Youngstown State (6-1) at Kent State (6-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 27, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: M.A.C. Center (6,327) -- Kent,Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: YSU 3-0, Kent State 5-0. Away Record: YSU 1-1, Kent State 1-1. Neutral Record: YSU 2-0, Kent State 0-0. Conference Record: YSU 0-0, Kent State 0-0. Series Record: Kent State leads, 28-17.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Buckeye State rivals will attempt to keep their respective hot starts alive on Wednesday night, as the Kent State Golden Flashes play host to the Youngstown State Penguins.
Youngstown State has lost just one of its first seven bouts to open up the season, as it dropped a tough road matchup against a very good UMass team on Nov. 17, 85-69. The Penguins had an undefeated showing at the Kennesaw State Tournament on opening weekend, but their last two wins have both come in cupcake matchups at home versus Division III schools, Thiel (82-58) and Westminster (108-57).
Kent State is also off to an outstanding 6-1 start, and it has won 13 of its last 16 games dating back to last season. The Golden Flashes hosted regional- round play of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic late last week and came away with three wins in three days over Western Carolina (72-59), USC Upstate (79-78) and Niagara (102-97).
The Golden Flashes hold a 28-17 edge over their intrastate rival, which includes victories in five straight meetings.
The Penguins were able to easily dismiss Westminster over the weekend by shooting 45.9 percent from the field and 87.1 percent from the free-throw line, while crushing their opponent on the glass with a 66-20 rebounding advantage. Bobby Hain tallied 16 points and nine boards to lead the way, while Marcus Keene (15 points) and Kendrick Perry (13 points) both handed out six assists in the easy win. These last two victories over D-III programs have certainly padded YSU's stats, as it's posting eye-popping margins in scoring (+18.7), rebounding (+10.6) and turnovers (+4.4). Perry (17.3 ppg) paces a squad that nets 83.6 points per game and stuffs the stat sheet elsewhere with 4.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.0 steals per game. Kamren Belin, Ryan Weber, Marcus Keene and Hain all score between 10.7 and 11.6 points per game to round out the balanced attack.
In a high-scoring affair last Saturday, Kent State was able to outlast Niagara by shooting a lofty 60.7 percent from the field, while also taking advantage of its ample opportunities at the foul line (26-of-33). Pacing five players in double figures was Mark Henniger, who did not miss a shot from the field (6- of-6) or the foul line (8-of-8) on his way to 20 points. K.K. Simmons netted 18 points off the bench, while Kris Brewer (16 points), Devareaux Manley (14 points) and Darren Goodson (10 points, six assists) were also impressive. The Golden Flashes have gotten into a few shootouts in the first month of the season, which explains inflated scoring offense (81.3 ppg) and scoring defense (70.7 ppg). All five starters score at least 9.3 points per game, with Brewer (12.4 ppg) leading the way. Manley (11.3 ppg) and Derek Jackson (11.3 ppg) have combined to shoot 29-of-63 from 3-point range, while Goodson (10.1 ppg) gets his teammates involved with 3.7 assists per contest.
Both teams appear to be legitimate contenders in the mid-major ranks this season, but Kent State gets the edge playing at home. Youngstown State may be a step slow in this one considering it hasn't played a worthy opponent in more than a week.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kent State 80, Youngstown State 73
11/27 10:40:37 ET