MAC Semifinal: No. 1 UB (24-8) vs. No. 5 Kent State (17-16)
6:30 p.m. Friday at Quicken Loans Arena.
Radio 1520 AM. TV: CBS Sports Network.
The Set-up: The teams split in the regular season. Kent State won at home on Jan. 30, 82-79, rallying from an 18-point deficit late in the first half. UB won at home, 84-72, on Feb. 13. Kent State knocked UB out in the MAC quarterfinals last March, 68-65. Kent State went onto upset Akron in the final and make the NCAA Tournament.
The Matchup: Kent State is the one team in the MAC that can match UB's athleticism. And the Golden Flashes play with swagger. Even though Kent only went 9-9 in the regular season, this is a close matchup.
Quote: Central Michigan, which UB beat in Thursday's quarterfinal, is a finesse, three-point shooting team. Kent State is a physical team. UB knows it must be ready for a completely different style of game.
"It will be a way different kind of game," said UB coach Nate Oats. "It'll be the last man standing."
Kent's Top Three: Kent has the best true center in the MAC in 7-foot Adonis De La Rosa. He averaged 12.3 points and 7.9 rebounds. He was great in Kent's win over UB, scoring 20 points. UB will need quality minutes from center Ikenna Smart against Kent's big man. Kent's top two scorers are guard Jaylin Walker (16.6 ppg) and guard Kevin Zabo (14.8 ppg). Walker played for UB's Oats at Michigan's Romulus High School. He is a fearless player. He also never saw a shot he didn't like. In the first meeting, he hit some tough shots. In the second, he went 4 of 17 from the field.
Why 9-9? So if Kent is so tough, why did they lose nine MAC games. It comes down to De La Rosa and shooting. When De La Rosa is on and they're shooting well, they can beat any MAC team. When they're off, they're average.
Cardiac Kids: Kent State's last five games have gone down to the last possession or overtime, and the Golden Flashes are 4-1 in those games. For the entire season, Kent is 9-1 in games decided by one score or in overtime.