A Golden rivalry
Bulls look for offensive spark against MAC rival
In its Mid-American Conference home opener, the men's basketball team put on a performance last Saturday reminiscent of the house-shaking atmosphere that was Alumni Arena last season, where the Bulls (5-11, 0-2 MAC) dominated conference opponents on their home floor.
But fans left the building stunned, after witnessing Buffalo's 21-point comeback in the second half against Miami (Ohio) (6-8, 1-1 MAC), only to blow its short-lived lead in the final minutes.
The Bulls continue the second part of their three-game home stand tonight as Kent State (10-6, 1-1 MAC) comes to town.
After being picked to win the conference last season, the Golden Flashes only made it as far as the semi-finals in the MAC Tournament and they enter this season with far less expectations.
Last season's meetings: 66-65 Buffalo (Jan. 7, Alumni Arena), 76-71 Kent State (Feb. 14, M.A.C. Center)
Players to Watch:
F- Chris Evans: In his second year at Kent State, the 6-foot-8 senior has evolved into one of the best big men the MAC has to offer. He leads his team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 16.6 points per game (third in the MAC) and 7.3 rebounds per game (fourth in the MAC). Evans has upped his productivity significantly from last season, after averaging only 9.5 points per game. He's a versatile big man who can step out and knock down the three ball - his 21 3-pointers made on the season is second best on the team. He has scored at least 14 points in 13 of the teams' 16 games this season.
G- Randal Holt: The senior is a scoring guard, putting up 13.4 points per game (second on the team) and averaging only 2.06 assists per game. He has led the Flashes in 3-pointers made in each of the past two seasons and is on pace to do it again this year with 36 three's made through 16 games. Holt is a high-volume shooter, leading the team in field-goal attempts but shooting a desperate .337 percent from the field, and .343 from 3-point land.
The Bulls will win if... Their supporting cast can outplay Kent's supporting cast. The Flashes don't have many consistent options outside of Evans and Holt, and you can assume Javon McCrea should the match the production of Evans, which sets the stage for the role players. The Bulls will need to start making some outside shots to keep up with Kent's scoring. In two MAC games, they are a combined 7-for-35 from deep, which won't be enough to keep up with the MAC's third-leading scoring offense.
The Golden Flashes will win if... Chris Evans can win the "star player" battle with Javon McCrea. Evans has been playing out on the perimeter lately, which may cause some matchup problems for the Bulls. The big men are the only two players in the MAC in the top five of scoring and rebounding, and both teams lean on their big men heavily on the offensive end. If Evans can out match the Bulls' star player, Kent State should like its chances.
What the coach says... "Our biggest opponent right now is us and our inexperience, so we'll have to be at the top of our game to have a chance." - Head coach Reggie Witherspoon.
Prediction: The Flashes offense will be too much for the Bulls, who are struggling to hit any outside shots. Javon McCrea will have a mismatch against most opponents he will face in the MAC this year, but not tonight.
Golden Flashes 74, Bulls 66
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