January 25, 2009

Simpson has big night in loss to Zips

Junior forward Anthony Simpson definitely was a bright spot for Kent State head coach Geno Ford and the Golden Flashes in a 68-54 loss at James A. Rhodes Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Simpson finished with career highs of 16 points and 16 rebounds, including 12 on the defensive glass.

"Anthony was fantastic tonight," Ford said. "But it's hard to win on the road in a tough environment with only one guy playing well."

The 16 rebounds are the most by a KSU player since Haminn Quaintance had 16 against Ball State on Feb. 6, 2008. Playing 39 minutes, Simpson ignited a 12-2 run to start the second half to get the Golden Flashes back to within four with seven points during the run.

"Big Three" continues to struggle
Kent State's three-headed monster in the backcourt of offensive production, consisting of Al Fisher, Tyree Evans and Chris Singletary, struggled once again in a MAC game.

"The big three have struggled to be very honest," Ford said. "Last Saturday (against Miami) they were a combined 8-of-30 from the field and today they're 9-of-34. The reputation and production have got to match up. Those guys at some point have got to make shots."

In addition to the poor shooting the three combined for three assists and 14 turnovers, including six each from Evans and Fisher.

Evans battles flu
Evans was battling the flu the last few days and did not start the game. It could have been because he was sick or has been struggling shooting the basketball, or both.

"He was going to play just because he didn't want to sit out but he was on IV (fluids) last night for four hours," Ford said.

McKnight brothers have their way
Akron's sophomore forward Brett McKnight scored a career high 29 points shooting 10-of-11 from the field. He also made a career best seven free throws and added six boards, two steals and one assist. His older brother Chris McKnight was 4-of-6 from the floor and tossed in 11 points. The McKnight brothers combined to go 14-of-17 from the field for 40 points, which spelled disaster for the Golden Flashes as their forwards could not match up with the burly tandem from Lancaster, Ohio.

"All they had to do was get it inside to the McKnight's, either one of them, Brett certainly had more points but we didn't get them guarded at all," Ford said. "The only time they didn't score was when they didn't have it."

"We did a good job throwing the ball inside to the McKnight brothers and they delivered for us. We did a much better job throwing the ball to the right place," said Akron head coach Keith Dambrot.

Fisher and Singletary battle foul trouble
Both Fisher and Singletary were in foul trouble early in the second half and missed large chunks of the second half as Ford attempted to play the offensive/defense substitution game with Fisher for nearly 10 minutes. Singletary eventually fouled out at the 5:51 mark on a foul under the basket that left Akron's Nate Linhart on the floor. Fisher picked up his third foul at the 18:15 mark. After waiving off his coach's thought of a substitution as if to say, "I'm OK coach, let me go," Fisher promptly picked up his fourth foul the next trip down the court on an offensive foul with 17:56 to go in the game.

Quotes of the Game
Keith Dambrot: "Nobody has more respect for Kent State basketball than I do. I believe by the end of the year they will be right in the mix for a MAC title. There are many people that thought both of our teams were done, but I don't think many people would want to play either team in the MAC tournament at the end of the year. That was a really strange game today."

Geno Ford: "After we got the lead we had good looks on three or four of our next possessions, but didn't get them to fall. Then down the stretch we just didn't have anyone who could guard the McKnights."

More NotesJordan Mincy now has 299 career assists and 99 career steals... Kent State's starting line-up of Fisher, Singletary, Mincy, Jared Sullinger and Simpson was the sixth different this season and the third different line-up in the last three games…Akron's 14-point victory is the largest margin of victory for Akron over Kent State since an 85-70 win at Kent on March 1, 2003…After surrendering the lead for the first time at the 8:23 mark in the second half, Akron trailed just 28 seconds and closed the game out on a 21-6 run over the final 7:55.

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