Head coach Rob Senderoff finally gets a chance to lead his new team onto the floor as he guides the Kent State Golden Flashes against the West Virginia Mountaineers in an early morning basketball event in Morgantown.
The Golden Flashes are coming off a 2010-11 campaign in which they claimed their second straight Mid-American Conference regular season title and an appearance in the NIT quarterfinals. The team finished 25-12 overall and is the only program in the country that returns three of it's conference's major award winners in 2011-12.
As for the Mountaineers, their season got off on the right foot as they posted a 78-71 win over Oral Roberts on Friday. WVU has now recorded 36 consecutive home non-conference wins, a program record, and is 55-2 at home versus such opponents over the last nine seasons.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Mountaineers are ahead by a 1-0 count following a 65-54 win in the first round of the 2004 NIT.
The Golden Flashes are set up for big things this season as they follow the lead set by Justin Greene, the 2010-11 MAC Player of the Year who averaged 15.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg and 1.4 bpg. A starter in all but one of the team's games, Greene shot a sold 47.8 percent from the floor and was a constant at the free- throw line where he converted 70.9 percent of his attempts. Carlton Guyton, last year's MAC Sixth-Man of the Year, was a serious threat from three-point range at 40.1 percent as he put up 12.4 ppg, while Michael Porrini (10.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 160 assists) is the MAC's reigning Defensive Player of the Year after posting 65 steals. Randal Holt (9.9 ppg) is also capable of hitting the perimeter shot for KSU, connecting on a team-best 66 triples last year, but he ended up shooting just 38.8 percent from the floor overall.
Playing 38 minutes in the opener, Kevin Jones established himself as a key player for the Mountaineers as he tallied a team-best 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the floor. Jones also cleared eight rebounds and made a pair of blocked shots for a team that shot an impressive 58.8 percent from the floor. Darryl Bryant chipped in 17 points and handed out five assists, followed by Deniz Kilicli and Aaron Brown with 11 and 10 points, respectively. But even though the team picked up the win, there were still plenty of glaring issues for the Mountaineers as they were beaten on the glass, 37-24, turned the ball over 21 times and shot just 5-of-15 behind the three-point line. Jones and Bryant are the two returning players who were double-digit scorers a season ago, averaging 13.1 and 11.3 ppg, respectively, the former also pacing WVU on the glass with seven and a half rebounds per contest.