Kent State lost, 73-66, at Drexel on Friday as a part of the ninth annual
ESPN Sears Bracketbuster series, but almost lost much more than just an out-of-conference
Early in the second half, junior point guard Michael Porrini drove
the lane to his left, was hacked and began to favor his right wrist even before
The man who head coach Geno Ford has called a "pit bull" and "one
of the toughest players in the league" on more than one occasion stayed
down for a couple of minutes in obvious pain.
After missing four minutes of play, Ford's pit bull returned to the
floor and on his first play drove the lane and was again fouled.
Before his return, it'd be hard to believe coach Ford--and his staff,
and the players on the team, and the coaching staff-- wasn't holding
their collective breath just a bit.
Porrini has again and again demonstrated his vital importance to the Golden
Flashes' success on both ends of the floor; he's able to set up
teammates with his ability to drive the ball, he pushes the ball in transition
as well as anyone in the conference and is an outstanding rebounding guard.
That importance was verified on Friday night.
After falling behind early 20-14, Porrini made two layups--one an and-1 he
made into a 3-point play--and a jumper to bring KSU within one, 22-21.
Just a minute later, he committed his second foul and was then called for
a charge at the other end for his third, and had to sit down early with five
minutes remaining in the half.
For the next couple minutes, the KSU offense lost all rhythm and came to a
halt and Drexel tore the Golden Flashes to pieces inside on their way to a
Porrini, despite missing an extra seven to eight minutes of playing time,
scored 12 points with five of those coming after his return. His 12 points
were second only to Carlton Guyton's 17.
It was Kent State's inability to keep Drexel's two talented big
men off the glass, however, that buried the Golden Flashes.
Coming into the game, the Dragons, behind forwards Samme Givens and Daryl
McCoy, were averaging 40.3 rebounds per game, which ranks eighth in the country.
In Ford's pregame speech--which was aired on ESPNU before the game--Ford
warned of Drexel's rebounding prowess and that KSU would have to "go
get the ball like men."
His warnings weren't heeded.
Givens and McCoy had their way with the Golden Flashes inside, bringing down
14 offensive rebounds and 46 overall.
Just nine minutes into the game, the Dragons already had scored nine second-chance
Givens had an especially great night, scoring a game-high 17 and bringing
down 15 rebounds.
McCoy's presence was more felt while guarding forward Justin Greene.
Standing a rock-solid 6-foot-9, 270 pounds, he held Greene to just 4-of-16
shooting as KSU's leading scorer routinely bounced off of him in every
Greene did, however, bring down seven offensive rebounds and 15 total--he
was the only player with any success around the rim.
This was Kent State's second loss in three days--their matchup with
Western Michigan on Monday now holds even more importance.
The Golden Flashes, 8-3, are currently a half game out of first place to Miami.
Since KSU and Miami are 1-1 against each other, a second tiebreaker must be
The formula is winning percentage against conference teams, from top to bottom,
regardless of times played or division.
What that means is the deciding factor would be KSU and Miami's winning
percentage against the team with the next best conference record.
At the time being, that would be Western Michigan at 7-4, who beat Miami earlier
in the year.
A win against the Broncos would move KSU into first place.
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