Men's Basketball Preview
Kent State (9-6, 0-1 MAC) at Ball State (7-6, 1-0 MAC)
When/Where: Today, 2 p.m./Worthen Arena in Muncie, Ind.
Radio: WHLO 640 AM.
Head Coaches: Rob Senderoff, Kent State (30-18, 2nd season); Billy Taylor, Ball State (76-90, 6th season at BSU).
Last Meeting: Kent State defeated Ball State 76-55 last year in Kent.
Kent State Leaders: Senior forward Chris Evans ranks among the top five in the MAC in scoring (2nd, 16.7 ppg), rebounding (4th, 7.5) and steals (5th, 1.9 spg). He's also shooting 38.5 percent from 3-point range. Senior guard Randal Holt is second on the team in scoring (13.2 ppg) and second in the MAC in 3-pointers made (34), sophomore guard Kris Brewer is third in scoring (8.5 ppg) and leads the team in assists (2.2 apg), while junior forward Mark Henniger is second on the team in rebounding (4.2 rpg).
Scouting Ball State: The Cardinals have won the last two games at the buzzer. They defeated Norfolk State 62-61 on Majok Majok's buzzer-beating dunk, then won their MAC opener at Eastern Michigan 60-58 on a pair of Chris Bond free throws with less than a second left. ... Majok, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound junior forward from Australia, leads the MAC in rebounding at 10.2 per game. He also averages 10.8 points. Preseason All-MAC pick Jesse Berry, a 6-2 junior guard, leads Ball State in scoring at 13.8 ppg, followed by 6-2 senior guard Jauwan Scaife (11.7 ppg).
Flash Facts: Kent State is coming off a 70-58 home loss to Toledo in its MAC season-opener, which snapped a 31-game winning streak against MAC West Division opponents. ... Consistency has been an issue for the Flashes almost to a man on both ends of the floor, which shouldn't be a surprise considering the fact that they return only two of their top eight scorers from last year. The one player that has been a model of consistency is Evans, who has raised his scoring average from 9.5 to 16.7 and his rebounding output from 4.1 to 7.5 this year. Evans was KSU's sixth man last year and made just 17-of-62 3-pointers, but he's hit 20-of-52 3s this season (38.5 percent). ... The player struggling the most is Kent State's lone returning starter, Holt, who is shooting 32.6 percent overall from the field and 24.5 percent in his last eight games. ... Freshman forward Chris Ortiz, who has missed the past eight games after fracturing a bone in his foot in late Nov., is expected to play today.
Senderoff On Losing the MAC Opener: "It's a disappointing start to the conference season, but it's a long season and our kids have to have a really short memory. We have to go to Ball State with a little bit better purpose, a little bit more togetherness. We have to compete a little bit more on the road, where for some reason it seems like we've played a little bit better on the road of late."
Senderoff on Ball State: "They have a really physical inside presence in Majok Majok, a new player (junior college transfer). And they have a couple guards who are upperclassmen that have the green light in Berry and Scaife. They're playing with a lot of confidence offensively, those two kids in particular. We're gonna have to do a really good job defending on the perimeter, rebounding and making it tough for Majok to catch the ball deep."
Next: The Golden Flashes will visit Buffalo on Wednesday.
Countdown to Akron: 7 days.
-- Allen Moff