Herd Gears Up For Illinois St., Kent St.

Some rest, a tune-up and then it's Kent State. That's what the Thundering Herd men's team experiences over the next seven days as coach Greg White's hoopsters head down the homestretch of the 2002-2003 basketball season.

Still in the fight for a home berth in the first round of the MAC tournament, the Herd plays a meaningless ESPN Bracket Buster game against Illinois State at home Saturday afternoon before the spiraling but still formidable Kent State Golden Flashes come to the Henderson Center on Tuesday, Feb. 25, in a Mid-American Conference encounter crucial to both teams.

The match up with Illinois State was just announced earlier in the month by ESPN, but it appears the Redbirds are no RedHawks. The latter variety manhandled the Herd this past Saturday, 69-49, to even MU's record at 11-11 overall and 7-7 in the league. Illinois State comes to town sporting a 4-18 record and a 3-11 Missouri Valley Conference mark. At one time this season, ISU had a 1-15 mark.

The Redbirds have since won three of six games, with all the wins coming at home. Last week ISU fell at Bradley, 88-76, and at home to Drake, 59-48. Marshall has never beaten Illinois State, having lost four games to the Redbirds from 1973 to 1977.

Coach Tom Richardson's team gets almost all its offense from a three-guard tandem of 5-9 Vince Greene, 6-4 Greg Alexander and 6-3 Trey Guidry. They all like to shoot the threes, having hit a combined 128 from outside the arc this season. Greene averages 12.3 points a game and the other two are averaging 11.2.

Kent State has two games to get back on track before visiting the Henderson Center. The Flashes host MAC cellar-dweller Buffalo on Tuesday (Feb. 18) and then Hawaii in another Bracket Buster game on Saturday. A 74-71 loss at Ohio this past Saturday was the third straight defeat for Kent, sending the Flashes' overall mark to 17-5 and to 10-4 in the MAC.

- The Herd takes a 11-11 overall record and 7-7 Mid-American Conference record into the ESPN bracket buster game at home with Illinois State and a home game with Kent State on Tuesday, Feb. 25. The Herd is 8-2 at home and 3-8 on the road after last Saturdayís 69-49 loss at Miami.
Illinois State -- The Redbirds are 4-18 overall and 3-11 in the Missouri Valley Conference after losing at home to Drake 59-48 at home on Saturday. The Redbirds are 4-8 at home and 0-10 on the road. They were 1-15 at one time, before winning three of four and have now lost two straight. The wins, all at home, have come against Jacksonville, 74-50; Bradley, 89-74; Northern Iowa, 76-71; and Indiana State, 60-52.
Kent State - The Golden Flashes, after starting the season 17-2, have now lost three straight to fall to 17-5 overall and 10-4 in the MAC. They were scheduled to host Buffalo on Tuesday, Feb. 17, and had an ESPN Bracket Buster home game with Hawaii on Feb. 22.

The Redbirds
are 0-3 against MAC schools, losing to at Central Michigan, 74-69; at Kent State, 76-61; and at home to Northern Illinois, 72-65, all before January. The Herd lost to Central Michigan at home, 81-78; lost at Kent Sate, 71-52; and won at Northern Illinois, 75-57.

- Through 22 games, MU was making 47.8 percent of their field goals (opponents 44.4 percent), 38.3 percent of its three-point goals (opponents 32.6 percent), 76.6 percent of its free throws (opponents 70.3 percent). The Herd was being out rebounding by its foes, 34.4 to 33.8, and had been averaging 14.8 turnovers a game to its opponents' 14. The Herd averages 75.4 points a game, limiting its foes to 73.5 points a game.
Illinois State - The Redbirds after 22 games are making 43.5 percent of their field goals (opponents 49.1 percent), 42.3 percent of its three-point goals (opponents 41.5 percent), and 73 percent of its free throws (opponents 71 percent). Illinois is being out-rebounded by its foes, 32.3 to 30.3, and had made 14.9 turnovers per game to its foes to 14.0. ISU is averaging 64.5 points a game while the opposition is scoring at a 72.1 per game clip.
Kent State - The Flashes after 22 games are making 49.8 percent of their field goals (opponents 44.1 percent), 41.1 percent of its three-point goals (opponents 36.2 percent), and 69.1 percent of its free throws (opponents 69.3 percent). Kent State is out-rebounding its foes, 35.8 to 30.7, and had made 13.9 turnovers per game to its foes to 13.5. Kent is averaging 77.7 points a game while the opposition is scoring at a 70.8 per game clip.

- A.W. Hamilton, 6-3 soph/guard, 3.8 ppg/5.7apg; Ronald Blackshear, 6-5 jr/guard, 21.6ppg/3.8rpg; Monty Wright 6-4 sr/guard, 9.9ppg/3.6rpg; Marvin Black, 6-7 jr/forward, 12.0ppg/8.2rpg; Ardo Armpalu, 6-10 jr/center, 9.0ppg/3.7rpg.
Illinois State - Greg Alexander, 6-4 so/guard, 11.2ppg/2.9rpg; Vince Green, 5-9 so/guard, 12.3ppg/4.5apg; Trey Guidry, 6-3 so/guard, 11.2ppg/1.6rpg; Marcus Arnold, 6-7 fr/forward, 8.5ppg/3.4rpg; Baboucarr Bojang, 6-9 sr/forward, 7.8ppg/5.1rpg.
Kent State - Eric Haut, 6-0 jr/guard, 15.5ppg/2.0apg; DeAndre Haynes, 6-2 fr/guard, 4.6ppg/4.6apg; Anthony Wilkins, 6-7 sr/guard, 8.8ppg/5.3rpg; Antonio Gates, 6-5 sr/forward, 21.4ppg/8.1rpg; Nate Gerwig 6-9 so/center, 9.0ppg/4.7rpg.

- David Anderson, 6-8 soph/forward, 8.4ppg/4.1rpg; Ronny Dawn, 6-3 soph/guard, 65.7ppg/1.7apg; Mark Patton, 6-9 fr/center, 2.8ppg/3.0rpg.
Illinois State - Dana Ford, 6-4 fr/guard, 2.0ppg/2.7rpg; Andy Strandmark, 6-11 sr/center, 4.1ppg/4.5rpg; Kevin Troc, 6-4 fr/guard, 3.0ppg/1.5rpg.
Kent State - Matt Jakeway, 6-3 jr/guard, 5.4ppg/3.0rpg; Bryan Bedford, 6-4 jr/forward, 3.2ppg/1.9rpg; John Edwards, 7-0 jr/center, 7.0ppg/3.5rpg.

Players to Watch For: Marshall- Ronald Blackshear is averaging 21.6 points per game. Marvin Black has been productive with a 12.0 scoring average along with his 8.2 rebounds per game. The Redbirds are led by little 5-9 guard Vince Greene, averaging 12.3 points a game, but recently had a career-high 28. Kent State likes to go inside to 6-5 forward Antonio Gates who is near the top in the MAC with a 21.4 scoring average.

Game Times:Illinois State, 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at Henderson Center; Kent State, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 25 at Henderson Center.

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