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Kent State at UTEP Preview/Open Thread

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The Miners go for their fourth straight Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational title against Kent State.

UTEP Miners

Record: 7-4, Conference USA

MinerRush Projected Starters:

Omega Harris, Fr, G, 6.2 ppg, back-to-back double digit scoring games

Julian Washburn, Sr, G, 9.6.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg

Vince Hunter, So, F, 16.4 ppg 1.3

Cedrick Lang, Sr, F, 10.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg

Matt Willms, So, C, 6.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg

Team Stats

Points Per Game 69.6
Opponents 63.0
FG% .468
Opponents% .411
3-point% .340
Opponents% .348
Free Throw% .661
Rebounds Per Game 36.6
Rebounding Margin +3.8
Assists Per Game 15.2
Steals Per Game

5.5

Kent State Golden Flashes

Record: 8-2, MAC

Projected Starters:

Derek Jackson, 6'1, Sr, G, 11.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg

Kris Brewer, 6'3, Sr, G, 11.3 ppg, .417% three point shooting

Devareaux Manley, 6'4, Sr, G, 11.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, .493% three point shooting

Jimmy Hall, 6'7, So F, 11.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg

Khaliq Spicer, 6'9, Jr, F, 4.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg

Team Stats
Points Per Game 64.5
Opponents 56.9
FG% .424
Opponents% .383
3-point% .401
Opponents% .300
Free Throw% .580
Rebounds Per Game 35.7
Rebounding Margin +3.4
Assists Per Game 11.2
Steals Per Game

5.5

Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff told me this after their opening round win against North Dakota State when I asked him what kind of a style the Flashes bring: "The way we play, it's never going to be pretty. But if you like watching a pitcher's duel in baseball, you'll like watching us because we play hard."

Senderoff and his crew will bring their 26th ranked scoring defense into the West Star Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational championship tonight against UTEP.

Despite only shooting a surprisingly cold 3/15 from behind the three point line against the Bison of North Dakota State, Kent State used their strength and length inside to win the rebounding margin, and hold North Dakota State to under 35 percent shooting from the field. Kent State came into the game ranking first in the nation against Division one opponents in three point shooting percentage.

Their offense is nothing special or tricky, they will feed the post as the usual first pass in their half court sets, let their bigs try to find the rim, and if it's not there, someone is coming off a perimeter action looking for a three point try.

Kris Brewer, and Jimmy Hall provided some clutch late game scoring, and needed play making in the final minute of NDSU game, but guards Derek Jackson, and Devereaux Manley also have to accounted for as both have consistent double digit scoring abilities, and can light it up from area codes behind the three point line.

It will be interesting to see how Kent State prepares and attacks UTEP, they like to slow it down and grind out a good shot, but with UTEP's struggles in guarding the three point line in transition, and Kent's struggles from three last night will they speed things up to try to catch the Miners off guard, and get themselves going?

Omega Harris and Matt Willms did all the little things right against Alcorn State, and Vince Hunter was well.....Vince Hunter.

UTEP will need the likes of Julian Washburn, and the slumping, to say the least, C.J. Cooper to show some sort of offensive life in this last ‘"true" non-conference tune up.

As always the Miners defensive tenacity will keep them in the game, but can a co-Alpha Dog (particularly a guard) become a scoring side kick alongside Vince Hunter to take this team to the next level?

That is the remaining big question as UTEP has showed its strengths, and of course weaknesses, but nothing will get this team more motivated to make this C-USA run with a fourth straight WSBDHSBI Championship.

Key Matchup

Jimmy Hall v. Vince Hunter

Both rebound, both have great body control around the rim, and their hustle seems to get their respective team going to spark runs or momentum.

Hall has been a big huge boost to the personnel options Senderoff has at his disposal, the sophomore new comer is very strong on the block, and even though is only 6'7, he knows how to use his body to push around bigger forwards.

Without Hall Kent State doesn't beat North Dakota State, and without Hunter, well let's just not into to that or even think about that.

But both are the engines of the dirty work a good team needs to dominate a conference, look for both to get after each other in a prime Mid-Major affair.

A-Rod's opening line: UTEP -7.5

Game Information
Who? Kent State Golden Flashes at UTEP Miners
Date/Time Monday, December 21st, 7:00 p.m. Mountain Time
Location Don Haskins Center, El Paso, TX
TV/Radio

No TV

Play-by-Play Available on the TuneIn App, or 92.3 FM In El Paso In English, Spanish 1650 AM In El Paso

Series Record Tied 1-1