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November 30, 2006

Flashback: Cleveland State

II Game Story With Sidebar

Kent State's 66-59 loss to Cleveland State on Wednesday was the second straight for the Golden Flashes, but there is no reason for concern.

"We played very well at Butler, that's probably the best game we played all year," head coach Jim Christian said. "If we could play like that I'd be very happy. We've just got to keep on getting better. We have to stay together and keep working at it. It's a long year; there's a lot of basketball yet to be played and that's what I told the team. We can't feel sorry for ourselves; nobody wants to feel sorry for us. We want to be a good team, so we have to learn from this and keep building, which we will. "

Looking on the bright side of things, the Golden Flashes learned that they have plenty of depth. Led by 12 points from Julian Sullinger and 10 from Isaac Knight, the players responsible for filling in for the injured Haminn Quaintance, Kent State's reserves outscored Cleveland State's, 40-16.

Add the nine points scored by Omni Smith and the seven by freshman Chris Singletary and the importance of Kent State's bench is easy to see. Those reserves played a key role in the second half when the Golden Flashes nearly crawled out of a double-digit hole.

"We just made a point of emphasis to play hard and we came in trapping the ball in the second half," Sullinger. "I felt like the run would be successful but we came up a little short. "

After leading the Golden Flashes to a come-from-behind victory against Temple, Mike Scott has scored just eight points in 66 minutes of play. The last time Scott was held to just three points was back on Feb. 25, 2006 against Miami (Ohio).

"He's pressing," Christian said. "He's playing hard, he's just having no results. Balls are hitting off his hands, he's getting stripped in the lane. He's just got to play his way through it. He's a good basketball player and he's had a great year up until the last couple of games. He's obviously a key component for us and we just have to work with him and keep getting him better. "

Wednesday night's game was very similar to the performance of the Golden Flashes during the last visit to the Wolstein Center on Dec. 11, 2004 when the Vikings led by as many as 19 points before Kent State stormed back for a 71-68 victory. Cleveland State always seems to play its best game when lining up against the Flashes.

"I thought they played hard last year too," Christian said. "This is a good basketball program. They do a good job, but it's always going to be tough to win on the road and it's always going to be tough for us to play here. We played here two years ago and it was the same game. We were down 16 or 17 but we made some free throws in that game. "

Speaking of free throws, Kent State hit on just 9 of 14 in the first half and 5 of 13 in the second for a dismal 51.9-percent on the night.

"You can't play on the road and shoot 50-percent from the foul line and expect to win," Christian said. "We've been a pretty good free throw shooting team, it's just one of those days. "

In addition to the cold spell at the free throw line, the Golden Flashes are still struggling with first half turnovers. Against Cleveland State, the Golden Flashes turned it over 11 times in the opening frame but only three times in the final 20 minutes.

"We've been like that," Christian said. "In the first half we have big turnover numbers and in the second half we play with three. We have to find our rhythm and we have not had it yet. We've had it in spurts, we've had it in stretches but we have not played a 40-minute game the way we 'd like to play yet."

Kent State's next chance at playing a full 40-minutes comes on Dec. 9 when the Golden Flashes travel to Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

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