Fresh off of a comfortable 78-65 road win over the Bowling Green Falcons last Saturday, the Ohio men’s basketball team is looking to get into a rhythm before they try to defend their Mid-American Conference tournament title crown in Cleveland.
Even though the Bobcats have had a lot of recent success against their next opponent, recent results around the MAC show that they cannot afford to take them lightly.
Ohio(21-8, 12-2 MAC) will look to put the pressure on pacesetters Akron when they travel to Alumni Arena to face off against Buffalo (12-17, 7-7 MAC) tonight at 7 p.m.
In their last outing, the Bobcats were able to overcome a slow start to collect win their 21st win of the season. One of the most encouraging signs for coach Jim Christian was the play of Nick Kellogg. The junior guard scored 16 points and made four three-pointers in the 13-point victory.
The Bulls come into the contest winners of four of their last six games. In their last outing, they were able to claim a shocking 81-67 victory against first-placed Akron in front of their home fans.
The main spark during Buffalo’s recent revival has been Javon McCrea. In Buffalo’s Feb. 27 overtime loss at Kent State, the junior forward had a night to remember, becoming the first men’s division 1 player in over 10 years to have a 32 point, 15 rebound and eight block performance.
In their upset win over Akron on March 2, McCrea scored 26 points, collected 6 rebounds and swatted four shots. If the Bobcats can limit his production, they stand a great chance of achieving a 7-1 MAC road record.
The Bobcats also need to continue to get production from their role players. Kellogg did have an impressive game against Bowling Green, but he needs to be consistent night in and night out for Ohio. Senior forward Ivo Baltic has scored four points in his last three games. If the Bobcats want to make another NCAA Tournament run, they need Baltic to increase his scoring output.
Ohio comes into the contest averaging 18.5 assists per game, which ranks first in the nation. The ‘Cats also average 74.4 points per game, good for No. 34 in the country.
Besides McCrea, Ohio must keep an eye on senior guard Tony Watson and junior guard Jarod Oldham. Watson averages 10.8 points per game and 3.2 assists per game, while Oldham averages 10.1 points per game and a team-leading 4.4 assists per game.
Reggie Witherspoon is the head coach of the Bulls. He is four wins away from 200 career wins at Buffalo.