Kent State (12-10) at Western Michigan (14-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 6, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: University Arena (5,421) -- Kalamazoo, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: KSU 7-6, WMU 7-1. Away Record: KSU 5-4, WMU 5-6. Neutral Record: KSU 0-0, WMU 2-0. Conference Record: KSU 3-5, WMU 6-2. Series Record: Kent State leads, 59-53.
GAME NOTES: The Western Michigan Broncos look to continue their winning streak as they welcome the Kent State Golden Flashes to University Arena for a Mid- American Conference matchup.
This will be the 113th meeting in history between these conference rivals on the hardwood. Kent State holds a 59-53 all-time series edge, but WMU is 35-19 in games played in Kalamazoo.
Rob Senderoff's Golden Flashes snapped a four-game losing steak on Saturday with a 77-62 decision over Eastern Michigan at home. The victory places KSU at a 12-10 overall record and in a four-way tie for third place in the East Division standings with a 3-5 mark in league action. The Golden Flashes are led primarily by the dynamic duo of Chris Evans and Randal Holt. Evans is posting team-highs of 16.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game while converting at the high-rate of 49.6 percent from the floor. Holt is shooting only 33.9 percent from the field to net 13.9 ppg. The tandem has helped KSU to the third highest scoring offense (69.5) in the conference, but it is just a middle of the road team on the other end of the court with an allowed average of 62.8 ppg.
Against EMU's league leading defense, Holt tallied 17 points and six assists while Evans contributed 15 points, five steals, and four rebounds. The Eagles were held to a mere 2-of-12 from long-range in the contest, while Kent State made 45.3 percent from the floor including nine 3-pointers on the night. The Golden Flashes had not surpassed the 70-point mark during its four-game losing slide. The Eagles' reserves outscored KSU's bench, 39-22, in the contest. However, the Golden Flashes' bench is outscoring their counterparts by just under five points per tilt.
Since falling to Akron and Ohio in its first two MAC games this season, WMU has reeled off six consecutive victories with the most previous coming in the form of a 71-60 win over Buffalo on Saturday. The hot streak has lifted the Broncos to a 14-7 overall record and a first-place, 6-2 standing in the West Division. Shayne Whittington has emerged as one of the league's top centers as he paces the team with 11.8 points and 1.7 blocks per outing. Nate Hutcheson (11.0 ppg), Darius Paul (10.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg), and Brandon Pokley (9.4 ppg) have all made significant contributions to the team's recent wave of success also. Although coach Steve Hawkins's squad is fifth in the MAC in scoring offense at 67.0 ppg, its bread and butter is a stifling defensive effort that is limiting the opposition to 62.3 ppg.
Whittington notched a double-double of 23 points and 14 boards in the victory over Buffalo on Saturday as WMU outrebounded the Bulls, 40-30, while the Broncos' bench held a 26-6 scoring advantage. Paul added 15 points and eight rebounds and David Brown scored 13 points off the bench on 4-of-6 shooting from the field. Brown is chipping in 10.8 ppg off the bench during the team's current streak thanks to his 43.3 percent accuracy from 3-point range. The collective effort has helped WMU out-produce its opposition by an average of 16.0 ppg during the past six games.
The Broncos will need to stay focused as they are becoming one of the teams in the MAC that will receive their opponent's best shot each time they take the floor. WMU handled Buffalo pretty well, but Kent State is a much more potent team offensively. The Broncos should be able to survive another league matchup as long as their play on the defensive end continues.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 68, Kent State 63
02/06 10:38:39 ET