Miami at Kent State, 1450, 980
The last time Miami played Kent State, junior guard Kris Brewer came off the bench to torch the RedHawks for 28 points — including sinking all seven of his 3-pointers — in a 75-63 Golden Flashes win on Feb. 19 at Millett Hall.
Miami senior guard Quinten Rollins wondered after that game why Brewer wasn’t in Kent State’s starting lineup. That mystery apparently is over. The 6-foot-3 Brewer has started in each of the Golden Flashes games since, including their 75-61 Mid-American Conference win at Ohio on Saturday.
That win, coupled with Miami’s 78-55 loss at MAC East Division-leading Buffalo the same day, dropped the RedHawks into ninth place in the overall conference standings. If that doesn’t change, they would play the eighth seed on the road in the first round of the MAC Tournament on Monday.
The eighth seed belongs to the Golden Flashes by virtue of their earlier win at Miami, which gave them the edge in the first tiebreaker, head-to-head matchups. Miami (11-16, 7-9) can flip the positions with a win Tuesday at Kent State (16-13, 7-9). Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Second-year RedHawks coach John Cooper is expected to deploy what has become a standard starting lineup of four guards – senior Quinten Rollins, junior Will Sullivan and sophomores Geovonie McKnight and, for the past three games, Willie Moore – and senior forward Will Felder.
“It’s five guards, really,” Cooper said. “Guys have gotten used to it now. It gives us a little bit more in transition – getting up and down the court. Obviously, the question being all the time is are we going to be able to rebound. This group continues to be scrappy.”
Cooper saw that again in Miami’s loss to the Bulls. The RedHawks led, 30-28, at halftime before Buffalo shot a blistering 68 percent (17-of-25) while outscoring Miami, 50-25, in the second half.
“Obviously, it was a tale of two halves,” Cooper said. “In the first half, our effort certainly was good enough. We were able to overcome a lead they had taken. Our guys continued to compete. Then the second half starts and we were OK for a while, but they went on a run, and we never answered any of their runs. Our energy level was not good enough for us to overcome our inefficiencies on the offensive end. We couldn’t score.”
Cooper hopes the offense becomes more efficient as his players adjust to the wrinkles in their roles.
“It’s created a lot of versatility,” he said. “(Freshman forward) Josh Oswald knows every single spot. He’s been running them on his own in practice. Will Sullivan is so valuable because he knows every single spot. We find a lot of times on the sideline that we’re saying, ‘What can we execute with this group that we have out there?’”