Men's Basketball Preview: Kent State vs. Buffalo

Published:

Quarterfinals

Kent State

vs. Buffalo

THE DETAILS

What: MAC Tournament Third Round

Who: No. 4 seed Kent State (19-12) vs. No. 8 seed Buffalo (14-19)

When/Where: Tonight, 6:30 p.m./Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland

Radio/TV: WHLO 640 AM/STO

Head Coaches: Rob Senderoff, Kent State (40-24, 2nd season); Reggie Witherspoon, Buffalo.

Previous Matchups: Kent State won 80-68 in Buffalo, then defeated the Bulls 83-81 in overtime at home.

Series: Kent State leads 28-8.

Kent State Leaders

Senior forward Chris Evans ranks fourth in the MAC in scoring (16.6 ppg) and rebounding (7.7 rpg), and third in steals (2.0 spg). Senior guard Randal Holt is second on the team in scoring (14.4 ppg). He leads the MAC in 3-pointers made (80), while shooting 38.6 percent from long range, and also leads the conference in free-throw shooting percentage (.856). Sophomore guard Kris Brewer is third on the team in scoring (9.5 ppg) and leads the MAC in 3-point field-goal percentage (45.3 percent).

Scouting Buffalo

The Bulls trailed fifth-seed Ball State by six at halftime, but outscored the Cardinals 46-25 in the second half to earn a surprisingly lopsided 76-61 victory in Wednesday's second-round matchup. Will Regan, a 6-foot-8 sophomore forward, entered the contest averaging 10.2 points per game, but poured in a career-high 35 against Ball State. ... The Bulls are led by First Team All-MAC junior forward Javon McCrea, who averages nearly 18 points, eight rebounds and three blocks per game. Senior guard Tony Watson averages 11 points and 3.4 assists, and shoots over 42 percent from 3-point range. ... Buffalo is one of the best rebounding teams in the MAC (plus-4.4 rebounding margin) thanks to a huge front line that includes the 6-7, 250-pound McCrea, Regan and 6-9, 260-pound junior Cameron Downing. ... The Bulls lost four of their final five games during the regular season, but the lone win was over Akron (81-67 at UB) and the losses included narrow defeats at Kent State (83-81 in OT) and Ohio (72-69). They opened tournament action with a first-round 74-72 home win in overtime over Central Michigan on Monday.

Flash Facts

Kent State has won five straight games and eight of its last 10 since starting the MAC season 2-5. ... The Flashes can reach 20 wins for the 14th time in the past 15 seasons with a victory tonight. ... Kent State ranks first in the MAC in 3-point field-goal percentage (.371). ... The Flashes are in search of their first MAC Tournament championship since 2008 and their sixth crown overall. ... If the Flashes don't win the MAC Tournament, they will still play in the postseason. Kent State has already received invitations to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament and the College Basketball Invitational Tournament.

Senderoff on the Buffalo Matchup

"It's gonna take a great effort from us. That's the bottom line. We're gonna have to play well, we're gonna have to play hard. We're gonna have to rebound, make some shots and create some turnovers, and utilize our depth. Play our 'A' game."

Next: The winner of tonight's game will meet No. 1 seed Akron (24-6) in the MAC Tournament Semifinals on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

-- Allen Moff

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