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NIT Preview - Kent State vs Tulsa

Tulsa at Kent State, Wed., 7 PM

 

Kent State headed into the MAC Tournament having won 13 of its last 14 games. But a hot streak going into the conference postseason doesn’t mean much if you can’t keep it going. The Flashes were stopped in their tracks in the quarters by Ohio.

As MAC regular season champion though, Kent State will continue its season in the NIT. It receives a four-seed, meaning another home game. The opponent will be 23-11 Tulsa out of Conference USA.

Tulsa’s season ended in the C-USA semifinals. Without a bye, the Golden Hurricane blew past 12-seed Rice in the first round and then defeated the 4-seed Marshall in the quarters. But when Tulsa ran into red-hot UTEP in the semis, it started slow and never got on track. UTEP ran out to a 15-4 lead in the game’s first few minutes and the closest Tulsa got was within five with 12:06 left in the first half. UTEP led by as many as 20.

A trio of high scorers paces Tulsa. Kingston, Jamaica’s Jerome Jordan is Tulsa’s king inside. At 7-0, 251, Jordan is an interior force. He averages 15.2 PPG and 9 RPG. In 30 of Tulsa’s 34 games, he recorded double-digit points and he is doing so with a high efficiency, shooting 54% from the field.

 

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6-3 Ben Uzoh, a senior like Jordan, averages 15.3 PPG. 6-4 junior Justin Hurtt puts up 14.2 PPG and is another guard with size.

The matchup of Kent’s stellar Justin Greene and Tulsa’s Jordan will be a fun one to watch. The sophomore Greene has had a breakout season but was not as involved in the team’s final two games. Kent will need him to produce here.

Tulsa’s only MAC opponent this season was Ohio. The Golden Hurricane eeked out an 81-80 win at home in December. In that game, Jordan got into foul trouble and was effectively shut down in 23 minutes on the court. Kent State too will need to keep Jordan a non-factor.

Kent State faced a C-USA team in November, getting its signature win of the season. It beat UAB 72-65. Tulsa’s signature win came against 7-seed in the tournament Oklahoma State, an 86-65 crushing. Kent finished with a better RPI, 48 to Tulsa’s 68.

However, Tulsa is superior by a good deal in the major stat categories of field goal percentage, field goal defense and rebounding margin. The Golden Hurricane get on the boards with a 5.6 rebounding margin to Kent’s 1.4. This is a key statistic that should tip the scales in Tulsa’s favor.

Chris Singletary will do all he can to keep his college career alive. Expect a big game from him at home. However, the experience of Jerome Jordan will trump Justin Greene inside. Uzoh and Hurtt will provide the rest of the scoring punch to pull away in a game that’s close at the half.

Prediction: Tulsa 72, Kent State 65

 

 

By Connor Kiesel
VanDelay Sports Staff Writer
Published March 16, 2010

 

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