in the win over Bowling Green. Randal Holt led all scorers with 16 points, followed by Darren Goodson and Kris Brewer with 12 and 11 points, respectively, as the team not only shot a decent 9-of-20 behind the 3-point line, it also held the Falcons without a single conversion on the perimeter on nine attempts.
Playing just over 33 minutes per game, Evans is given plenty of time and opportunity to boost his numbers and he has taken advantage by leading the team in both scoring (16.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.7 rpg), not to mention placing first with 61 steals and 21 blocked shots. Holt, who continues to build on the school's all-time record for 3-pointers made, checks in with 14.5 ppg thanks to his 79-of-203 showing beyond the arc.
Akron led by just three points at the break against the RedHawks earlier this week, but in the second half the offense made good on 53.6 percent from the floor in order to begin pulling away. Except for Brian Walsh who finished with seven points, every starter for Akron landed in double figures, beginning with Zeke Marshall with his 14 points, to go along with eight boards, five assists and 3 blocks. Nick Harney added 13 points, Abreu 12 and Demetrius Treadwell 10 points for the hosts.
On a team that is outscoring the opposition by more than 11 ppg on average, the Zips take their lead from Marshall who is putting up 12.9 ppg on the strength of his 66.7 percent shooting from the floor. Treadwell adds another 11.2 ppg and is also shooting the ball well at a 51.5 percent clip, mainly because he spends so much time in the paint where he has accounted for 7.5 rpg at this juncture in the season as well.
At some point the Zips will have their home winning streak come to an end and seeing as how the team has already locked up the top spot in the MAC Tournament this might be an opportunity to run out some of the reserves, but still the talent level favors Akron even with the loss of Abreu.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Akron 71, Kent State 62
03/08 10:33:16 ET