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Kent State vs. Ohio: Bobcats Flail and Flashes Sail

It was a sight for sore eyes in Athens on Saturday afternoon, as Ohio played one of its worst games of the year on Senior Day. Kent State earned a solid victory on the road.

Kent State is able to head into Athens and pull out a victory.
Kent State is able to head into Athens and pull out a victory.
Eric Francis

Falling behind in the first half is nothing new for the Ohio Bobcats. Before Wednesday's loss to Buffalo, not coming back from a double-digit deficit was. With Ohio's 75-61 loss to Kent State on Saturday, the Bobcats seem to have lost that special something that was helping them pull out come-from-behind victories.

The game marked the last regular season home game for seniors Travis Wilkins, Ricardo Johnson, T.J. Hall, Nick Kellogg and Jon Smith. Ricardo Johnson, who has been out with a fractured leg since Jan. 4th, was honored by being started by coach Jim Christian and then immediately pulled off the court to a standing ovation.

It only took 10 minutes and 51 seconds for Ohio to fall behind 10 points, a margin that it has been all too familiar with in MAC play. But like the 'Cats did against Buffalo, they fell behind early, fought to the end, but just could not pull out a victory.

Ohio grabbed an early 8-3 lead, but the Golden Flashes immediately grabbed control. That Ohio lead quickly evaporated and Kent State went on a 17-0 run over the course of eight minutes of basketball.

It was an all around abysmal first half of basketball for Ohio. They allowed KSU to hit on 12 of 25 shots (48%) as Derek Jackson specifically put up 14 points in the first 20 minutes of play. The Golden Flashes put on a display from behind the arc, hitting on 6 of 8 treys in the half and headed into the locker room up 36-24. Maurice Ndour led the 'Cats with 5 points at the half, as Ohio shot 6 of 29.

Things never got any better for Ohio in the second half. Even as the Bobcats matched shot after shot for the first dozen minutes of the second half, they could not pull any closer than eight. Travis Wilkins did his best to try and keep Ohio in it, scoring a team-high 14 points, but he received very little help from his teammates. Nick Kellogg scored a measly 2 points, and Ndour added 8 with six rebounds.

Devareaux Manley had a response to several Ohio runs in the second half, hitting 3-pointers to sit Ohio fans back in their seats. Manley led all scorers with 17. He was aided mainly by the play of Kris Brewer who put together a stat line of 12 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Ohio forward Treg Setty played yet another high-energy game, earning him the favor the crowd as he put up 7 points.

Remarkably enough for the Bobcats, they turned Kent State over 19 times in the loss. The loss dropped the Bobcats to 19-10 and 9-7 in the MAC. Kent State is now 16-13 and 9-7 in the MAC. The loss was the sixth for Ohio at home this year and the fifth in conference play (4-5). Ohio will finish with a losing conference record at home for the first time in 16 years.