March 13, 2008

Title run starts tonight

Kent State's bid for an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament starts Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The No. 1 seed Golden Flashes face No. 8 Toledo in a 7:00 p.m. contest. The Rockets defeated No. 9 Bowling Green, 52-48, in Wednesday's first round action.

The Match-Up
Kent State (25-6, 13-3 in the MAC) enters the game as the tournament's top seed after having won the overall MAC and East Division titles. The MAC title was the second in three years for the Golden Flashes. Each time the Golden Flashes have won the MAC title (2001-02 and 2005-06) they also went on to win the MAC Tournament. The Golden Flashes have won eight of their last nine games. The Golden Flashes are making their 25th appearance in the MAC Tournament; they are a combined 26-20 in tournament games.

Toledo (11-18, 7-8) finished the 2007-08 regular season with two straight victories and won their third straight game in Wednesday's first round. That three-game win streak is the Rockets' longest of the season. The Rockets, defending West Division champs, are now 24-23 overall in the MAC Tournament. They are 1-3 in championship game appearances.

The Series
Toledo leads the all-time series, 77-40, but Kent State is 8-4 since the 2001-02 season. The Rockets picked up a 59-56 victory at Toledo earlier this season.

Kent State is 3-1 all-time against Toledo in the MAC Tournament. The last time these two teams met in the MAC tournament was in the 2006 championship game; a 71-66 KSU victory.

About Kent State
It's been a big week for the Golden Flashes. On Sunday, junior guard Al Fisher drained an off-balance 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left to play in a 61-58 victory over rival Akron. That win locked up the conference and division titles for the Flashes.

Then, the awards started rolling in. First, it was MAC Coach of the Year for head coach Jim Christian then Player of the Year for Fisher. On Wednesday, senior Haminn Quaintance was named Defensive Player of the Year and several Flashes were named all-conference. Fisher was named to the first team, Quaintance and senior Mike Scott were second team selections and sophomore Chris Singletary received honorable mention.

This is the third time Kent State enters the MAC Tournament as the No. 1 seed. The Golden Flashes are a perfect 6-0 as the favorite having won MAC titles in 2002 and 2006.

Fisher, who has started 26 of 31 games, leads the Golden Flashes in scoring with 14.3 points per game. He's also the team leader in assists with 131 and turnovers with 128. Scott is second on the team with 13.0 points per game and Singletary contributes 10.2 points per contest.

Quaintance, the only player in NCAA history with over 1,300 points, 850 rebounds, 250 blocks, 250 assists and 200 steals, adds 9.9 points per game. He leads the MAC in field goal percentage (61.1 percent) and blocked shots (2.1).

Kent State notes:

  • Fisher is the second KSU player to earn MAC POY honors (DeAndre Haynes - 2006)
  • Quaintance is the third player to be named Defensive POY (Demetric Shaw - 2001 & 2002; John Edwards - 2004)
  • Scott needs seven points to become the 24th player at KSU to score 1,000
  • Since 1998, KSU is 8-2 in the MAC quarterfinals
  • Seven of KSU's non-conference opponents finished either first or second in their league standings and represent six of the top 14 conferences in the RPI ratings
  • The Golden Flashes have won 15 straight MAC Tournament games as the higher seed, with the last loss as a higher seed a 69-68 defeat to Ohio in the quarterfinals in 2000
  • The 25 regular season victories this year set a school record for the most in a season topping the 24 won by the 2001-02 Elite '8' team
  • The 25 wins also equal the second most in a single season (25 in 2005-06; 30 in 2001-02)
  • This is the 13th season of 20-wins or more, for KSU including the last 10 in a row.
About Toledo
The Rockets opened the MAC Tournament with a 52-48 victory over Bowling Green Wednesday. Junior guard Jonathan Amos paced the Rockets with 15 points and of the Rockets' 11 steals in the game. Toledo committed a season-low 10 turnovers in the contest and forced 17 Bowling Green errors.

Two Rockets players rank among the MAC's best. Junior guard Tyrone Kent leads the MAC in scoring with 17.1 points per game and Amos leads the league with 2.54 steals per contest.

The key to victory for Toledo starts with shooting the ball. In their wins, they have shot 45.3-percent from the field. In their losses, their field goal percentage is a meager 37.0-percent. Not surprisingly, UT opponents have shot 49.4-percent from the floor in Rockets' losses and just 40.5-percent when Toledo wins.

Toledo finished the MAC season ranked second in the league in blocked shots. In MAC games only, the Rockets blocked 4.67 shots per game. Jerrah Young led the Rockets with 2.07 blocks per contest.

When it comes to subbing, you won't see Toledo coach Stan Joplin do much of it, especially in conference games. The Rockets had four players average 30 or more minutes per game. That number goes to five in conference contests.

Kent leads the Rockets in scoring with 17.1 points per game, while Amos (12.4) and Young (10.3) each contribute in double figures. Young leads the team with 6.5 rebounds per game and Kent leads the squad with 87 assists. Defensively, it's Amos with a team-high 71 steals and Young with 41 blocks.

Toledo Notes:
  • Since the start of Joplin's tenure, Toledo has ranked fourth in the MAC in winning percentage. The Rockets are 202-154 (.567) in that span
  • Joplin is second in the MAC all-time with 202 career wins
  • Young set a school record with 31 blocks during conference play
  • The Rockets shot 54.2-percent from the floor in a win over Central Michigan Sunday; their highest shooting percentage of the season
  • Toledo is 2-17 when its opponents have a higher shooting percentage
  • When a game is decided by five or less points, Toledo is 5-1; when the margin of victory/defeat is six or more points, the Rockets fall to 5-17
FSN Ohio will air the game live while the Voice of the Golden Flashes, Bill Needle, can be heard on WNIR 100.1 FM.

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