Ohio rides five-game winning streak into “Battle for the Bricks”

When Ohio takes its undefeated conference record into Oxford Wednesday night, the Bobcats will be taking on a much different Miami team than in years past.

Ohio (13-5, 4-0 MAC) will take on the RedHawks (7-9, 2-2 MAC) for the first time since the retirement of Charlie Coles. The former head coach retired in March after 16 seasons.

Coles’ 358 wins in Oxford is the most in school history. His 1998-99 squad reached the Sweet 16, a team that included future NBA All-Star Wally Sczerbiak.

Coles’ influence on MAC basketball is extensive. Even Ohio coach Jim Christian, who coached with Coles in 1995-96, considers Coles a mentor.

John Cooper, Coles’ successor, has his work cut out for him. Last season’s RedHawk squad recorded 21 losses, the most in school history.

One bright spot for Miami is junior guard Allen Roberts. He is the RedHawk’s top scorer, averaging 13.1 points per game. A slashing guard, he visits the foul line frequently, where he makes 85 percent of his attempts.

The RedHawks will have their hands full with a hot Bobcat team that is playing its best basketball of the season. During Ohio’s current five-game winning streak, the Bobcats are beating their opponents by an average of 17 points.

For perhaps the only time this season, Ohio has the edge in rebounding. Miami averages 28 to Ohio’s 31. Reggie Keely, fresh off a career-high 24 points against Toledo, should have another huge game inside.

Though it may be a mismatch on paper, the hardwood version of the “Battle for the Bricks” brings out the best in these squads. Last season’s matchup on “Gary Trent Day” saw the Bobcats escape narrowly with a 69-65 victory. In 2011, the teams played a triple overtime classic in the Convocation Center, a 92-88 victory for the RedHawks. And in 2010, there was Tommy Freeman’s miracle three.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p,m. at Millet Hall in Oxford.

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