Cleveland State (7-6) at Kent State (9-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 28, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Athletic & Convocation Center (6,327) -- Kent, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: CSU 6-1, Kent State 7-1. Away Record: CSU 1-5, Kent State 2-1. Neutral Record: CSU 0-0, Kent State 0-0. Conference Record: CSU 0-0, Kent State 0-0. Series Record: Kent State leads, 26-22.
GAME NOTES: Off to a sparkling start to the season, the Kent State Golden Flashes aim to continue their success against in-state rival Cleveland State tonight in a non-conference matchup.
Strong defense has been the main reason for the positive early results for the Golden Flashes. They are limiting opponents to 57 ppg on only 38 percent shooting this month, while forcing 16 turnovers per contest. They're coming off a 58-54 victory at the College of Charleston a week ago. Kris Brewer led all scorers with 20 points, including the game-winning 3-point play with 1:03 remaining. Brewer shot 7-of-13 from the field for Kent State. Darren Goodson came off the bench to register 10 points, while Derek Jackson hauled in nine rebounds.
Kent State coach Rob Senderoff has kept his players fresh by constantly substituting during games. Only two players are averaging 25 minutes per game on the season. Another reason for the success is Kent State has four players shooting 80 percent or better from the foul line. Brewer (12.2 ppg) leads the way on offense for the Golden Flashes, while Jackson (10.8 ppg), Goodson (10.5 ppg), Devareaux Manley (9.3 ppg) are also big contributors for a team that ranks second in scoring among all MAC squads (76.1 ppg). Mark Henniger (5.1 rpg) paces the team on the glass.
Former Kent State head coach Gary Waters has his Vikings on a victory surge. Cleveland State has won three of its last four games coming into tonight, with the most recent triumph coming on Monday, 89-42, vs. LaRoche. Cleveland State surged to a 28-2 lead in that game and received 19 points from Anton Grady, 17 from Trey Lewis and 16 from Bryn Forbes, who ranks fourth in the Horizon League in scoring (17.8 ppg). Point guard Charlie Lee (10.7 ppg), who has made 27 straight free throws, is one of four players averaging double figures. Lewis (13.9) and Jon Harris (10.1) are the others.
Waters has employed five different starting lineups this season with Grady, Mason and Forbes being consistent starters. Grady, who starts at power forward, has contributed 9.3 points, and his 5.1 rebounds are second on the team behind Harris (6.2 rpg).
A win tonight would give the Golden Flashes their first 10-2 start since the 2007-08 season, which was the last time Kent State reached the NCAA Tournament. The road team has won the last three matchups in this series, but Kent State just has too many offensive weapons for the Vikings to overcome in this contest.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kent State 70, Cleveland State 64
12/28 10:31:56 ET