Men's Basketball Preview: Kent State vs. Eastern Michigan

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MEN'S BASKETBALL PREVIEW

EASTERN MICHIGAN AT KENT STATE

n Who: Eastern Michigan (10-10, 3-3 MAC) at Kent State (11-10, 2-5 MAC)

n When/Where: Tonight, 6 p.m./M.A.C. Center

n TV/Radio: SportsTime Ohio/WHLO 640 AM.

n Head Coaches: Rob Murphy, Eastern Michigan (24-28, 2nd season); Rob Senderoff, Kent State (32-22, 2nd season).

n 2011-12 Records: Eastern Michigan 14-18, 9-7 MAC; Kent State 21-12, 10-6 MAC.

n Series: Kent State leads 38-30.

n Last Season: The Flashes defeated the Eagles 62-58 in Ypsilanti, Mich.

n Kent State Leaders: Senior forward Chris Evans ranks among the top six in the MAC in scoring (4th, 16.6 ppg), rebounding (6th, 7.0) and steals (4th, 1.8 spg). He's also shooting 37 percent from 3-point range. Senior guard Randal Holt is second on the team in scoring (13.7 ppg) and first in the MAC in 3-pointers made (48), while sophomore guard Kris Brewer is third on the team in scoring (8.6 ppg).

n Scouting Eastern Michigan: The Eagles haven't played since last Saturday's historic 42-25 home victory over Northern Illinois. They were scheduled to play at Ohio on Wednesday, but the game was cancelled because of an armed robbery that occurred near the OU campus Wednesday morning. ... The Eagles aren't exactly an offensive juggernaut, ranking 11th in the MAC in scoring (59.4 ppg) and shooting (39.8 percent from the field), but they feature a defense that leads the MAC in points allowed (59.4 ppg) anchored by three of the top nine shot-blockers in the MAC -- 7-foot junior center Da'Shonte Riley (6.1 points, 2.3 blocks per game), 6-8 junior forward Glenn Bryant (10 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.4 bpg) and 6-6 junior swingman Daylon Harrison (9.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.2 bpg), who was a former star at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. Eastern Michigan ranks 19th in the nation in blocks per game (5.4). ... EMU also ranks second in the MAC in field-goal percentage defense (38.8) and first in 3-point field-goal percentage defense (29.3). ... Derek Thompson, a 6-3 senior guard, leads the Eagles in scoring (11.2 ppg) and leads the MAC in 3-point field goals made per game (2.4). He's shooting 35.9 percent from long range. ... Eastern Michigan is 0-8 on the road this season, and lost its first two MAC road games (at Bowling Green, Western Michigan) by a combined six points. ... EMU head coach Rob Murphy was an assistant at Kent State during Jim Christian's first two seasons, working alongside fellow assistant Senderoff.

n Flash Facts: The Flashes have earned 16 straight victories over the Eagles, dating back to the 1997-98 season, but enter tonight's contest on a four-game losing streak. They have not lost five straight games since 2009. ... Kent State, which has earned 19 or more victories for 14 consecutive seasons, is off to its worst start since the 2008-09 campaign. The Flashes were 8-11 overall and 1-4 in the MAC before reeling off eight straight victories, and wound up 19-15 overall and 10-6 in the MAC in head coach Geno Ford's first season. ... Kent State is 177-33 at the M.A.C. Center over the past 15 seasons, but just 6-6 this year. ... Consistency has been an issue for every player who sees regular action for the Flashes, but for seniors Randal Holt and Chris Evans in particular. They have only won one game this year when both of those players didn't reach double-figures, and neither did in Wednesday's loss at NIU. "There's a lot of frustration right now amongst our guys and amongst our coaches, because we're not happy with how we're playing," said Senderoff. "And I don't think that's a bad thing. When you start to accept that you're not playing well there's a problem, and our guys aren't accepting that."

n Senderoff on Eastern Michigan: "They really control the tempo and the pace of the game unlike anybody else in our league. They do that both with their offense and their defense. They play all zone. They've got great length at every position. Their zone forces you into difficult shots, and they do a good job of creating steals out of their zone. They have a couple good one-on-one players offensively, and they're a good offensive rebounding team because of their size. There's a lot of challenges for us. Offensively, we have to make sure we take care of the basketball and get good shots. We're probably gonna shoot a lot of 3s because of their zone, and that's fine but we've gotta make sure those are inside-out 3s, that the shots are coming from penetration. Defensively, we're gonna have to guard for 35 seconds, and we'll have to do a great job of defending at the end of the shot clock."

n Next: The Golden Flashes will visit Western Michigan (13-7, 5-2) on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

-- ALLEN MOFF

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