KSU men bulldoze Buffalo

By Allen Moff Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Trevor Huffman readily admitted that he and this Kent State teammates didn't set out to merely beat the Buffalo Bulls. They wanted to lambaste 'em. Memories of a shocking last-second loss at Buffalo earlier this month lit a raging fire under Huffman and his fellow Golden Flashes, who avenged their only Mid-American Conference defeat of the season by scorching the Bulls 91-53 Wednesday at the M.A.C. Center. East Division leader Kent State (13-5, 6-1 MAC) buried a school-record 13 3-pointers in 17 attempts while building its lead to as many as 44 points over shell-shocked Buffalo (9-9, 4-4 MAC), which shot a dismal 27 percent from the field. "I wouldn't say we were out for blood, but this is the closest thing to revenge we could get," said Huffman, whose squad was nipped by the Bulls 66-65 on Jan. 9. "We felt they stole one from us up there, so we had something to prove. All we talked about was cleaning house." Huffman immediately turned that talk into action. After struggling immensely in his past four games (26 percent field goals, 16 percent 3-pointers, 9 points per game), Kent State's prized senior point guard quickly regained his old form against Buffalo. Huffman had a hand in every basket while the Flashes built a 13-2 lead out of the gate, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and a free throw and feeding teammates twice for easy hoops after beating defenders with his patented crossover dribble. The early success gave Huffman's sometimes shaky confidence a much-needed boost. "The last two weeks have been a real struggle for me," said Huffman. "I've been taking a lot of heat. But I'm not the type of player who will give up on himself, and my teammates never gave up on me. That's really important. They put the ball in my hands, and I just tried to go back to what's made me successful and play free. When I do that, it's like a whole different game for me." While Huffman was beginning to blaze, the ice-cold Bulls were stoning 15 of their first 16 field goals. Seven-foot sophomore John Edwards swatted two shots inside, while Huffman and senior backcourt mate Andrew Mitchell gave Buffalo few open looks on the perimeter. "We came out shooting extremely well, but I thought our defense ignited some of our offense," said Kent State coach Stan Heath. "Everybody was helping everybody. We rotated well and forced them to make the extra pass." A 3-pointer and two free throws by Mitchell following a technical foul called on the Bulls' bench pushed the lead to 20-5, and a 17-0 run shortly thereafter helped Kent State build a mind-boggling 49-16 advantage by halftime. Huffman and Mitchell each shot 4-of-4 from 3-point range in the first half, while sophomore forward Brian Bedford drained both bombs he attempted as the Flashes shot 10-of-11 overall from behind the arc. Huffman actually outscored Buffalo himself 18-16, while Mitchell matched his foe's total. Meanwhile, the Bulls shot 19 percent from the field (7-of-36) and connected on just 1-of-14 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes of action _ or lack thereof in their case. "The difference in this game was that they played harder," said Buffalo coach Reggie Witherspoon. "We don't win a lot of games, so our guys are just starting to learn that when you beat someone, they come out harder the next time." Little changed during the second half foul-fest, which featured breakaway dunks by both Huffman and Mitchell. Huffman wound up scoring a game-high 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting (4-of-4 3-pointers) and also notched seven rebounds, while Mitchell produced 22 points (9-of-13 field goals). Bedford tied career highs with 10 points and six rebounds, and junior guard Anthony Wilkins took advantage of second-half garbage time to set new high marks with 10 points and six boards. Poor free-throw shooting (14-of-26) and a rare sub-par performance by junior forward Antonio Gates (1 point) were the only drawbacks in an otherwise near-perfect performance by the Flashes, who gained more momentum heading into Saturday's showdown at Bowling Green. "As you can see, if we play the way we're capable of the rest will take care of itself," said Heath. _ E-mail: amoff@recordpub.net Phone: (330) 678-5460

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.