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Akron Bench Presses Kent State

Decipher the headline either way and you pretty much get the gist.

Akron's 84-75 victory over rival Kent State was marked by a second-half SURRRRRRRGE in which they outscored KSU 50-33. And while I sometimes think SportsTime Ohio announcer Michael Reghi tends to over-embellish the excitement of certain games, this one lived up to it. Not only were there a ton of athletic plays and momentum shifters (just watch the highlights above), but it was the Zips bench players who made the difference.

They had 41 points from the bench players, halfvia Nick Harney, who already has a flair for drama. Last week he had a winning runner against BGSU in the final second. And Saturday night he made 10 of 12 shots for a cool 21 points. Hey, if he keeps this up that "clutch" word is going to follow him wherever he goes.

But while Harney didn't take a single three-pointer, his teammates certainly provided those. In the second half, for example, they took four straight threes, making them all and helping supplant a 15-2 run (the other three points were via an old-fashioned three-point play).

Helping bring home the win was Chauncey Gilliam who played a season-high 23 minutes and netting 11 points. And Alex Abreu — who might be the key to the Zips season — had yet another dynamite night. It wasn't in points, but rather the seven assists to one turnover. As the season goes on, if UA stays on top, I don't think Abreu is going to get the slew of praise compared to his teammates, but it'll be warranted if he's considered a team leader.

Meanwhile, Kent State did their best to stop the momentum and they got big shots in the second half ... just not enough of them. Randal Holt finished with a killer 27 points and four steals but the rest of the team shot rather poorly and didn't get many open looks.

So as we crawl into bed, we're at a point where Akron has jumped out to a nice little 4-1 record heading into cross-divisional play, while Kent State licks their wounds at 2-3. Just shows you how ruthless the MAC East can be. KSU drops games to Buffalo, OHIO and Akron — and none of them were "bad" losses. But there they languish, tied for fourth place in the division they're supposed to win.