Justin Greene is Kent State's best low-post scoring threat. Randal Holt the Golden Flashes' top outside shooter, Rodriguez Sherman the most athletic playmaker and Carlton Guyton the best at scoring points in bunches.
But when the game is on the line, and Kent coach Geno Ford needs someone to make something happen, he will put the ball in the hands of his junior two-guard Michael Porrini.
Other than Holt, Kent's 3-point specialist, there isn't a Kent starter that shoots as poorly as Porrini...not by a wide margin. He connects at just 38.2 percent from the field and is a miserable 23 percent from 3-point range. He even struggles on the free-throw line, connecting at just 68 percent. But none of that matters when the game is in the late stages of the game. Porrini was at it again when Kent travelled to Bowling Green to take on the Falcons in Anderson Arena.
The Golden Flashes seemed to be cruising towards their 20th victory of the season, and when Sherman, the lone senior on the team, connected on a 3-pointer from the left corner to give Kent a 49-39 lead with 9:20 remaining in the game they seemed to have the situation well in hand.
That feeling did not last long.
The Falcons went on a 7-0 run that was capped by a Jordon Crawford jumper at the 6:47 mark. Porrini ended the run with a short jumper of his own, over the smaller Crawford, to give Kent a 51-56 advantage.
Again the Falcons responded, scoring the next two baskets of the game to pull within a point at 51-50, and again it was Porino who gave Kent some breathing room...hitting another jumper, this one a high, arching shot over 6-foot-8 A'ustin Calhoun, to put the Flashes up 53-51 at the 4:08 mark.
BG tied the game at 53-53 by hitting three straight free-throws. However, Mike Dabney missed the second of two at 2:15 with Porrino grabbing the rebound. He hit another jumper at the other end to break the tie.
Finally the Flashes were able to put the Falcons away at the 1:33 mark. Porrini had a hand in this basket as well, driving to the basket and kicking the ball to an open Sherman in the left corner. Sherman cashed in the triple to give Kent a 58-53 lead and close BG out.
"We tried to get the ball to Mike (Porrini) in the middle of the zone because he is the best on our team at creating offense for himself and others," Ford said. "In the second half he took over and either scored or find an open teammate just about every time he got a touch in the paint. He made some tough shots again tonight including the huge basket with the game tied, but I think the real dagger was when he found Sherman open in the corner for the three."
Porrino scored seven of Kent's final 14 points as Kent clinched a 20-win season for the 12th time in 13 seasons and clinch a first-round bye in the MAC Championship Tournament. He also tied a career high with nine assists.
The Golden Flashes, now 20-10 overall and 11-4 in the MAC, will host Akron in their season finale on March 5. A win over Akron and a loss by Miami in either of its final two games (at Buffalo March 2 or at home against Ohio March 5) and the Golden Flashes will clinch the MAC East title. Miami currently sits a half-game behind Kent in the East standings.