Kent State wins third straight behind Brewer's hot shooting hand

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Record-Courier staff report

OXFORD -- You can call them the streaks.

Kris Brewer and the Kent State men's basketball team have struggled immensely through long stretches of the 2014 Mid-American Conference season, but have recently emerged from those slumps -- with authority.

Brewer drained 7-of-7 3-pointers en route to a game-high 28 points, while leading the Golden Flashes to their third consecutive victory -- a convincing 75-63 triumph at Miami on Wednesday.

Those are the same Flashes that were once 3-7 in the MAC -- their worst conference start since 1994-95 -- after suffering six losses during an ugly seven-game stretch. And that's the same Brewer that shot 1-of-19 from 3-point range over a dismal five-game skid that led to his removal from the starting lineup.

The junior point guard has now bounced back to drain 11-of-12 bombs over the past two games.

"I've been getting in the gym, and that's the reason for the turnaround," said Brewer, who was 9-for-11 from the field overall. "One night I was in the gym until 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. (Assistant coach DeAndre) Haynes has been getting me in the gym for extra shots every day and he is always talking to me, keeping my head right."

Brewer has four games of 20 points or more this season, and they've all come on the road. On Wednesday, he tied his career high of 28 points, which Brewer first established in a two-point loss at Seton Hall last November.

"We all played together," said Brewer, who added five rebounds, three assists and two steals. "We were all looking for each other and we all played pretty well."

Kent State (15-11, 6-7 MAC) shot 15-of-26 overall from 3-point range (58 percent). Junior guard Devareaux Manley was 5-of-8 from beyond the arc on his way to 15 points, while junior guard Derek Jackson scored all 10 of his points in the first half to help the Flashes grab a 28-22 halftime lead.

"Our guys all played with a ton of energy," said KSU head coach Rob Senderoff. "Just the entire team's energy level and commitment to winning tonight was really high, and it put us in a position to win."

Sophomore forward Khaliq Spicer led Kent State with nine rebounds and also blocked three shots. The Flashes won the rebounding battle 28-25 and outscored the RedHawks (9-15, 5-8) 50-14 in bench points.

That bench features former starters Brewer, Manley and senior forward Mark Henniger (7 points), who combined for all 50 points.

"Their production is really important to our team's success," said Senderoff. "Tonight all three of them were phenomenal. (Brewer) couldn't have played much better."

Back-to-back 3s by Manley and Brewer pushed Kent State's lead to 43-27 early in the second half, and the issue was never in doubt from that point on.

Kent State didn't shoot its first free throw until Henniger hit one to complete a three-point play with just under seven minutes remaining, putting his team up 65-46. The Flashes wound up 4-of-7 from the line while the RedHawks were 20-of-28, but it mattered little as KSU won the 3-point shooting battle 15-3.

"With the way they play - they scramble and press and trap - if you're able to move the basketball, you're going to get some good looks," said Senderoff. "But sometimes you have those same looks and don't make them. Once you make a couple your confidence gets a little higher, and all of a sudden you're able to make some contested shots."

Will Felder led Miami with 23 points, doing much of his damage from the foul line (11-for-13). The RedHawks suffered their fifth straight defeat.

The streaking Flashes will be put to the test at noon on Saturday, when they host Buffalo (15-8, 9-4).

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