February 25, 2011

Flashes alone in first after win over Bulls

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KENT--Michael Porrini is a bad, bad man-but, in a good way.

On Saturday, the junior point guard and vital cog to Kent State's success
had x-rays done on his shooting hand.

On Thursday against Buffalo, injured hand and all, he brought the house to
its knees in the Golden Flashes 72-69 win at the MAC Center.

As the Golden Flashes held a one-point advantage with under 30 seconds to
play, Porrini received a cross-court pass from Rodriquez Sherman that
was a fingernail short of being stolen by Bulls forward Mitchell Watt.

Porrini drove the baseline, met Buffalo's Javon McCrea at the hoop,
reared back with his right arm so far it appears the ball was behind the backboard
and threw down a vicious dunk the likes of which no one thought he had in him.

"That was just action. I didn't know I put it all the way back
there till I just saw it," Porrini said after seeing the replays. "As
soon as I caught it, my first instinct was to go dunk it. It felt good too.
It was adrenaline. My hand does hurt [now]."

Head coach Geno Ford was surprised as anyone with Porrini's highlight
reel play.

"He really cannot dunk. I've spent the entire year telling him
that he can't dunk, but he goes so juiced up in those situations," Ford
said. "I couldn't believe he dunked it. It was as jaw dropping
a play to me as anyone in the building. [The] kid is a winner--he's been
here one season and he's made three clutch plays to win it in the end.
He is such a good competitor.

"You can tell how great of a play it is when the team can't even
react right. They call timeout, Sherman is on the ground, coaches are looking
around. I still didn't even realize he made it."

That dunk, which put KSU ahead, 70-67, with 19 seconds to play and should
be making an encore appearance on ESPN Sportscenter's Top-10 plays, was
just a chance at a rematch with McCrea, who has a five-inch, 45-pound advantage
over Porrini.

This time, David beat Goliath.

"To be honest I wanted to do [that] in the first half. When I got the
ball [that time], I kind of fumbled it and [McCrea] blocked the shot and I
fell," Porrini said. "Rod saw me wide open, and it was the same
play all over again."

Unfortunately, Porrini broke the first rule about dunking--never talk about

That's because guard Randal Holt, after his stellar dunk at
Western Michigan on Monday night, created "The Flight Club," which
is certainly welcoming Porrini as its newest member.

Following the hysteria, the Golden Flashes kept their poise.

KSU allowed a quick layup--which was acceptable, since the defensive focus
was on the 3-point line. Holt was then fouled and sunk two free throws to put
the score at 72-69 with eight seconds left.

Buffalo guard Byron Mulkey was harassed as the final seconds ticked away and
had his shot blocked at the buzzer by junior guard Carlton Guyton.

Porrini will receive all the hoopla, but Guyton lead the Flashes for most
of the game with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting and 3-of-3 from 3-point
range. He added five assists, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal while coming
off the bench.

Guyton was fantastic on offense, but for a large portion of the game it was
just a tad too little.

For nearly the entire game, Kent State always seemed to be within a basket
or two but couldn't climb over the hill.

That was until a Justin Greene steal was turned into an easy layup
for Guyton at the other end of the floor to finally break through and give
KSU a 57-56 lead with eight minutes remaining.

Eric Gaines stripped the ball a couple seconds later that led to
a layup and a foul that sent the gym into a frenzy and Ford into a running
fist pump.

What was more concerning than the constant deficit was just before the end
of the first half, the energy level on defense plummeted. Granted, KSU has
played four games in nine days and traveled 3,000 miles in a recent four-game
road trip, but that kind of drop-off is deadly to a team in a championship

"We were tired, we looked tired in the first half," Ford said. "I
was really worried about the game because I went in to give the pregame talk
and I looked like I was talking to zombies. Guys had glassed over eyes. We're

Ford was forced to make more frequent substitutions and use an expanded rotation
to keep everyone's minutes down in the first half.

"[In the second half], we came out more aggressive," guard Guyton
said. "For me, I was kind of lackadaisical. We would think we're
right there and then someone [from Buffalo] would make a big shot. So it kind
of had us down for a little bit."

Porrini added, "At this point in time we can't afford sluggish
starts. If we come out sluggish on Saturday [against Ohio] we're going
to get blown out in our own gym."

Kent State now holds a one-game lead in the MAC East, 10-3, over Miami. The
Golden Flashes face a tough game with weary legs against Ohio on Saturday.

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