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RedHawks strengthening identity as they ready for Kent State

Melissa Moon - The Eastern Echo
Melissa Moon - The Eastern Echo

The Miami RedHawks haven't scored more than 75 points in a game since Jan. 5. They've been forced to grind out low-scoring, defensive battles and, for the last three weeks, it's been working.

After losing its first four Mid-American Conference games, Miami's won four of its last five, all while putting up 71 points or less. Overall, the squad averages 72.3 points a game this season.

In their latest outing, the RedHawks defeated the Eastern Michigan Eagles 59-48. It wasn't pretty, but it's indicative of the team's recent trend.

Miami has found its identity in defense and in winning the less glamorous aspects of basketball. It hasn't been lighting up the scoreboard, but neither have its opponents.

In the RedHawks' last five contests, no team has recorded more than 66 points against them.

"If you look at the last five games, I think our attention to detail, and from a defensive standpoint, has all been on point," head coach Jack Owens said. "The guys are competing. They're doing their jobs for the most part. We just have to continue to get better, and that's where we're at."

Miami will need to be on point when it travels to Kent tonight.

Entering the contest with a 16-5 record, the Golden Flashes don't have a particularly explosive offense, but they're hot and have the MAC's most explosive scorer.

They haven't tallied less than 78 points since a Jan. 15 win at Ohio, and they are coming off an 83-80 victory at Ball State. Senior guard Jaylin Walker leads the Kent State offense and the entire MAC in scoring with 22.9 points per game.

"They have four guys scoring in double figures," Owens said, "Obviously, it starts with Walker."

To counteract Walker and Co. and give themselves a chance to extend their positive streak, the RedHawks will need to continue their concentrated defensive effort and overall scrappy play.

"We just have to go with the same mindset we've had going on the road our last few outings, where it starts on the defensive end," Owens said. "We'll just continue to work offensively to get better and those kinds of things. But at the end of the day, we know this is going to be a fight."

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SCOUTING REPORT

THE GAME

Tipoff: 7 p.m. tonight at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center

TV/Radio: ESPN+/Miami IMG Sports Network

MIAMI REDHAWKS

Record: 12-10 (4-5 MAC)

Offense: 72.3 ppg

Defense: 69.0 ppg

PROJECTED LINEUP

Player (position, height, key stat)

Mekhi Lairy (guard, 5'8", 6.0 ppg)

Nike Sibande (guard, 6'4", 15.7 ppg)

Abdoulaye Harouna (guard, 6'5", 4.2 ppg)

Dalonte Brown (forward, 6'7", 13.1 ppg)

Bam Bowman (forward, 6'8", 9.6 ppg)

KENT STATE GOLDEN FLASHES

Record: 16-5 (5-3 MAC)

Offense: 77.3 ppg

Defense: 73.1 ppg

PROJECTED LINEUP

Player (position, height, key stat)

Jalen Avery (guard, 6'0", 12.3 ppg)

CJ Williamson (guard, 6'6", 8.0 ppg)

Antonio Williams (guard, 6'0", 10.8 ppg)

Jaylin Walker (guard, 6'3", 22.9 ppg)

Philip Whittington (forward, 6'8", 10.0 ppg)

PLAYER TO WATCH

Jaylin Walker

NCAA NET Ranking: Miami (142); Kent State (139)

vinelca@miamioh.edu

@ChrisAVinel

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