The Kent State Golden Flashes limp into Princeton, New Jersey on Tuesday to take on the Princeton Tigers. Kent State comes in at 9-3 while Princeton sits at 9-2. Even though their records seem similar, Princeton has faced, and beaten more difficult competition, thus the Flashes are 8.5 point underdogs.
Kent State has struggled as of late losing two out of three, both on their home floor. Eight of their 12 games this year have had a point differential of less than ten. If the Flashes want to beat a very good Princeton basketball team, they will need to shoot the ball exceptionally well. Kris Brewer and Derek Jackson should lead the charge shooting the ball. Darren Goodson and Mark Henniger have taken care of business, for the most part, in the forward slots and should continue to do that. After that, it is a crapshoot.
Devareaux Manley, K.K Simmons, and Kellon Thomas have all shown flashes of brilliance this year (no pun intended). At least one of those guys will have to step up big. The Flashes have excellent depth at both forward and guard, but when guys don't step up off the bench (Cleveland State for example), there depth won't mean much. Of the three, Manley has probably played better than the others averaging 8.8 points per game, however Simmons has been the best three point shooter on the team shooting 48%. Lets just hope Simmons can use his three point abilities to pull away from the Tigers, and not to close the deficit.
At forward, Khaliq Spicer, Melvin Tabb, and Chris Ortiz will spell Goodson and Henniger. Princeton is a gigantic basketball team with seven guys that are 6'8 or bigger. If Khaliq Spicer isn't the most heavily utilized player off the bench for the Flashes, than you can forget about an upset. In the Cleveland State game, Spicer barely played at all. Darren Goodson is a great matchup underneath if you are a Tigers fan. Senderoff probably overuses Goodson, who is undersized to begin with, which is why there is reason to be seriously concerned about who will play the most at forward. If Goodson shoots the ball well like he has at times, you will hear no complaints out of me. However, if he plays as poorly as he did against Cleveland State while Spicer provides motivational support once again, Flashes fans will be irate.
Princeton is ranked eighth in the www.collegeinsider.com top 25 while Kent State is ranked 15th. The Tigers are very streaky. While they do have wins against number ten Pacific and power conference teams Penn State and Rutgers, they barely escaped a bad Lafayette team in overtime and got beat by a very average Portland squad. Princeton's other loss is to Butler by three. The only mutual opponents these teams have played thus far is Bucknell. Princeton was able to notch a 66-53 win while the Flashes fell to the Bison 66-59.
The Tigers are led by T.J Bray, who is by far their best scorer. Bray averages 17 points per game and seven assists per game. Princeton also shoots the three ball exceptionally well with six guys shooting over 40% from behind the arc. The problem for the Flashes should come with the Tigers three big forwards, Hans Brase, Will Barrett, and Denton Koon. All three men are over 6'8 and shoot the ball remarkably well. If Spicer and Melvin Tabb don't see significant playing time, they shouldn't be able to compete with these big men.
My biggest concern is that I don't see Senderoff giving the big men off the bench enough of a chance to win this game. He hasn't shown any faith in Khaliq underneath in the last two years and I don't have a reason to believe that that will change in New Jersey on Saturday. I can really see Goodson getting shut down underneath and trying to force too many bad shots from outside. Without exceptional guard play from the Flashes, they wont be able to steal one from the physical Tigers.
Princeton 78 - Flashes 62
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