Various News and Notes:
Cleveland State: - CSU (20-8, 10-5) is battling to hold on to the No. 2 seed in the Horizon League, which is good for a first-round bye. But the current four-game losing streak has everyone searching for answers with only three games left to the regular season, starting with the Phoenix (12-14, 7-8).
"There's a combination of things that are going wrong," CSU head coach Gary Waters said after Saturday's home loss to Drexel. "We're struggling, and playing back to back to back to back. We don't have a chance to clear our heads. We need to come up with something to keep teams at bay."
The Vikings also play Thursday and Saturday of this week, all Horizon League games. A loss to Green Bay would put CSU in a three-way tie with Detroit and Butler for second place, with Detroit holding the advantage via a sweep of the Bulldogs. That means Thursday's game with the Titans, even with a Green Bay victory, would still be for second place.
Over and above the loss of senior swingman D'Aundray Brown (groin), Cleveland State's shooting has gone south in a big way. During a five-game winning streak that preceded the current woes, the Vikings shot 50 percent or better in four games. In three of the four setbacks CSU has shot 25.9 percent, 37.5 percent and 27.0 percent. In all three, the Vikings failed to score 50 points.
Along with the shooting woes is the sudden demise of the bench. Injuries have played a big part, but the goal to have the most heralded freshman class in school history primed for the stretch run just has not materialized. After freshman Anton Grady (8.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg), the rookies have provided little more than giving the starters a breather.
"We have tried some combinations and they haven't worked," Waters said. "We're not going to quit. We're going to keep fighting until we get it right."
Kent State - The Flashes have to regroup quickly from a home loss to the College of Charleston that snapped a seven-game winning streak. The immediate challenge is getting the first road win in divisional play against the RedHawks (4-9, 8-17). That would keep KSU no worse than two games behind first-place Akron, but also maintain a hold on one of four first-round byes to the upcoming MAC Tournament.
Kent senior center Justin Greene, who missed the Charleston game with a sprained ankle, is probable against the RedHawks, pending how he recovers from Monday's practice. "No matter what, he won't be 100 percent," KSU coach Rob Senderoff said. "So we have got to find a way to get it done."
Ohio State - In the Buckeyes’ recent losses to Michigan State and Michigan, they made 33 of 102 FGs (32.4 percent) and managed 48 and 51 points. Senior G William Buford was 5 of 24 (20.8 percent). In three of the team’s five losses this season, it has shot 38.8 percent or lower. “I’ve got confidence we’ll make shots (Tuesday) night,” coach Thad Matta said.
In the past six games, the Buckeyes have averaged 3.7 fast-break ppg and would like to improve. “I think I can push the ball a little more,” PG Aaron Craft said. “Just put a little more pressure on the defense in transition and have these guys run with me and just get in a position where they can succeed.”