So, riding as high as they have in two years, BG now heads into one of the toughest places to win in the MAC...which is, HA, the MAC Center in Kent, Ohio. But seriously, this is historically a tough place to win. Now, this isn't the greatest Kent team. In fact, after years of being the MAC's signature program, they are now located firmly in the middle of the conference. They are 13-10 overall and 5-5 in the MAC.
They are playing well. They lost 4 out of 5 coming out of the box in the MAC but have won 4 out of 5 since then. That includes at 24-point win over Toledo to go with wins @EMU, @NIU and @Miami. Their only loss in the five games was at home to CMU, 100-90.
BG won its last game against Kent--in last year's MAC tournament in Kent--and has won two of the last 3 on the road against the Flashes.
The numbers below are for the MAC season as a whole. These numbers show a slightly below average offensive team (#8) and a slightly above defensive team (#5). (Interesting to note that the MAC is the #3 offensive conference in college basketball, based on offensive efficiency as noted on kenpom.com.) Anyway, the key things is that in this five-game run where they have been winning, they have been playing much better defense, holding the teams in all the wins under 1 point per possessions.
They are a very typical 3-shooting team. They are 7th in the MAC in the number of 3s taken and 7th in percentage made. They are 9th in the MAC in 2 FG%.
Now, when looking at the Kent defense. we see a team that is 5th defending the shot going against the worst FG shooting team in the MAC, even after the UT game. They are also 5th in creating turnovers and 8th in protecting the boards and free throw rate. They have been especially good in their little four-game run, holding the opponents in all their wins to 47% or under (or, below BG's last-place season percentage) and under 42% in 3 of the wins. This is going to be the challenge for BG. They scored against a UT team that is poor defensively, but can they score enough (and play better defense) in this game in order to get a third straight MAC win for the first time in the Huger era.
Individually, the Flashes offer two-time All-MAC first team forward Jimmy Hall. He averages a double-double, with 18.5 ppg and 10.8 PPG. He shoots 50% (good but not incredible for a big man) and averages 2.6 assists per game. Thankfully, after this year we are done with him. If you saw what Taylor and Johnson have done to BG....this is a similar challenge. He's less of a body overall but he's a better player, probably.
Their second leading scorer is Jaylin Walker, a 6'1"G from Romulus MI who has apparently declared himself an apostate to Nate Oates. Walker is very good. He has moved in and out of the starting lineup but averages 14.4 PPG. He shoots a lot. He shoots 38% overall and 33% on 3FGs. He also averages less than an assist per game.
The last double-figure scorer is Deon Edwin. He's a 6'3" SR who was a JUCO transfer. He scores 13 PPG on 48% shooting and 37% from 3FG.
Kent plays a deep rotation, essentially playing 10 guys for at least 10 minutes per game.
So, on we go. To win, BG has to rally emotionally and bring enough intensity to compete with the Flashes. It won't be easy, but if BG can build on the UT game and play with confidence, Kent is far from unbeatable, even if they are playing well.