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February 3, 2007

First half run sparks KSU rout

For nearly six minutes Saturday afternoon it looked like Kent State had its hands full with visiting Eastern Michigan. The Golden Flashes eventually broke out of an early slump and cruised to an 81-46 victory in front of 3,462 at the MAC Center.

With the game tied at 2-2 with 14:16 left to play in the first half Armon Gates nailed a three pointer to start a 12-0 Kent State run that led to a 46-19 advantage at the break.

"We kept playing good defense and we made some shots," Kent State head coach Jim Christian said about overcoming the Golden Flashes slow start. "We missed a couple point blank shots to start the game."

The Golden Flashes' slow start did little to help Eastern Michigan's cause. The Eagles shot just 28-percent from the field and committed 20 turnovers. Kent State scored 25 points off those miscues.

"Tonight, it wasn't even the (shooting) percentage, it was just the way guys were flying around, guys were in help the whole game causing turnovers and again, this was now the third game in a row we've kept somebody under 50 (points)," Christian said. "That's very difficult to do, especially in our league where teams are so prepared and explosive; so we're on the right road we just have to keep it going."

Four Golden Flashes scored in double figures, led by a career-high 16 points from freshman Chris Singletary. Omni Smith, Julian Sullinger and Gates each contributed 12 points.

Kent State shot 56-percent from the field (28-50), including 8 of 13 from behind the arc, and 72-percent from the free throw line (8-13). After struggling early in the season from the charity stripe, the Golden Flashes have now shot 70-percent or better in three straight games.

"We've been working at it; we've been working at it all year, it's just that sometimes it gets contagious," Christian said. "Chris (Singletary) went to the line and got us off to a great start and guys followed suit. Hopefully we'll continue to shoot the ball well because that will be big for us."

The Golden Flashes entered the game scoring 69.1 points per game but against Eastern Michigan shot after shot continued to fall. The offense, paced by Jordan Mincy's career-high eight assists, distributed the ball around the court to create open shots.

"I don't think we've been playing poorly offensively," Christian said. "Some days you make shots, some days you don't. We're getting the ball to where we want to get it and we're getting it to people; today we just got hot and made shots, those nights happen. There's going to be some nights we shoot the ball like this and some nights we don't. I think we're playing unselfishly, I think we're executing right now better than we have and that's the byproduct of it."

The victory extended Kent State's winning streak to five overall and six at home. The Golden Flashes have now won 11 straight over the Eagles.

Game Notes:

  • Gates hit four three-pointers in the first half (4-4) after going 0-10 from the field his last two games, including 0-9 from three-point range
  • Gates became just the fourth player in school history with 180 or more career three-pointers
  • Brandon Parks scored a career-high nine points
  • Smith scored 12 points for his team-leading 14th double-double of the season
  • Haminn Quaintance pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, his most since grabbing 13 against Ohio
  • The 36-point margin of victory was Kent State's largest in MAC play since also winning by 36 against Toledo on Jan. 25, 2004 (92-56)
  • The 46 points allowed matched a season-low for KSU, which has done it in two straight games
  • The 46 first-half points scored by Kent State were the second most this season (49 vs. South Dakota State, Nov. 10, 2006)
  • Christian improved to 5-0 against EMU
  • KSU shot 50-percent or better from the field for the first time in 11 games
  • The Flashes improved to 72-14 all-time under Christian when scoring 70 or more points, including a 6-3 mark this season

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