The Kent State men’s basketball team has fought its way to its first 5-0 start since the 2002-2003 season.
Kent State physically dominated an outmatched Division II Concord at home, winning 89-59 to keep it's perfect record.
Kent State had struggled with slow starts this season but jumped out to a quick lead and never let Concord back in the game on Thursday.
“It was important that we started the game out well,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “That is something that we have not done very often. At halftime we had 11 assists and 10 offensive rebounds, so that was really good.”
Junior forward Danny Pippen led the team with 17 points and two blocks in only 14 minutes and 50 seconds, mostly in the first half.
Pippen was pleased with the team’s fast start as well.
“To start the season, we have been a second half team,” Pippen said. “We have been coming out sluggish and playing around with teams we shouldn’t be. So one of the main focal points was to come out and play our game.”
Kent State used its lead to get underclassmen and players who had been injured off the bench early and get them lots of minutes to prepare them going forward.
Pippen said those young players are very important to the team going forward.
“We’ve already been playing with them in practice, so they know what to expect,” he said. “So it’s really no big difference, we already have that chemistry. And we are going to need them. We need everybody on the team.”
One of those young players who contributed was freshman guard Giovanni Santiago, who came off the bench to play the most minutes on the team (21:51) and led with five assists.
“Gio continues to help the team offensively, but he has got to get better on defense,” Senderoff said.
Sophomore guard Anthony Robert did not start but continued to play well as he shot 60% from three to add eight points.
“Anthony is coming off the bench and playing really well,” said Senderoff. “He plays starter’s minutes, he is a starter coming off the bench.”
Roberts has been an important part of the offense in Kent’s hot start and said he does not try to prioritize his own scoring.
“I will try to facilitate first instead of just worrying about scoring,” Roberts said. “Playing inside-out, get Troy (Simons) some shots and then I’ll look for my shots.”
Senior guard Troy Simons has also been crucial to the Flashes’ success so far this season but he did not produce during this game, shooting only 1-7 from the field, six of those shots were three pointers.
His three points contributed to what was by far Simons’ worst night of the season, and Kent State will need him to get back to his usual production going forward.
Fellow senior guard CJ Williamson returned this week for the first time since suffering an injury in the Flashes’ win against Towson.
“It was good to get CJ on the court,” Senderoff said. “He is another guy who, at different points in the season will add a lot to our team. He is getting more comfortable.”
The Flashes’ next game is against Ohio State and Senderoff is excited for the chance to play an in-state Power Five program.
“We do not get many opportunities to play Ohio State,” Senderoff said. “We have got to get these games in and get ourselves ready for the (Mid-American Conference).”
Ohio State is also undefeated (4-0) and currently ranked 10th in the country.
Contact Owen MacMillan at email@example.com