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Kent State shocks Texas on the road 63-58

The Golden Flashes thrive off of strong second half.

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

Kent State’s Jaylin Walker elevated on the fast-break and finished at the rim with 0.1 seconds remaining. The dunk was the icing on the cake for the Golden Flashes, who stormed into the Frank Erwin Center and stunned Shaka Smart’s Texas Longhorns, 63-58.

Kent State utilized a 15-2 run to push ahead of the Longhorns in the second half, after trailing by four at the game’s midway point. During the run, the Golden Flashes played stellar shooting defense and out-hustled the Longhorns for loose balls and rebounds. Kent State decisively won the battle on the boards 55-35, including scooping up 22 offensive rebounds in the contest.

Deon Edwin contributed to the effort on the glass, recording a career-high 12 rebounds, complemented with 15 points. He notched his first career double-double and played big in Kent State’s small-ball lineups all game.

Walker led the team with 24 points and seven rebounds, making several crucial plays to preserve the lead down the stretch. He scored eight of the final 10 points for the Golden Flashes, stepping up as the clock ticked down and the opposing crowd intensified.

Texas resorted to a full-court press late, but Kent State consistently made smart passes to weave through the Longhorn defense, finishing with high-percentage shots and open layups. Walker additionally had a crucial fast-break dunk with 32 seconds remaining to pad the Golden Flashes’ lead to five.

But Texas responded with a close layup by Jarrett Allen a mere 12 seconds later to close the gap to a one-possession game. Kent State struggled limiting Allen in the post — the five-star freshman center finished with a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double — but Kent State effectively limited Texas’ backcourt players.

Kent State received multiple opportunities to extend its three-point lead, but missed the first shot on two one-and-one opportunities at the free throw line. But the defense continued to stay firm on the final stand.

Texas finished shooting 36.2 percent (slightly below Kent State’s 37.7 percent) and 2-of-18 from long range. This caused the Longhorns to lose trust in the three-ball, resorting to a two-point field goal down 61-58 on the final possession, but Kent State’s Jimmy Hall blocked the final field goal attempt by Texas’ Eric Davis Jr.

After a series of outlet passes, Walker received the ball and finished with the open dunk to seal the win over Texas.

Just like the final dunks, the majority of Kent State’s converted field goals came from in the paint. The Golden Flashes struggled from beyond the arc, but pulled off the upset as a result of offensive success in the paint.

With the victory, Kent State finishes non-conference play strong with an 8-5 record and a win over a major program. Texas has consistently played in the NCAA Tournament field, earning 17 trips to the dance in 18 seasons. But the Longhorns fall to 6-6 after the loss — worst non-conference record in the Big 12.

Even with a down season for Texas, who previously lost at home to UT-Arlington, this remains a memorable win for the Kent State basketball program, one that is continuing the journey for a first tournament appearance since 2008. The Golden Flashes will carry the momentum back home on Jan. 3 to begin MAC play against the Ball State Cardinals.