Let's get this out of the way first: I loathe all things Kent State. I am an Akron fan (and current student) first and foremost, and making that fifteen minute drive east on Interstate 76 is something I only want to do during basketball season. When I finally get into the Memorial Athletic Convocation Center (MACC) get my ticket and find my seat, I realize what I am here to do: to cover this game for the 800 Games Project, and not root against my arch nemesis. I arrived around 40 minutes until tip-off, and was greeted in my section by a nice gentleman (trying to stay impartial here) handing out Kent rally towels. I gladly take one and plan on using it as a rug or to clean up any spilled oil from my car.
As a quick aside, if you ever make your way to Kent, Ohio, you need to eat at the restaurant Mike's Place. Not only can you get your inner Red Squadron fever going by getting a picture with the X-Wing near the entrance, you can also eat in a boat or a train car. Plus, the food is very good and reasonable. It is truly the only thing that I like about the city.
The game started off with Alcorn State getting two administrative free throws, to which I am still trying to figure out why. Maybe it was because the Flashes wore grey jerseys at home instead of the traditional white, but in the end it didn't even matter. I wish I would have gotten a picture of the scoreboard reading: Alcorn State 1, Kent State 0 with 20:00 left to play; I don't know if I'll ever see that again.
The first half was rather odd, as a majority of Alcorn State's shots were threes. Marquiz Teague had 19 of the Braves' 30 at half, and 12 were from beyond the arc. Kent State kept leaving him open, and he continued to make them. Shouts of "not him again" and "somebody cover him" resounded throughout my section. Without Teague, this game would not have been as close as it was at halftime (a 32-30 Kent advantage). This wasn't the Kent State team everyone was used to seeing (especially after just RLU-ing West Virginia), and it seemed that frustration was setting into the Flashes' collective head. Not to mention that their best post player, Justin Greene, picked up two quick fouls and sat much of the half. This lead to the Braves outrebounding the Flashes 21-14 at half, with 11 of them being on the offensive glass.
Kent State really turned up the pressure in the second half, as their full-court press provided them with a 20-5 run for which they would never look back. The constant pressure forced 21 total Brave turnovers and ultimately led to their downfall. They just could not handle the pressure and lacked a true ball-handler to lead the offense. Teague finished with a game-high 29, but it just wasn't enough.
There was a post-game autograph session that I was tempted to stay for and "talk" a little to the players, but I figured I could wait until January 21st when I will be able to welcome them to James A. Rhodes Arena with open arms. I eagerly awaited the return to my car to see if anyone had slashed my tires or knocked out my windows, but gladly all of my Akron window stickers did not give anyone motivation to damage my beautiful 2004 Chevy Malibu. I walked out of Kent alive, and was happy to return to my comfortable Akron home.
at KENT STATE 77, ALCORN STATE 58 11/19/2011
ALCORN STATE 1-2 (0-0) -- M. Baker 8-21 8-10 29; X. Rimmer 1-4 2-2 5; I. Francis 2-4 1-2 5; T. Oakley 4-12 2-2 13; M. Starks 1-2 0-0 2; K. McDonald 1-3 2-2 4; K. Sullivan 0-2 0-0 0; C. Brand 0-1 0-0 0; J. Hawkins 0-3 0-0 0; J. Moore 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-53 15-18 58. KENT STATE 2-0 (0-0) -- C. Guyton 2-5 2-2 7; R. Holt 3-11 0-0 8; M. Porrini 4-6 3-4 12; J. Greene 6-10 0-0 12; E. Gaines 4-7 2-2 11; C. Evans 5-6 4-5 15; J. Manns 0-2 0-0 0; P. Jackson 1-4 0-0 2; K. Brewer 1-2 2-2 4; M. Henniger 1-2 1-1 3; S. Johnson 0-0 0-2 0; D. Manley 1-2 0-0 3; B. Frank 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-57 14-18 77.
Three-point goals: ALC 9-28 (M. Baker 5-13; J. Hawkins 0-3; T. Oakley 3-10; X. Rimmer 1-2), KENT 7-16 (M. Porrini 1-2; C. Evans 1-1; R. Holt 2-7; E. Gaines 1-2; C. Guyton 1-3; D. Manley 1-1); Rebounds: ALC 27 (I. Francis 8), KENT 30 (J. Greene 7); Assists: ALC 9 (M. Baker 4), KENT 19 (M. Porrini 6); Total Fouls -- ALC 20, KENT 18; Fouled Out: ALC-M. Starks; KENT-None.