Fresh off of an 81-77 upset at Temple last night, Kent State travels up the Turnpike to take on Seton Hall Wednesday night.
2012-13 Kent State (21-14, 9-7; KenPom: 127; RPI: 132)
Unlike Niagara, Kent State didn't lose any significant contributors to transfer, but they have lost three key pieces to graduation. The Golden Flashes' top two scorers, Chris Evans (16.2 ppg) and Randal Holt (14.7 ppg), along with Bryson Pope (18.7 mpg, 4.8 ppg), have all graduated. Wing Earvin Morris Jr., who saw little time last year, is now at Tallahassee CC.
Kent State does add two notable players through transfer. Central Michigan's combo guard Derek Jackson, who was dismissed for academic reasons after two seasons, brings 11.5 ppg to the table and is Kent's main scorer. He joins guard K.K. Simmons (7 ppg), who left UNC-Wilmington after his freshman season.
In their 81-77 upset over Temple last night, Kent State started the game with just one forward, senior Mark Henniger, and ran a 4-out, 1-in offense until he picked up two early fouls. Melvin Tabb is Kent's first forward off the bench while sophomore Khaliq Spicer is their second big man the bench. Like Niagara: not a lot of front court depth. However, Kent State didn't need it on Monday night.
The Golden Flashes took a lot of quick, selfish shots against Temple early in the contest, most of them from their guards. This fluid approach to the game started to snowball as time went on and the Kent State guards truly swarmed all over the court. As expected, Derek Jackson led the way with 17 points. He was helped by Devareaux Manley (15 pts), Darren Goodson (12 pts, 6 reb, 4 ast), and Kellon Thomas(11 pts). A true team effort.
Seton Hall will need to vastly improve its defensive effort from Saturday evening to shut down Kent State's guards. Tom Maayan, Fuquan Edwin, and the rest of the Pirate guards will have to be very active on defense, especially on help-D and beyond the paint. Kent State seemed to struggle shooting from within the paint: Temple tallied 7 blocks on Monday.
Before upsetting Temple, I expected Kent State to have a dip in performance this season. However, they looked more than capable last night in Philadelphia, so Seton Hall may have a real threat on their hands tomorrow night.
Kent State Projected Starters:
F - Mark Henniger
G/F - Darren Goodson
G - Derek Jackson
G - Kris Brewer
G - Devareaux Manley