Men's Basketball Preview: Kent State at Buffalo

By Allen Moff | Staff Writer Published:

Records: Kent State (11-5, 2-1 MAC), Buffalo (8-5, 2-1 MAC).

When/Where: Tonight, 6 p.m./Alumni Arena.

Radio/TV: WHLO 640 AM/Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.

Head Coaches: Rob Senderoff, Kent State (53-31, 3rd season); Bobby Hurley, Buffalo (8-5, 1st season).

2012-13 Records: Kent State 21-14, 9-7 MAC; Buffalo 14-20, 7-9 MAC.

Series: Kent State leads 29-8. The Flashes won all three meetings with the Bulls last year, but two were decided by two points -- including a 70-68 win in the MAC Tournament quarterfinals.

Scouting Buffalo

The Bulls are 7-1 at home and had won four in a row before falling 67-65 at Toledo (14-2) on Wednesday, when UT's Julius Brown hit a jumper at the buzzer. ... Buffalo features one-man wrecking crew Javon McCrea, a 6-foot-7, 250-pound mass of muscle who torched the Flashes in all three games last season. McCrea averaged 18 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game a year ago, but those numbers soared to 28.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.3 blocks against KSU. This year, McCrea is piling up 17 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per night, while shooting 56 percent from the field. ... Joshua Freelove, a 6-2 senior guard, who transferred from Alabama State, averages 12.2 points per game and hits a MAC-leading 2.2 3s per outing. ... A pair of returnees -- 6-8 junior forward Will Regan (9.5 points, 5.8 rebounds) and 6-3 senior guard Jarod Oldham (7.8 points, 5.4 assists) -- are also key contributors for Buffalo. ... The Bulls rank third in the MAC in rebounding margin (plus-4.2), second in offensive rebounding (13.5 rpg) and first in blocked shots (6.4 bpg).

Flash Facts

The Flashes overcame double-digit second-half deficits to win their last two games. First they outscored Ball State 54-35 in the second half at home to win 86-74, then they scrambled back from a 13-point deficit with just over 10 minutes left in regulation to force overtime at Northern Illinois and won 73-64. ... Junior point guard Kris Brewer has scored 43 points in the last two contests, with 35 coming after halftime. He's shot 2-of-11 from the field in the first half, and 9-of-11 after halftime. Brewer leads the Flashes in scoring at 12.8 points per game, which he's increased to 16.3 during conference play. Junior guard Derek Jackson is second in scoring (11.1 ppg), followed by senior forward Darren Goodson (10.4 ppg). Senior forward Mark Henniger is the team's leading rebounder (5.5 rpg) and averages 8.6 points. ... Kent State is 3-2 on the road, with both losses coming in close games against quality opponents (78-76 at Seton Hall, 73-68 at Princeton). ... The matchup pits Kent State's MAC-leading 3-point shooting team (35.3 percent) against a Buffalo defense that allows foes to shoot a league-low 28 percent from long range.

Senderoff on Buffalo

"Very, very good team, a veteran team, and they're playing well right now. They're big and physical. They have if not the best one of the best players in the league (McCrea), somebody who has always played well against us. They brought in a fifth-year senior who has made a huge difference for their team, Freelove. He's their second-leading scorer and leading 3-point shooter. He's an athletic guard. They have the dominant frontcourt and good guard play, and they shoot it pretty well, with pretty good balance. They're one of the best in the country at defending the 3. And they're good at home. They run more set plays and isolation stuff than they have in the past (under Hurley). He inherited a good team and he's done a good job with them. It's gonna be a big challenge."

Countdown to Akron: 13 days.

-- Allen Moff

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