I'll preface this with the irrefutable obvious: as a favorite, they can win the MAC tournament, and maybe they will. They're a deep team with some amazing veteran guards and some talented big men inside. But after watching their 63-57 win at Bowling Green, there was some deep-seated concern watching them play on SportsTime Ohio/ESPN3.
The game was won on the heels of two men: Michael Porrini and Rodriquez Sherman. Inside of 10 minutes, there was a stretch of game where only Porrini and Sherman scored any points for Kent State as a normally-sputtering BGSU offense tied the game in the final minutes. It took a 3-pointer from Sherman with about a minute-and-a-half left in the game to daggerize the Anderson Arena crowd, putting the road warriors up five points.
Scoring the clutch points is not the problem. But those shots aren't always going to fall. And in the MAC tournament, if you're going to build an impressive lead, you best hope you keep that lead against lesser teams.
Bowling Green's shortcoming is their ability to score points in bunches. They play hard and always seem to be in it at the end, but there times where, man, they couldn't bribe the devil for a crucial 3-point shot. When they do, they get back in the game. Against Kent State, they were still just a miserable 2-for-12 from the 3-point line, and yet they did it with transition offense. They got behind The Pillars Justin, Justin Greene and Justin Manns, with keen passes and hustling forwards.
On many plays, Mike Dabney outplayed Greene. Mike Dabney, for cryin' out loud! This is not meant to slight the BGSU senior, because he doesn't play that much, but Dabney had a career-high eight points, most of which were layups that neither Justin could contest since they were behind him at the time. Greene and/or Manns ought to be able to handle a player like Dabney. If they can't, then how'll they keep up with Julian Mavunga, DeVaughn Washington, Javon McCrea, Jarrod Jones, or Flenard Whitfield?
Much of what ailed Kent State on the offensive side Wednesday night was a poor night shooting. The halftime score was 23-17, which is very un-Kent-like, mostly because when the other team has 11 first-half turnovers ... more than 23 points ought to be scored. Chalk it up to bad luck, but there were missed dunks and threes that wouldn't go down for them.
Look at the Bracketology. Most of the experts, including SB Nation's own, are putting Kent State in the slot, because they're tied for first with the best record. But that slot is starting to slip from a 14 to 15 on many of the prediction cards. Yes, the loss to OHIO played a part in that, but this win didn't impress anybody. It didn't impress me, at least.
Again, I must assert that it's not that I believe that Kent State's going to flame out in the MAC tournament because they're awful. They aren't. But those little things like transition defense and the inability to capitalize on mistakes are what could hurt them in a big game. Right now they seem like a team that could get thumped in the MAC Championship Final or even the semis.
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