Hoops Preview: #15 Virginia hosts Kent State on Friday
The Golden Flashes finally got a season opener in, beating NAIA opponent Point Park, 90-41, on Wednesday, after having had three previous scheduled openers – against Cleveland State, Alcorn State and Purdue Fort Wayne – scuttled due to those programs’ COVID-19 issues.
“We scheduled this game on Sunday, and we weren’t even sure if we were going to play until this morning,” Kent State coach Rob Senderoff said after the win. “I didn’t think we played great, but it’s the first time these guys have played basketball in such a long time that I’m just happy we got a chance to play and compete against somebody else.”
Kent State won 20 games in 2019-2020, finishing 9-9 in the MAC and winning its MAC Tournament opener over Eastern Michigan, before COVID shut the season down.
The Flashes were picked seventh in the 12-team MAC for 2020-2021 after losing five guys from Senderoff’s nine-man rotation, including two of their top scorers, Antonio Williams (14.7 ppg) and Troy Simons (12.8 ppg), to graduation.
Senderoff does have back preseason second-team All-MAC selection Danny Pippen, a 6’9” forward who averaged 14.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game a year ago, and 6’4” junior guard Anthony Roberts, who averaged 12.7 points and shot 36.3 percent from the floor in 2019-2020.
The rotation features a number of new names and faces. Portland State transfer Mike Nuga led the Flashes in the opener with 17 points and had five steals. JUCO forward Gabe O’Neal had 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting and six rebounds in 12 minutes.
Redshirt freshman guard Jeremy Hernandez had 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, and Temple transfer Justyn Hamilton had eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds, seven on the offensive glass.
- BartTorvick.com: Virginia 73-51, 98% win probability
- ESPN BPI: Virginia +19.7, 96.6% win probability
- KenPom.com: Virginia 72-55, 94% win probability
- Vegas Consensus: Virginia +19, 126 over/under
Story by Chris Graham