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Akron 62 Princeton 58.

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7'0" center Zeke Marshall was a perfect seven-for-seven from the floor including a 16' jump hook from outside his comfort zone to beat the shot clock buzzer with 1:35 left in regulation that inched his team up three as Akron closed on a 7-2 run to trip Princeton and stay unblemished at the James A. Rhodes Arena.

In a second half that saw the Zips lead by as many as six and Princeton fight back to take a 56-55 edge on a Hans Brase step-in jumper with 3:33 showing, the Tigers could not get the singular play that might have altered the result.

“The story of the night really was we could not stop them inside, which was disappointing because I think that’s going to be a strength of ours,” said head coach Mitch Henderson about a game where Akron got 48 of their points in the lane. “With a minute left we can’t do what we did tonight putting them on the line without giving ourselves an opportunity to win the game.”

An off-balance tying try from Clay Wilson behind an Ian Hummer screen caught part of the rim but did not come particularly close with three seconds remaining and a Marshall free throw provided the final margin.

Denton Koon was the recipient of myriad Hummer feeds on his way to 16 points. Hummer had 13 on 5-13 shooting, nine rebounds, seven dimes and six turnovers.

Hans Brase reached double digits in his third consecutive start, adding 10.

Marshall's 17 were complimented by 16 for the Zips' Nick Harney.

Postgame audio from Mitch Henderson and the rest of this recap can be found after the jump.

Coach Mitch Henderson:

It was a stubborn but exciting game. Princeton could not stop Marshall on the block but Marshall took himself out of the contest with a pair of first half personals. On their opening possession Akron posted Marshall who used a dropstep to discard Brase and dunk easily with two giant hands.

The Tigers answered with a T.J. Bray three from the right side, set up by Hummer spinning at the free throw line, but this bucket was the exception to a contest played almost entirely – with a few key exceptions – inside the arc.

Marshall’s offensive rebound of a well wild jumper got Harney free for a bucket yet the Zips’ advantage on the glass never materialized. It was one of just six offensive boards for a team averaging 12.8 second chances.

One thing Akron’s coaching staff refused to change until late in the second half was their defense that allowed Hummer to isolate inside and set up Koon sneaking behind/in front of the defense for layups. A “chin” set from Hummer to Koon curling bounced in for a 5-4 Tiger edge.

Both teams excelled defensively, throwing their bodies around. Brase drew an offensive foul on Marshall with a push off, then Hummer inside was blocked by Demetrius “Tree” Treadwell.

Alex Abreu hit from over Koon’s reach on the perimeter – Akron’s only three of the half - and Hummer curling to his right charged into Nick Harney. Not to be outdone, Brase absorbed a second charge, this on a Treadwell attack.

It was 11-7 Akron as a lob over Brase rewarded Marshall with a slam. On the prior possession Brase looked like a vintage Princeton center as he rumbled to his left off the glass in classic fashion.

Hummer blew by his man down the right side isolated for a tremendous one hand flush (I’d put it comfortably in his Top 10 career collegiate dunks), drawing the Tigers within two with 13:22 showing.

Princeton would not score for the next four minutes but Akron could only string together seven straight points.

Brase headed to the bench with his second personal due to fouling Marshall scoring inside after Brase had slapped a loose ball away. Following the whistle Brase and Chauncey Gilliam were awarded offsetting technical fouls.

Hummer’s jumper from inside the circle ended this drought and was immediately offset by Marshall getting a surprising continuation call on a drive and flip. The free throw was no good but Akron led 22-13.

Koon and Hummer combined for all of their team’s points until the half’s final possession - a 19:00+ stanza! Hummer with his right hand found Koon cutting to his left for a drive that dropped.

A wild runner for Harney sailed over the rim to Bray and Hummer’s second chance inside put him back at the line where he converted twice. The foul was charged to Marshall and he was done for the frame’s remaining 5:49. Without that size Princeton was able to operate their offense crisply.

Harney went left, spun off Bray and scored to his right off the glass.

Back came Koon past Harney for another banker.

Three tries by Harney (flatfooted, ugly) and Abreu (left corner, long) were sandwiched between Hummer isolated going left off the glass to bring his team within three.

Mack Darrow gave the ball back to Akron playing a two man game with Bray when he set an illegal screen.

Treadwell went at Hummer, who stood his ground. Treadwell was still able to face up Hummer, go into his spin move and score over the senior forward – a very nice play.

Hummer could not connect on a bounce pass to Koon for a turnover. The other way a likely two hand dunk from Treadwell was blocked remarkably by Koon coming over to help at the rim. Darrow rebounded, but Koon from Hummer once more was obstructed.

Koon slipped behind the defense on his third try and laid in a feed from Hummer.

Pat Forsythe was able to get up and under Darrow as Bray reached for a foul, splitting a pair at the line.

Henderson worked the final minute superbly. Hummer isolated once more and exploded to his left off the glass. Reggie McAdams’ far corner three with Bray charging out at him sailed to Connolly and to close the half Connolly rumbled to his right and banked home a unorthodox hook shot that pulled Princeton even.

20 minutes in and the Tigers were in a nice position, one I did not feel they would occupy at this juncture. Princeton shot 12-26 from the field (46.2%), 1-3 from three (33.3%) and a perfect 2-2 at the line (100.0%), both shots by Hummer who had 10 at the break. Koon added eight.

Akron shot 12-25 (48.0%), 1-8 from three (12.5%) and 2-4 on free throws (50.0%) as Marshall went for nine on 4-4 attempts.

A golden opportunity got away from Princeton as they inbounded to start the back frame. Hummer was isolated once more in the center of the lane and Treadwell fouled him going left but Hummer missed both his chances to move the Tigers in front.

Things went worse as Treadwell scored and was fouled by Brase, completing a three point play on Brase’s third personal.

Koon reversed a diagonal pass from Hummer for two and a 30-29 score. Marshall was able to score to his right as Brase saw no choice but to pull off.

It was Akron by three following a Harney hesitation move in the post versus Hummer offset by Hummer driving and dishing to Koon.

While this was transpiring Marshall also pushed off Hummer with his left arm, his third personal in 13 minutes of action.

Hummer tried to flop his way to a charge call as Harney bumped him. Down went Hummer, up went Harney and an uncontested layup somehow spun out.

After a Koon offensive rebound of a Bray miss, Koon cut without the ball and Darrow fed him perfectly with a one hand, one bounce pass that Koon was able to throw down with a single hand.

Darrow, who played 22 minutes off the bench, switched hands in the air running to his left, flipping a shot home with his right for a 40-38 count.

Princeton was themselves scoring inside regularly but could not fashion a stop. Forsythe backed in Darrow and used a hook.

Brase picked up his dribble yet still squared a shot in close and after a missed three by Abreu, Connolly’s sweeping hook was off, but there was Brase to tip the ball back in with two hands.

The Tigers had not sought many three point opportunities but how could Darrow pass up a feed from Hummer doubled in the post for a shot at the top of the arc that was pure. For the first time since 5-4, Princeton had the lead.

It did not last long as Forsythe scored inside over Hummer and after a Bray dropstep move was not rewarded Abreu grabbed an offensive board and following Bray being pushed to the ground had space to fire from three which made it 49-45 Zips.

Undeterred, Bray drove swiftly to his right and curled in a runner as Forsythe fouled him for a three point play.

Marshall returned with his team up one and with the big man on the floor an offensive rebound deflected to Harney for a gift basket.

Hummer attacked the Akron pressure and the last line of defense was Marshall who committed his fourth personal. Hummer split a pair at the stripe which made it 51-49. It was Hummer’s first point of the second stanza.

Hummer’s next pass was right to Abreu and Harney glided for a layup the other way as Henderson called time with 7:09 showing.

Wilson, who went scoreless on Sunday, was off from the right wing – wide open by the Princeton bench. Brase tipped up an offensive board and Darrow struck a second time from deep to make it 53-52 Zips.

The margin was the same with 4:38 left when Hummer backed in his man and scored off the glass. A right side three from Jake Kretzer was way off and with Connolly in the post the senior big fed Brase stepping into a midrange jumper on the right flank which bounced in, out and back in again.

The lane parted for Deji Ibitayo who could not finish an open scoop and a tip follow bounded over the backboard. Princeton had the lead and the ball.

Koon inside gotto the rim but his attempt rolled off and Treadwell facing up Hummer initiated contact, and went off the glass over him.

“We came up short on a few really important possessions,” Henderson said as he recalled the above sequence. “Once you get up one with the ball missing an easy shot underneath the basket that I think is going to go for us with Denton - that would have really put us in control up three.”

Darrow passed on an available three try and the Tigers’ next possession ended with Bray on the right wing from NBA distance launching an open but errant three.

Koon nearly got his hand on a lob pass to Marshall that hit the floor, where Koon was tied up. The possession arrow stayed with Akron and with one second to use of course a far off jump hook by Marshall beat the horn and saved the game for the Zips.

Koon hesitated and went to his left, improving to 21-23 at the line (91.3%) with a pair of free throws.

Akron had the ball with 1:14 showing clinging to a one point lead but the math favored Princeton. There was just one problem.

Having only committed three second half personals to this point, Connolly fouled on the floor, giving the Zips the ball with :47 to go and :35 on the shot clock.

Connolly looked to play sound defense on Marshall but was whistled for a bump from behind with :22.5 to go. Now Princeton could no longer ride out the possession, get a stop to try and win. They had to foul two more times.

Eventually Abreu was put to the line and the 81% shooter made both his tries. Henderson bemoaned after the game that this was the wrong Zip to foul.

The best Princeton could offer out of a time out was Hummer on the right arc as time dwindled drawing Wilson behind him for a desperate three that caught just a portion of the rim with three ticks left. Marshall rebounded and clinched the game with a free throw.

“It wasn’t a great look,” Henderson acknowledged. “I would have been happy with a strong drive to the rim.”

Henderson realized his team had played well, just not well enough to beat a Top 50 team in their own arena.

“I’m happy with where we are as of December 30, but also knowing that we’ve got to be pretty on the ball if we’re going to win games – we’re not catching a lot of easy breaks with the way we’re built,” he said.

A break like a 16 foot hook in the waning moments that cost Henderson’s team their final game of 2012 as well as a second straight significant victory to close the year.


-Princeton was 24-50 from the field (48.0%), 3-9 from three (33.3%) and 7-11 at the line (55.6%) with the Tigers going 5-9 after intermission (55.6%) and Hummer 3-6 on the night (50.0%).

-Unexpectedly Princeton won the glass 28-22 with 10 offensive boards.

-Akron shot 26-49 (53.1%), 2-13 from three (15.4%) and 8-11 on free throws (72.7%).

-Five of Koon’s baskets came off Hummer assists.

-Will Barrett (thigh bruise) returned to the starting lineup and was scoreless in 10 minutes of action.

-Barrett’s replacement Darrow had a nice line – Eight points on 3-3 shooting with five rebounds in 22 minutes

-Princeton finished the calendar year with a 18-12 record.

-Thanks to everyone who joined me in The Forum tonight. I hope you and yours have a healthy and happy New Year!

Coco said,

December 30, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

Very late in the game, the Akron announcers reported that at that point 48 of the Zips points had come from in the paint! Not sure what the final tally was, but that pretty much tells you why they won. Plus the Tiger turnovers.

Jon Solomon said,

December 30, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

Only 12 turnovers for Princeton as a team. I'll take that against a pressing squad such as Akron every time.

Stuart Schulman said,

December 30, 2012 @ 10:41 pm

12 isn't a lot big turnovers but they came at exactly the wrong times, or were just silly. Hummer telegraphed at least 3 passes for easy steals.

Stuart Schulman said,

December 30, 2012 @ 11:23 pm

BTW If I'm Kyle Koncz, I'm wondering why they couldn't have scheduled Kent State and Akron while I was playing...

George Clark said,

December 30, 2012 @ 11:50 pm

This was a very gritty performance on the road against a skilled and confident opponent. Muscala and now Marshall have given Brase an awful lot to absorb in a hurry, and he has done well. While it's not too surprising that he got into foul trouble against those guys, he'll need to improve in that aspect. The emergence of Koon as a consistent scorer and better than adequate backcourt player is a story line that can't be overemphasized. He started the year on the bench, the odd man out behind bigger people up front and shorter, faster players in the backcourt. When it became clear that the backcourt rotation needed an adjustment Koon accepted the challenge. Tonight no Tiger had more minutes.

George Clark said,

December 31, 2012 @ 9:41 am

Jon-Just listened to your interview. Get some rest, you sound like you need some. The in-game forum was a lot of fun. Great addition to the site. While the Akron play-by-play guy was annoyingly "homerish," I had to smile to myself when hearing him describe Hummer's play. He was most surprised to see an athlete like Ian in an Ivy League uniform, especially since Akron had not faced anyone like him so far.
I had a chance to see Cornell in action yesterday afternoon in Binghamton. The Bearcats' coach is Tommy Dempsey, the former Rider skipper, who came from Dunmore, PA, near my hometown. Cornell squandered most of a 15 point halftime edge, but held on to win 79-77. The Big Red will be typically problematic for the Tigers: they shoot a lot of threes, Shonn Miller is vey talented, and Chemerinsky is another skilled big man in the paint.

Jon H. said,

December 31, 2012 @ 10:48 am

Another close loss. I hope that Ian can do something in the home stretch of the season and his career to improve his foul shooting. Less than 60% isn't good enough to win close games against good teams. Hummer is such a complete player absent this one weakness. Imagine him and the team in the Ivies this year if Ian could shoot 80% or better!

Daniel Maass said,

December 31, 2012 @ 11:06 am

A disappointing loss, but there are a few positive take-homes:

1) While we got murdered in the paint, we did rebound very well against a (some what) larger team. We will not face a true 7'0'' center like Marshall during Ivy League play
2) We seemed to handle the press well, and certainly much better than we have in previous games. There were several times when I thought the game might get out of hand but we were able to recover each time.
3) The players who have exceeded my expectations this year (Brase/Koon) are underclassmen while the ones who have disappointed the most (no names) are not. That bodes well for the future.

That said, we could use some guys like the type of player I expect Spencer Weisz to be - play makers who can fill up the stat sheet - sooner rather than later

Steven Postrel said,

December 31, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

We tend to think the team looked good when the offense runs crisply, as it did last night for the most part. (Hummer made a few ill-advised passes but the risk-reward was decent as a number of similar needle-threaders turned into ultra-high-percentage looks for Koon.) The Tigers even hit the offensive boards effectively. Foul shooting continues to be an issue, but the number of attempts wasn't that high--even a better percentage team might have an off night like the one against Akron. This was a good offensive performance, and if Wilson had had a bit more luck from three...

The problem is that this wasn't a great game defensively. Fortunately, the two sporadic weaknesses of the past went away, for the most part, as the Zips were mostly shut down from three and the defensive rebounding was good overall (Akron corralled about 1/4 of their misses). But the FG% defense from two and in the paint just wasn't that good for Princeton, a team of big guys who understand post play. Marshall being tough to stop is one thing, but Harney and Forsythe also abused the Princeton D, going 12 for 19, with the latter 4 for 5. These guys are good, big, aggressive offensive players, but that just won't cut it for a team that relies on getting misses more than forcing turnovers. Princeton had just one block and very few block attempts on most of these post possessions; sometimes the Tigers did a good job of doubling down to dig at the big men when they put it on the floor, but I didn't see a ton of weakside help swatting at the ball in the air on all those Akron spins and dropsteps.

There were a few possessions where Princeton went to a zone, and that worked great--except that Akron got ORs on two of those possessions, leading to a quick return to man-to-man. I would love to see Princeton play aggressive zone more of the time against teams with inside presence, but not if they can't get in enough practice at blocking out from the zone. It's no use stymieing the offense into putting up a bad initial shot if they're just going to recover the rebound for a good shot.

The good news is that a) no opponent in the Ivies has an inside game as good as Akron's, b) Brase has huge upside and Koon is still improving, c) Darrow is rounding back into form, d) Barrett still has some X-factor games inside him, and e) Princeton has proved it would contend this year for the MAC title.

George Clark said,

January 1, 2013 @ 9:09 am

Very interesting discussion thread. I am quite sure that if you had told Henderson before the game the Zips would score 62 he would have taken it in an instant. But Steve's point regarding the way Akron was able to score is a good one. They made a lot of shots because they got a lot of very good looks, and that's troubling. Barrett's minutes were down, I assume because he's still hurting. When he's 100% or close he gives us a lift at both ends.

Jon Solomon said,

January 1, 2013 @ 10:35 am

Akron is 19th-best in DI shooting the ball inside the arc (54.6%).

Princeton isn't the only team they've been able to score inside on. It is what they do and they do it real well.

I'm more inclined to side with George's description of the game as "a very gritty performance on the road against a skilled and confident opponent." than to just put the result in the same pile as Northeastern and Wagner as just "another close loss."

Feeling much better, though sleeping until 4:00 pm ET on New Year's Eve is not recommended.


Steven Postrel said,

January 1, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

Happy New Year to all!

I agree that this was a relatively "good loss" in terms of overall performance against the opponent. But it wasn't great inside D., with the opponent having two volume shooters above 75% on inside moves. OK D, even excusable D, but not great D. That said, I'll definitely watch Akron with interest this season, because they looked very good at both individual and team levels. Not too many college teams play with that much old-school post offense.

Jon Solomon said,

January 2, 2013 @ 10:38 am

From Ken Pomeroy's latest blog post, and probably of interest to Steven:

"Akron seven-footer Zeke Marshall has been pretty absurd so far in his senior season. 66% on twos and he’s fifth in the nation in drawing fouls where he’s made an outstanding (for a big) 73% of his tries. Not to mention fifth in block rate to go with career-best rebound numbers at both ends."

Steven Postrel said,

January 2, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

Which makes it even more impressive how well they played with him sitting with foul trouble for much of the game. His backup Forsyth went four for five and Harney was hot too. Would love to see these guys take out a high-major conference team in the NCAAs

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