The Kent State basketball team is coming off gut-wrenching losses to Toledo and Northern Illinois. The Golden Flashes have a four-game losing streak and could find themselves in a deep hole with a loss to the University of Akron today.

UA coach Keith Dambrot doesn’t care.

He knows what his team is in for as the Zips (14-6, 6-1 Mid-American Conference) prepare to take on the Golden Flashes (11-5, 2-5) at 6 p.m. at the M.A.C. Center in front of a national TV audience.

“They’ve just hit a rut like most teams do and they haven’t gotten out of that rut yet,” Dambrot said. “[Rob Senderoff] has been down this road before where he’s rallied his team and he’s turned them around. He’s a good enough coach to turn this thing around.”

And it is a rivalry game not to be taken for granted.

“We’ve been in the league at 2-4 and won the tournament,” Dambrot said. “You can say what you want, but they’re one of the five best teams talent-wise in this league — even to this point.”

Senior forward Demetrius Treadwell agreed with his coach’s assessment.

“You always know that’s going to be a tough one. They’re going to be ready to play,” he said. “We’ve got to come in there emotionally ready to play. I don’t really feel it should be that hard to get up for our rival.”

Freshman forward Kwan Cheatham confessed that the situation might be a little daunting.

“I’m actually anxious,” he said. “It’s the first time being in that environment, so I’ll just be mentally and physically ready for that.”

Dambrot said looking at the Golden Flashes is akin to looking in a mirror.

“Their issues have been very similar to our issues — they’ve not put it all together yet. They have some of the same issues that we have, but when they play they’re very good,” he said.

However, KSU is the same team that beat Temple, almost did the same to Seton Hall and played Toledo much tougher than the Zips.

That elusive chemistry has allowed the Zips to start putting things together as their three consecutive wins can attest. It took a punch in the mouth from Toledo and a lineup shake-up, but there’s no denying what’s currently happening with the Zips.

“After the Toledo game, we realized there were some things we had to work on to get better. One of the things was team chemistry, like I keep preaching,” Treadwell said. “We went back to the drawing board. We’ve been practicing a lot harder, working on our relationships with each other. We’re playing the best basketball of our season right now.”