NOT ONCE IN MY LIFE HAD I EVER DREAMED THAT I'D BE ATTENDING A COLLEGE BASKETBALL GAME AT 11 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING. I HAD NEVER REALLY EVEN HEARD OF SUCH A THING UNTIL THIS YEAR, WHEN A COUPLE GAMES STARTED COMING ON TELEVISION BEFORE NOON. AS A TYPICAL COLLEGE STUDENT, WAKING UP BEFORE NOON ON A SATURDAY IS A CHORE, MUCH LESS PLAYING AN IMPORTANT BASKETBALL GAME. BUT, ON #ALLCAPSDAY SATURDAY, I GOT A CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE SOMETHING NEW: BREAKFAST AND BASKETBALL.
I awoke at 9:30 Saturday morning, which doesn't happen too often. I made sure to have a hearty breakfast, which included a bowl of Frosted Flakes and a 100% whole grain wheat bagel. I was pumped and ready to get on the road, until I looked outside and saw about 18 inches of snow on the ground that fell overnight. Undeterred, I revved up my 2004 Chevrolet Malibu and headed east on Interstate 76 towards Kent. Now, going 35 miles an hour on an interstate is not fun, but on a day when there were two separate 10+ car pileups on the exact stretch of road I was driving, I wasn't angry.
The Ball State Cardinals and Kent State Golden Flashes faced off in the last game of the Mid-American Conference crossover part of the schedule. The Cardinals were reeling, losers of their past five games which were all against MAC East division teams. Although they were not totally out of it in the MAC race, another loss would act as one more nail in the coffin. Kent State, on the other hand, was riding high. Five straight wins propelled them to a 7-3 conference record, and they also had a streak of 29 straight wins against Western division opponents.
This game was televised on ESPNU, and hyped as a "Gold Out." However, when I arrived about 15 minutes before tip, I was startled. There was hardly anyone in the M.A.C. Center. The first 2,000 fans were given Kent State Crazy Hair, and there were still a lot left when I received mine. For some reason, be it the game's starting time or the quality of the opponent, not a lot showed up. And not everyone wore gold. You would think that a national televised game would be a big draw, but I guess not.
My main interest in the game was to see how both teams' best players went at each other. Ball State's Jarrod Jones and Kent State's Justin Greene are arguably the two best power forwards in the MAC, and who outplayed the other would go a long way in determining the winner. Apparently there were a few NBA scouts on hand (they were not wearing gold either), which tells you the quality of Jones's and Greene's ability. It took a little while for both teams to warm up (and possibly wake up), but midway through the first half Kent State started to make their run. Ball State's Randy Davis (who looks like he came straight out of Hoosiers) hit a three to pull the Cardinals within one at 15-14. Then the Golden Flashes went on a quick 12-2 run that essentially put the game out of reach. Kent State lead at the half 38-24 after another 9-0 run to end the half.
Ball State never got closer than nine, as Kent State kept their foot on the gas pedal and zoomed out to a 21-point victory. Greene got the best of Jones, outscoring him 18-7 and out-rebounding him 9-5. Jones shot just 2-12 while Greene was 8-16. This loss marked the first time that Ball State had ever gone winless against the MAC East division, since the division format was implemented in 1997-98.
There was no relaxing though, because later on I would be attending the Northern Illinois Huskies-Akron Zips game, which made #ALLCAPSDAY even sweeter.
at KENT STATE 76, BALL STATE 55 02/11/2012
BALL STATE 12-11 (4-7) -- J. Jones 2-12 2-2 7; T. Robinson 3-9 5-7 11; C. Bond 5-9 1-4 11; R. Davis 2-6 0-0 6; A. Adeoya 5-8 4-5 14; Z. Chapman 2-5 0-0 6; J. Berry 0-1 0-0 0; Z. Fields 0-0 0-0 0; P. Sneed 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-50 12-18 55. KENT STATE 18-6 (8-3) -- J. Greene 8-16 2-2 18; R. Holt 4-7 2-2 13; M. Porrini 0-3 0-0 0; C. Guyton 6-11 0-1 14; C. Evans 4-6 2-3 11; P. Jackson 2-3 0-0 4; J. Manns 3-5 0-0 6; E. Gaines 3-4 0-0 7; M. Henniger 0-3 0-0 0; D. Manley 1-1 0-0 3; S. Dunning 0-0 0-0 0; B. Frank 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 31-60 6-8 76.
Three-point goals: BSU 5-14 (R. Davis 2-6; J. Jones 1-2; T. Robinson 0-1; Z. Chapman 2-5), KENT 8-16 (M. Porrini 0-1; C. Evans 1-2; R. Holt 3-4; B. Frank 0-1; E. Gaines 1-2; C. Guyton 2-5; D. Manley 1-1); Rebounds: BSU 25 (A. Adeoya 7), KENT 34 (J. Greene 9); Assists: BSU 12 (T. Robinson 5), KENT 21 (C. Guyton 8); Total Fouls -- BSU 12, KENT 17; Fouled Out: BSU-None; KENT-None.