With about 12 minutes left senior forward Danny Pippen shushed the crowd after drawing forward Kaleb Wesson’s fourth foul. Kent State trailed 48-45, but were in the middle of a 25-8 run to tie the game. Below are five takeaways from Pippen’s performance and Kent State’s 71-52 loss at Ohio State.
1. Pippen emerged as the likely No. 1 option for the remainder of the season.
He played a career-high 38 minutes and scored 19 points on 7-for-16 shooting. He went 3-for-10 from 3-point range and added eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Despite his best performance of the season, he was unsatisfied.
“I’m not even worrying about the type of game I had,” Pippen said. “I was just trying to win. I feel like the refs were cheating us. They weren’t giving us any calls.”
He matched up with Ohio State's Kyle Young and Kaleb Wesson throughout the game, but Pippen felt the Buckeyes overlooked him and his teammates.
"The whole game they were talking to us like we were some little puppies or something," Pippen said. "I love games like this because I feel like I'm supposed to be here. I don't think any of them are better than me. Kaleb Wesson ain't better than me. Kyle Young can't check me."
Pippen’s confidence in himself and Kent State was evident after the Flashes' 89-59 win over Concord when he said:
“(Ohio State's) not that good to me. I look at them just like I look at a regular team just because Ohio State is a big team that doesn’t mean anything to me. I go into the game with the same game plan I had against Concord."
The Flashes trailed by as many as 17 points early in the second half before Pippen and senior guard Antonio Williams engineered a 25-8 run midway through the second half. Williams scored 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting, including two 3-pointers, while Pippen scored eight points on 4-for-6 shooting over the seven minute run.
2. Kent State struggled to score against a larger, more physical Ohio State team, especially in the final nine minutes.
Perhaps coach Rob Senderoff put the size difference in perspective better than anyone during his postgame press conference.
“Their strength coach deserves a raise,” Senderoff said. “The (Ohio State players) are ridiculously physical and tough.”
Ohio State outrebounded Kent State 41-27.
Senior forward Philip Whittington failed to grab a rebound in the first half, while playing the worst game in his Kent State career (more on that later).
Pippen’s eight rebounds were a game-high and Williams grabbed five rebounds. The two were the only Flashes to grab five or more rebounds.
3. Foul trouble kept Whittington on the bench for the majority of the game.
Whittington finished with five points on 2-for-4 shooting, three rebounds and a career-high five turnovers in 13 minutes. His four turnovers came in the first half and were more than he finished an entire game with prior to Monday's game.
Three of his fouls were on the offensive end. Kaleb Wesson forced the fifth foul that sent Whittington to the bench to watch the remaining seven minutes of the game.
“We needed Phil (Whittington),” Pippen said.“I’m not even mad at him because they called some cheap fouls on him.”
4. Sophomore guard Anthony Roberts and senior guard Troy Simons had their worst games of the season.
The pair combined to shoot 4-for-22 from the field, including 1-for-12 from 3-point range.
However, no missed three proved costlier than Robert’s wide open attempt from the wing off a baseline drive by senior guard Antonio Williams.
Roberts had a clear look, but the ball bounced off the rim. On the next Ohio State possession, guard Luther Muhammad shot a three from the left wing, but Simons fouled him on the attempt.
Luther sank all three free throws and the Flashes trailed 53-48 with 9:10 left.
The Buckeyes ended the final nine minutes on an 23-4 run. The Flashes failed to score for almost six minutes and made only one field goal the remainder of the game. During the run, Kent State shot 1-12, while Roberts and Simons combined to shoot 0-for-8.
5. Kent State hung with the No. 10 team in the country, despite several key players having arguably the worst games of their Kent State careers.
The Flashes’ roster is comprised of an odd amalgamation of upper classmen transfers and underclassmen, undersized freshman. But they had a very real chance of beating the Buckeyes inside St. John Arena.
“I don’t even want to say that they beat us because I feel like we beat ourselves,” Pippen said. “We needed all hands on deck, and we didn’t have all hands on deck today.”
Freshmen guard Giovanni Santiago played the fewest amount of minutes in his young Kent State career. He played less than four minutes before the mass substitution with less than two minutes left. Freshman forward Evan Bainbridge played six minutes. Both he and Santiago did not attempt a field goal.
Pippen remains confident despite the loss and perhaps so should Kent State fans. Prior to Monday night, Kent State had not faced a Power Five team, but they showed they can play with almost anyone after withstanding the early Ohio State run.
“If this would have been in the M.A.C. (Center) when we tied them up, they would’ve lost,” Pippen said. “If we played them in a seven game series, I feel like we would beat them in four (of the seven games).”
Contact Ian Kreider at email@example.com.