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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Men’s basketball pummeled at Kent State

Huskies tie worst loss of Burno era
Ryanne Sandifer
Redshirt sophomore guard Zion Russell passes the ball in an NIU men’s basketball home game against the University at Buffalo on Tuesday. Russell recorded 2 points in 27 minutes played in a 85-47 loss to Kent State University Saturday. (Ryanne Sandifer | Northern Star)

NIU men’s basketball (9-16, 3-9 MAC) suffered its worst loss of the season, an 85-47 annihilation at the hands of the Kent State University Golden Flashes (13-12, 6-6 MAC) Saturday.

NIU’s three-game conference win streak came to a screeching halt as Kent State completed the season sweep of the Huskies. The Huskies were dominated 39-17 on the glass and allowed the Golden Flashes to drain 10 of their 26 three-point attempts. 

“It was embarrassing,” said NIU men’s basketball head coach Rashon Burno. “We didn’t come to play. Not having (sophomore forward) Xavier (Amos) who is a big part of what we do and just the energy of the team. I thought the energy and attention to what we needed to do wasn’t there and it started from the opening tip.”

NIU junior guard David Coit returned to the starting lineup after a two-game absence, scoring 14 points and dishing out 3 assists. Even with Coit returning to the lineup, the Huskies’ injury riddled season continued as sophomore forward Xavier Amos was scratched from the lineup before tip-off due to back spasms. 

Sophomore forward Ethan Butler made his first start as a Huskie, filling in for the injured Amos. Butler made the most of his opportunity, scoring a career-high 17 points to lead NIU.

“I’m happy that Ethan had some positive results but this is more of a team embarrassment,” Burno said. “There’s no moral victories, but I’m happy for the young man because he works his tail off and he’s got himself into a position to play well, but it was a horrible performance overall for the team.”

The Golden Flashes were led by redshirt junior forward VonCameron Davis who scored 17 points and connected on all seven of his field goal attempts. Junior guard Jalen Sullinger matched Davis with 17 points of his own to go along with 7 assists and 2 steals. 

After a floater from Butler to tie the score at 4-4, the Golden Flashes went on a 25-2 run to take an insurmountable 29-6 lead midway through the first half. Kent State nailed six three-pointers in the first 11 minutes of the game to fuel their monstrous run. 

NIU was forced to play catch up the rest of the way, cutting the deficit to 18 at halftime. This was as close as the Huskies would get, as Kent State led by as many as 39 points in the second half. 

“You want to come out and compete whether you don’t have one of your better players, but this wasn’t an effort that we can ever hang our hat on,” Burno said. “It was an embarrassment and I take full responsibility, but we have to be better from a competing standpoint. Whether five starters are out there, whether you have four role players, this was an embarrassment.”

The Huskies will look to even up the season series with Ball State University at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Convocation Center. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and live stats will be available via SIDEARM Stats.

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