MEN'S BASKETBALL PREVIEW
Miami at Kent State
Who: Miami (8-14, 3-7 MAC) vs. Kent State (13-11, 4-6 MAC)
When/Where: Tonight, 7 p.m./M.A.C. Center.
Radio/TV: WHLO 640 AM/STO.
Head Coaches: John Cooper, Miami (8-14, 1st season at Miami); Rob Senderoff, Kent State (34-23, 2nd season).
2011-12 Records: Miami 9-21, 5-11 MAC; Kent State 21-12, 10-6 MAC.
Series: Miami leads 86-44
Last Season: The Flashes and the RedHawks split the season series, each team earning a narrow win at home.
Kent State Leaders: Senior forward Chris Evans ranks among the top six in the MAC in scoring (4th, 16.8 ppg), rebounding (6th, 7.0) and steals (4th, 1.9 spg), and is shooting 49.4 percent from the field. Senior guard Randal Holt is second on the team in scoring (14.0 ppg) and leads the MAC in 3-pointers made (60), shooting 37.3 percent from long range overall and 39.1 percent in the MAC, while sophomore guard Kris Brewer is third in scoring (9.2 ppg).
Scouting Miami: These are not your same old RedHawks coached by Charlie Coles, which succeeded in uglifying games for years with a deliberate, defense-first (and second and third) playing style. To prove it Miami under Cooper is ranked next-to-last in the MAC in scoring defense (69 ppg), last in field-goal percentage defense (.474) and last in 3-point field-goal percentage -- three statistics they annually dominated under Coles. They are also last in rebounding margin (-5.7). However, the team's new up-tempo philosophy has the RedHawks second in the MAC in steals (9 spg) while forcing over 16 turnovers per contest. ... Miami has lost six of its last seven, but last three setbacks -- to Western Michigan, Toledo and Akron teams that all beat Kent State -- have come by a combined nine points. ... Miami is led by 6-foot-3 junior guard Allen Roberts in scoring (12.8 ppg), while 6-7 junior forward Will Felder is second in scoring (11.5 ppg) and first in rebounds (5.5 rpg). Six-foot junior guard Quinten Rollins leads the team in assists (4.3 apg) and steals (2 spg). No Miami player has scored over 22 points in a game this season.
Flash Facts: After starting the MAC season with three straight home losses, the Flashes will seek their third straight league win at the M.A.C. Center tonight. Kent State is 8-6 at home this year, but 179-33 over the last 15 seasons. ... The Flashes have now won two of their last three games, and are averaging 80 points per contest during that stretch. They averaged just 64 points per outing and cracked 70 just once in their first seven league games, shooting 38 percent from the field and 31.5 percent from the 3-point line with 73 assists compared to 103 turnovers. However, in the last three games Kent State is shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from 3-point range, with 43 assists to 29 turnovers. ... KSU is currently third in the MAC in scoring (70.5 ppg), third in free-throw percentage (.711), and second in 3-point field-goal percentage (.356). ... Junior forward Darren Goodson has emerged as a consistent third scorer for Kent State in the past eight games, averaging 13 points during that stretch. He is averaging 10.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in MAC games, up from 7.2 points and 2.9 rebounds overall. ... Brewer, coming off a career-high seven-assist game against CMU, is averaging 13.5 points over his last four games. ... Voting is now open in the Dark Horse Dunker competition, and KSU dunking phenom Evans is one of 16 competitors with a chance to earn a trip to the State Farm Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships in Atlanta on April 4. The bracketed competition pits Evans against Stephen F. Austin's Hal Bateman in round one. Highlight videos of Evans, Bateman and all of the dunkers in the competition can be viewed at facebook.com/CollegeSlam. That's also where fans can vote for the round-one matchups through Feb. 25.
Evans Ankle Injury Update From Senderoff: Evans came down on a teammate's foot late in Saturday's victory over Central Michigan, and had to be helped off the court. X-rays were negative, but Evans did not practice on Monday. "He probably went through about a third of the drills (Tuesday). He got treatment multiple times. He'll go in (today) prior to our shootaround hopeful that he'll get to go through shootaround full-speed. I think he will. I expect him to play; what percentage he is I don't know. I think in your senior year in mid-February, whatever percentage he is he's gotta play as hard as he can for as long as he can. Hopefully he'll be able to help us."
Senderoff on Miami: "For the fans that have been coming here for the last 15 years, they're gonna see a very different team in terms of style. They press and they trap a ton, and they're one of the best teams at turning you over in the country. They try to play fast, which is very different than what most Miami teams have done. They pressure the basketball, they're not a halfcourt team. They play four guards for a lot of time. We're gonna have to do a good job of taking care of the basketball; trying to make them play in the halfcourt, then defending well in the halfcourt and keeping the ball out of the paint; and then rebounding the ball. Those are the three things we've gotta do well to win, with or without Chris (Evans)."
Next: The Golden Flashes will visit Ohio (16-6, 8-1) on Saturday at 11 a.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
-- Allen Moff