Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE
The Zips edge rival Kent State in a thrilling 62-59 victory. They didn't have Alex Abreu but Zeke Marshall continues to exist in exciting facets.
Well, that settles it. You're gonna have to ban them from the postseason if you want to keep Akron out of the MAC title game. There's just no other way out of it. The Zips and Golden Flashes played a marvelous game in terms of competitiveness, even though the execution leaved something to be desired.
We knew Akron wasn't a great free-throw team. But they shot 13-for-29 (44.8 percent) from the line, and that's no way to close a game. That has nothing to do with Abreu — on the contrary, even if he was in the game and tried to miss, he wouldn't. But Kent State was never able to answer on the other side, and some of that had to do with shots being redirected.
Zeke Marshall needed his A-game, and it was present: 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks (although one was an obvious goaltend) helped prevent Kent State from ever pulling away. Demetrius Treadwell had closing power thanks to his 14 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. And Nick Harney showed the most versatility by playing a bit of point guard. He finished with 11 points and four assists. He's not your prototypical point guard, but it works, and that ought to be their answer moving forward.
Carmelo Betancourt played a MUCH more manageable 20 minutes, and that's about all the time you want him out there. He wasn't entirely effective (one point, two assists, four turnovers) but you need someone to bring the ball down the court, get it inside quickly, and let your experienced players try to make a play or find the open man.
Kent State should (SHOULD) make SportsCenter tonight thanks to Chris Evans' intense dunk over Marshall, but for the rest of the game he never materialized into the closer we know him to be. Other than the dunk he was 1-for-10 from the floor. He finished with six points, nine rebounds and fouled out when the game was still in question. That let it to Randal Holt to make the shot, and he did his best, but despite 19 points and five assists, he couldn't get a game-winner to sink in the final minute. And that was honestly their best chance at advancing to tomorrow night.
Additionally, Kent State already announced they'll play in the CIT and host a game Tuesday night, with the opponent to be determined on Sunday night. They move quickly on these things.