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UB faces Kent State Tuesday as MAC teams jockey for position

The race for the Mid-American Conference East Division regular season championship and perhaps the No. 1 seed in the overall conference tournament boils down to 12 games involving division teams over the next 11 days.

A key encounter will be Tuesday night in UB’s Alumni Arena, where the Bulls will face Kent State (6 p.m., TWCSN). UB (8-6 MAC) and Kent State (9-5) are two of three teams bunched behind first-place Akron (10-4) in the East Division race. Ohio (9-5) plays at Bowling Green (4-10) and Akron plays at Miami (3-11) Tuesday night.

The race was tightened last Friday when Kent State defeated Akron, 85-76, before a sold-out (6,327) M.A.C. Center in Kent, Ohio. Kent State won despite the absence of No. 2 scorer Xavier Pollard and sixth-man Jaylin Walker, both out for the season with foot injuries. Six-foot-9 Khaliq Spicer and point guard Kellon Thomas each scored 22 points for the Golden Flashes in the victory.

UB got point guard Lamonte Bearden back from suspension for last Saturday’s 88-74 home victory over Bowling Green, but the Bulls needed to rally in the second half to win it.

Coach Nate Oats’ Bulls won at Kent State, 76-67, last month, their third straight victory at the M.A.C., where UB had never won until 2014.

Willie Conner, with 22 points, and Bearden, with 21, led UB. The Bulls have won five straight over the Flashes and are 9-6 against them at Alumni Arena.