Though the Kent State Golden Flashes have not put themselves through the gauntlet in their non-conference schedule, a strong performance at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas could have KSU riding high into conference play in the new year.
At 9-2 are the Jayhawks, who under the direction of Coach Bill Self, are once again a team to be reckoned with and just outside the top 10 at No. 13 in the nation. Kansas' two losses were shellackings: a 32-point loss to the top team in the country in Kentucky, and a head-scratching 25-point blow that was dealt by the Temple Owls in Philly. This will mark the team's first contest since that day, and expect Coach Self to have his fellas rearing to go after their break.
Coach Self noted in his weekly press conference.
(Kent State is) Another tough opponent. We watched tape, you know, and they are good. They are 8-3. They almost won at UTEP (12/22, 75-78 loss). That was a one-possession game. UTEP, obviously, could have easily had Arizona the other night (12/19, 55-60 loss).
So they have a good team. They are very, very, very quick on the perimeter, very athletic, and they play around a big guy that can score facing with his back to the basket. Rob (Senderoff, Kent State head coach) has a really nice team.
Sitting at 8-3 are the Golden Flashes who have sustained tough, hard-fought losses to Yale, Loyala-Chicago, and UTEP. Kent boasts four scorers who are putting up at least 10 a game in Jimmy Hall, Devareaux Manley, Kris Brewer, and Derek Jackson, and are shooting an excellent (team average wise) 39 percent from beyond the arc. If KSU is to win, it'll have to pick up some from long from three guys in Manley, Jackson and Brewer who have combined to put up 71 3-pointers in in 11 games thus far. The Jayhawks, who shoot an identical 39 percent, will have to be limited from long distance (the Flashes are allowing 31 percent 3-point shooting on the year) as it is up to chance whether the KSU can stop the KU bigs.
Luckily for Kent, (or maybe unluckily) are the variety of sources that KU gets its baskets from, as no one on the team averages more than 12.5 points a game (forward Perry Ellis). The Jayhawks are in fact outrebounding their opponents by a margin of over +6, so it'll likely be up to Kent's athletic guards to control the tempo of the game and lead the way in scoring. Jimmy Hall, the surprisingly-effective-already Hofstra transfer will have his hands full near the bucket.
The Golden Flashes will have to find a way to perform better than the guard duo of the big Wayne Selden Jr. and Frank Mason III, who is coming off a career-high 20-point game.
To its credit, Kent is 4-4 all-time against schools from the Big 12 (stat via Kent athletics), so make sure to check in on this exciting matchup that pits another strong-performing MAC school against an Elite Power 5 squad.