The Golden Flashes held the Owls to just 26 percent shooting and only two field goals from inside the three-point arc in the final 20 minutes while pushing a slim 31-27 halftime lead into the double-digit victory.
Kennesaw State made only five shots in total during the entire second half, and one of those was a banked-in three pointer fired up with the shot clock running down by an Owl who hadn't made a three in eight games prior to Saturday. The Owls made just 32.6 percent of their shots (15-for-46) on the game.
With Kellon Thomas sidelined after suffering an injury in practice on Thursday, Derek Jackson stepped into the point guard role and finished with a career-high 11 assists. Jackson and backcourt mate Devareaux Manley also recorded two steals each while spearheading a Kent State defense that forced 19 turnovers.
"We played hard. We played smart. We played together. We played with pride," said Jackson, who added seven points while setting the table for others. "I thought we set the tone early on defense. And with my switch to point guard, my coach told me he wanted me to lead, so I wasn't focused on my shot. I wanted to get my teammates good shots and they kept knocking them down."
Manley buried 4-of-8 from three-point range on his way to a game-high 14 points. His two threes in the first three minutes of the second half helped the Flashes open up their lead. As a team, Kent State hit 9-of-19 from three-point range.
Kris Brewer and Jimmy Hall added 12 points each. Hall became the first player to score double digits in each of his first seven games in a Kent State uniform since Tyree Evans in 2008-09. He also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
The Flashes added some key contributions off the bench. During a two-minute stretch midway through the second half that saw KSU take its largest lead of the game, Marquiez Lawrence and Raasean Davis both scored in traffic while Chris Ortiz drilled a three from the corner.
"Everybody who came into the game contributed," said Senderoff. "It was great to see. I was most happy with the way everyone played on defense, though. We held them more than 30 points below what they average here in their own arena."
Kennesaw State began the day averaging 80.5 points per game on its home floor, compared with just 52 per game on the road.
The Owls were led by Delbert Love and Bernard Morena, who scored 10 points each. Yonel Brown, who began the day as Kennesaw State's top scorer at 14.3 points per game, was held to just three points, all from the line as he shot 0-for-8 from the field.
Following exams next week, Kent State goes back on the road Dec. 14 at Arkansas-Little Rock.
(Courtesy of Kent State Athletics)