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Mid-American Notebook

February 11, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Mid-American Conference Notebook

by Adam Trumble

The road proved to be a friendly place to Northern Illinois last week as the Huskies defeated Buffalo and Kent State to stay atop the Mid-American Conference’s West Division. In the East Division, Kent State maintained its lead over Miami, despite the loss.

Flashes win 3-of-4 in busy week

Kent State played four games within a seven day period, winning three of them.

The Golden Flashes started the week with a 70-60 win over Miami. The RedHawks, the second place team in the East Division, got 21 points from Juby Johnson but it wasn’t enough. Kent’s senior forward Antonio Gates led the Flashes with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

On Thursday, the Flashes traveled to Bowling Green to play their long-time rivals.

Kent State jumped out early to a 39-27 halftime lead, led by Gates again. Bowling Green tried to comeback late, but fell by six. Gates led the team in points (26), rebounds (8) and assists (6).

Gates is drawing attention in the race for Mid-American Conference Player of the Year honors. The senior is on a winning team which seems to impress most voters for the award. He’s competing with Ohio’s Brandon Hunter who leads the conference and the nation in rebounding (13.3) and is also in the top five in scoring.

Huskies chew up streak

Northern Illinois then stopped by Kent for the Golden Flashes third game of the week. The West Division leader topped a tired Kent State team who played without the much needed energy that Head Coach Jim Christian wanted.

He used the excuse that the Flashes had played three games in the week and it was tough for his team. Or maybe the Flashes just didn’t take Northern Illinois seriously.

For the Huskies it wasn’t Marcus Smallwood that beat the Golden Flashes it was Todd Peterson who scored 17 points off from the bench.

He knocked down 5-of-10 three-pointers and grabbed seven rebounds to keep NIU in first place in the West Division.

The loss snapped Kent’s eight game winning streak and put a dent in its hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament should they stumble in the MAC’s postseason tournament. The Flashes are 17-3 overall and 10-2 in the MAC.

Junior Eric Haut led Kent with 22 points, while Gates scored 12 — 10 under his average.

NIU had played the previous Saturday before playing Thursday night at Buffalo. The Bulls continue to struggle in conference play dropping a 70-61 decision at home. PJ Smith led the Huskies with 15 points while Smallwood grabbed 13 rebounds.

The Huskies have won eight-of-nine games and six in a row on the road. The Huskies public relations staff is calling this the “Worst-to-First Tour”. However, the Huskies finished 8-10 in the MAC West last season in front of Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan.

Chippewas keeping pace

In 2000 Central Michigan completed the first ever worst-to-first turnaround in Mid-American Conference history.

Last season the West favorite finished second to last. This season they are keeping pace with Northern Illinois in the West Division as they defeated Akron 99-92 in Akron.

Akron’s Derrick Tarver tried to keep pace with Akron’s more famous basketball player LeBron James. James scored 52 for his high school team, who could probably beat the MAC’s Buffalo Bulls easily.

Tarver scored 43 points and brought his team back from 21 points down but it wasn’t enough as the Chippewas played just good enough the final eight minutes of the game to hold onto the win.

Junior center Chris Kaman led the Chippewas with 12 rebounds and 28 points in the win.

Hoopville’s MAC Player of the Week

Kent State senior forward Antonio Gates. Gates scored 62 points in three games and grabbed more than 20 rebounds.


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