With 9:55 to play in the first half against Mississippi State, Kent State men’s basketball team seemed to be totally in control.
Senior guard Troy Simons had just hit a 3-pointer to extend the Kent State lead to nine against its SEC foes.
But after a media timeout, Mississippi State would outscore the Flashes 28-13 to take a six point lead into halftime.
Kent State would fare no better in the final 20 minutes.
The Flashes fell 96-68 in Starkville, Mississippi, by way of the two highest scoring halves they given up all season (MSU scored 45 in the first half and 51 in the second).
Coach Rob Senderoff said his team was outplayed and outhustled following that initial scoring run.
“This was an embarrassing loss for us,” Senderoff said. “They kept playing really hard and we didn’t, that’s the bottom line.”
Senderoff could not point to a specific moment when the flow of the game had changed, but said it was obvious that it had.
“When they were getting layups and driving the ball to the rim and getting on top of the basket whenever they wanted,” he said.
Kent State has been a strong rebounding team and has dominated teams on the boards this year, but Monday night was a different story.
MSU led in rebounding 40-28 behind the standout performance of sophomore Reggie Perry, who led both teams with 17.
“They got most of their misses (back), Reggie Perry was great on the glass,” Senderoff said. “They are a great offensive rebounding team, they have great length and size and tonight they were very, very physical.”
Another struggle for the Flashes team was over-fouling, with the team committing 26 fouls.
MSU capitalized on those Kent State mistakes, scoring 29 points (almost a third of its total) from the line.
Two Kent State players, Simons and senior forward C.J. Williamson, received technicals as well as both fouling out.
The lackluster Flashes offense was led by sophomore guard Anthony Roberts, who added three assists and two steals, but was quick to pull the trigger on 3’s and only went 2-8.
Kent State scoring leader Danny Pippen struggled all night, shooting 30 percent and only tallying one block.
However, Pippen still managed to score 11 points (second on the team) and pull in four rebounds.
This is the Flashes’ final out-of-conference game before Mid-American Conference play begins, and Senderoff said he hopes the team can use this loss to learn and grow going into that.
Kent State opens up its conference schedule at Bowling Green on January 3.
Contact Owen MacMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org