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Men’s basketball searches for momentum in two midweek contests

<p>Without Nike Sibande, Dalonte Brown (pictured) will be counted on as a senior leader this season.</p>

Without Nike Sibande, Dalonte Brown (pictured) will be counted on as a senior leader this season.

The Miami RedHawks did not have the opportunity most teams relish.

After a big victory, teams typically like to get back on the court as quickly as possible, so they can attempt to continue their momentum.

Miami waited a full week to play again after besting the Mid-American Conference West-leading Northern Illinois Huskies on Feb. 15 at Millett Hall. The RedHawks had a midweek bye and lost 75-65 at Akron last Saturday.

Momentum slowed.

Now, they have two weeks to finish strong in the leadup to the conference tournament. 

Miami takes on Kent State tonight and makes up the coronavirus scare-induced cancelation from late January against Central Michigan on Thursday.

The RedHawks, losers of five of their last six contests, have struggled offensively. They haven’t hit more than 40 percent of their shots from the field since Jan. 25, and the defense, while improved, hasn’t been good enough to win them ballgames.

Junior guard Nike Sibande posted 14 points to lead Miami last Saturday, but he wasn’t efficient, converting only four of his 14 shots from the field and one of his six 3-pointers. He missed the Feb. 15 win over Northern Illinois due to the flu.

The RedHawks know what to expect from Kent State tonight, as they already beat the Golden Flashes in January. Neither team played much defense, but Sibande starred with 25 points. Miami made 50 percent of its tries from the field.

The victory didn’t lead to any momentum, though, as the RedHawks lost their next two games.

They hope for the same result but different follow-up this week.

No press conference

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Because of the close proximity between Akron and Kent State, Miami stayed in Northern Ohio for the past few days. As a result, head coach Jack Owens’s weekly Monday press conference was canceled.

Player to watch

Last season, the Golden Flashes had Jaylin Walker, who averaged 21 points per game and gave Miami fits. But he graduated last spring.

And while Kent State doesn’t have a Walker-type of scorer this season, it has several solid contributors. 

Senior guard Antonio Williams paces the team in points and assists per game with 14 and 3.6, respectively. He shoots 36 percent from downtown.

He’s not Walker, but he still commands attention. 

The RedHawks defended him well in the first meetup between the two squads, as Williams dropped five points, five dimes and turned the ball over seven times.


The Game

Tipoff: 7 p.m. Tuesday at the M.A.C. Center

TV/Radio: ESPN+, Miami Sports Network from Van Wagner


Record: 10-16, 3-10 MAC

Offense: 70.8 ppg

Defense: 71.8 ppg


Player (position, height, key stat)

Dae Dae Grant (guard, 6'2", 9.6 ppg)

Nike Sibande (guard, 6'4", 13.3 ppg)

Milos Jovic (guard, 6'4", 4.6 ppg)

Josh Brewer (forward, 6'5", 3.2 ppg)

Eli McNamara (forward, 6'9", 4.4 ppg)


Record: 17-10, 7-7 MAC

Offense: 76.1 ppg

Defense: 69.6 ppg


Player (position, height, key stat)

Antonio Williams (guard, 6’0", 14.0 ppg)

Troy Simons (guard, 6'3", 13.1 ppg)

Anthony Roberts (guard, 6’4", 12.5 ppg)

Tervell Beck (forward, 6'7", 3.6 ppg)

Phillip Whittington (forward, 6’8”, 9.6 ppg)