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2016-17 MAC Men’s Basketball Recap: Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Northern Illinois Huskies

Jimmy Hall and Kent State Get Even With Northern Illinois 73-66

NCAA Basketball: Kent State at Texas Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The Northern Illinois Huskies came into Tuesday night’s play having lost to Ohio University 78-69 on Saturday at home. The loss broke a four game winning streak that included a 74-70 road victory over Kent State on January 10th. On Tuesday, Kent State traveled to the NIU Convocation Center in Dekalb, IL for the teams second meeting of the season. The Golden Flashes came into Tuesday’s road game having just knocked off Toledo 85-61 at home on Saturday. The win snapped a four game skid for the Flashes.

Tuesday night’s game was similar to the first meeting as the two clubs engaged in a close battle that saw 7 ties and 15 lead changes. A Kent State triple from Deon Edwin would cap an 11-3 run, extending the Flashes early advantage to 22-15. That would prove to be the largest lead of the half as the Huskies would quickly respond. Sophomore Austin Pauga would stroke back-to-back threes to recapture the Huskies lead at the 9:15 mark in the half. Neither team would lead by more than a single possession for the duration of the half and the Huskies would take a 37-35 lead into the locker room. The Flashes showed a 1-3-1 zone defense early in the game, using their athleticism and length to show Northern Illinois a different look. Meanwhile, the Huskies ran double teams at Kent State’s Jimmy Hall throughout the half, and found it to be effective in limiting Hall’s impact in the first half.

The Huskies would strike first in the second half with a bucket from Aaric Armstead. Kent State would use an 11-2 run and consecutive triples from Jaylen Avery and Kevin Zabo to extend their lead to 7 for the second time in the game at 52-45. With 12:41 in the game, Huskies sophomore Jaylen Key took over for several minutes, outscoring the Flashes 7-2 by himself, bringing his team back to within a basket at 58-56 with 9 minutes to play. Kent State maintained the lead but saw the Huskies pull within one point at 65-64 and only 3:42 to play in the game. A huge three from the Avery pushed the Flashes lead back to 4 points with three minutes left. The Flashes defense tightened things up in the last three minutes sealing a key road win 73-66.

Northern Illinois sophomore Levi Bradley dropped in 12 points and grabbed 7 rebounds while Key scored 11 and snatched 5 boards.

The Huskies shot it better from the field at 46.2%, while Kent State was hitting at 44.6%. The Flashes made up for it from distance, where they hit 9-of-21 for 42.9%, besting the Huskies three point effort of 5-of-15 for 33.1%. The Flashes won the crucial battle on the glass 37-32 with 11 of them offensive.

Kent State’s Jimmy Hall got his as usual with 18 points and 13 rebounds. The Flashes got excellent guard play from Avery and Zabo who scored 16 points a piece. Edwin continued to be key for the Flashes with 11 points, 3 rebounds and 3 dimes.

Northern Illinois dropped to 12-9 overall and 4-3 in the MAC with the loss. They remain on the the road Saturday, when they go to Toledo to face the Rockets at 2 PM EST.

Kent State improved to 11-9 overall and 3-4 in MAC play. The Golden Flashes get Central Michigan at home on Saturday at Noon EST, on CBS Sports Network.