Kent State Fends Off Buffalo 73-62 To Advance To MAC Tournament Semifinals
Box Score (.PDF)
Golden Flashes to face Ball State on Friday at 9:30 p.m. in the semifinals
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Kent State quickly forgot about its recent trend of slow starts, using a strong first half to help take down Buffalo, 73-62, in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Thursday (March 10) at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The No. 1 seed in the tournament, the Golden Flashes (22-10) now advance to the semifinals and will face the winner of the No. 4 Ohio - No. 5 Ball State quarterfinal match-up on Friday at 9:30 p.m.
Kent State led from start to finish as senior guard Rodriquez Sherman (Indianapolis, Ind./Ben Davis) paced three players in double figures with 18 points. Junior forward Justin Greene (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) and junior Michael Porrini (Massillon, Ohio/Gulf Coast C.C. [Fla.]) each recorded a double-double, with Greene totaling 16 points and 10 rebounds and Porrini chipping in 13 points and 10 boards. The 2011 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, Porrini also established a Kent State MAC Tournament record with six steals while his seven assists tied for the second most in a single game in school conference tournament history.
The Golden Flashes jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first two-and-a-half minutes of play on their way to a 41-25 first half advantage. Sherman, who had four points in the opening spurt, totaled 15 in the first stanza as he sparked a strong transition game for Kent State that totaled eight fast break points and six points off of turnovers.
"I thought that we won the game in the first half," said head coach Geno Ford, the 2011 MAC Coach of the Year. "They were the only team in the league that really beat us convincingly. So it was important for us to come out with a good start and establish a tempo early on."
Buffalo (18-13) went inside to freshman forward Javon McCrea to cut the lead down to four, but Kent State re-established control with a 12-3 run highlighted by a three by Darius Leonard (Raleigh, N.C. / Kestrel Heights) and two buckets by Greene. McCrea, the 2011 MAC Freshman of the Year, lead all scorers with 28 points and 13 rebounds.
In the second half, a three by sophomore Randal Holt (Cleveland, Ohio/Bedford) and baskets by Greene, Porrini, Sherman and junior Carlton Guyton (Chicago, Ill. / Mineral Area C.C. [Mo.]) helped the Golden Flashes maintain their double digit lead midway through the period. McCrea, who had 17 points in the first half, came alive again and started taking over for Buffalo, sparking an 11-2 run with eight points over a three-minute span that shaved the score down to 56-52 with 7:51 remaining.
Greene answered with the first of two free throws and two minutes later Holt followed with a jumper for a seven point lead as Kent State once again steadied the ship. The Golden Flashes shot just 13-22 (59.1 percent) from the foul line in the second half, but managed to make just enough down the stretch to seal the win and advance to the semifinals for the 14th time in school history.
• Greene (16 points - 10 rebounds) has had a double-double in four straight games. His 12 double-doubles this season are the most by a Kent State player since Trent Grooms had 21 in 1979-80.
• Porrini's seven assists are the most by a Kent State player in the MAC Tournament since 2004 (DeAndre Haynes, 3/13/04 vs Bowling Green)
• Porrini's six steals are the most by a Kent State player since Chris Singletary had six vs TAMUCC on Dec. 20, 2009.
• It was the first win by Kent State over Buffalo some place other than the M.A.C. Center since 2008.
• Kent State improves to 10-1 in the MAC Tournament as the No. 1 seed and 27-4 as the higher seed.
• Kent State has won the last 17 games in the MAC Tournament when scoring 70+ points (20-2 all-time)