Cleveland, Ohio — The Cleveland State University men’s basketball team lost to the Northern Kentucky University Norse Saturday, 78-61. The Vikings fall to 6-19 (3-9) on the season.
The Vikings fell behind quickly to start the game, but used a couple of small runs to stay within reach. Foul trouble for Evan Clayborne and Stefan Kenic hurt the Vikings against a NKU team that is not short on size.
The Vikings flirted with getting back in the game several times during the second half, but NKU held their lead to seal the victory.
For a full game recap including comments from Head Coach Dennis Felton, click here.
At the half, the Vikings trailed, 40-26.
1. The hole left by Anthony Wright was exposed
NKU’s Drew McDonald (5 feet 6 inches, 250 pounds) exposed the Vikings’ lack of size throughout the game. This was apparent in the box score, as NKU dominated the boards, 38-20.
NKU’s due of forwards not only out-sized CSU’s bigs, but they also out-handled them. While Clayborne, Sloan, and Hairston were able to hang with them physically, they could not match their speed.
Because of Clayborne and Kenic’s early foul trouble, this as maximized.
Wright, a guard by trade who has moved to forward for this season, could have helped neutralize NKU’s tandem down low with his combination of length and speed.
2. Kasheem Thomas has excelled off the bench
Since being moved from the starting rotation to the bench, Kasheem Thomas has excelled in his new role.
Thomas has provided a spark off the bench, which was needed since Tyree Appleby moved into the starting lineup. Thomas, who stands at just 6 feet tall, oftentimes deals with mismatches on defense, but is not afraid to be physical.
Several times throughout the game, Thomas found himself guarding McDonald. While Thomas was clearly out-sized, he did not back down and kept a body on McDonald.
His contributions in the box score have been more significant as well.
3. CSU’s three-point-shooting has lacked consistency
There are two things that hold true in every CSU men’s basketball game: The Vikings are going to go on a few scoring droughts, and they are going to shoot a lot of three pointers.
CSU’s three-point-shooting has been off-and-on throughout the season. And when its cold, its very cold.
Saturday, the Vikings shot just 6-22 from distance. Over the past four games, CSU has combined to shoot 30-96 (31 percent) from three-point range, which includes a game where the Vikings made 14 threes against WSU.
Inconsistency from two of the team’s top deep threats, Bobby Word and Stefan Kenic, is partially to blame for this problem.
4. The last two games explains CSU’s season perfectly
Last game, CSU played its best game of the season and defeated the then number one team in the Horizon League, Wright State.
This time out, against NKU, which was tied with WSU atop the Horizon League, the Vikings were completely outmatched.
CSU proved against WSU that it can, when on and able to put together two halves, hang with any team in the league. But the lack of consistency from game to game has plagued CSU all season. It showed against against NKU.
UP NEXT: The Vikings head on the road to take on IUPUI Thursday at 7 p.m.
Photo by Sean McDonnell