*Editor’s Note* This is the second post of six, on Ohio’s most significant games of the past four years. Come back tomorrow for No. 8 and No. 7. Here is the parent post.
10. February 16, 2013—Athens, OH: Ohio 78, Kent State 75 Overtime
When starting point guard D.J. Cooper, the player Ohio had counted on to make the big shots, fouled out with 32 seconds remaining in overtime, Ohio coach Jim Christian was forced to insert Cooper’s energetic backup Stevie Taylor.
With the Bobcats trailing 75-73, Christian drew up a play for senior guard Walter Offutt. Taylor, who had played just six minutes prior to re-entering the game, initiated the offense and stood on the right wing waiting for the play to develop. Offutt initially fumbled Ivo Baltic’s low bounce-pass and his defender Chris Evans dropped to the floor to try to steal the ball. But Offutt quickly recovered, leaving Evans behind and saw an opening as he drove down the right side of the lane.
With Evans beaten, Taylor’s defender sagged into the paint to try to cut Offutt off. Offutt spotted Taylor, who was sliding towards the corner in front of the OZone, and kicked it to the wide-open sophomore guard. Taylor, who was 12-30 (40 percent) on the season from three-point range, caught the ball in rhythm and hit nothing but nylon with 13.5 seconds remaining to put Ohio ahead by one.
The Golden Flashes had a chance to win the game but a steal from Offutt led to a breakaway layup by Nick Kellogg and Randall Holt’s desperation 30-foot three fell short as the buzzer sounded.
In an instance, Taylor was picked up by Reggie Keely and swarmed by his teammates and fans in front of the Marching 110. Seconds later, he was hoisted into the air on the shoulders of his teammates and enthusiastically saluted “Bobcat Nation.”
It was the biggest shot of the season for the Bobcats and the biggest shot of Taylor’s basketball career.
“Walt (Offutt) told me to circle up and he kicked it and I just hit a good shot,” said Taylor, generously listed at 5-foot-10-inches.
The win gave Ohio a 10-1 conference record and kept them a game behind league-leading Akron, which turned out to be the difference later in the season when the Zips stumbled down the stretch, resulting in a two-way tie for the MAC Regular Season Title (Ohio’s first since 1993-1994).
9. March 1, 2011—Athens, OH: Ohio 80, Akron 55
The “Green Fever” games at the Convocation Center between Ohio and Akron have become a staple late in the season, but it all started with the third annual “Green Fever” game on senior night against the Zips.
A few days before the game, Akron head coach Keith Dambrot provided bulletin board material for John Groce’s squad when he blasted Ohio’s ability to sustain leads.
“They are good for four minutes and then they are the worst team in America for the next four minutes,” said Dambrot.
The comments had the fans and players fired up and it carried over to the hardwood. After a see-saw opening 10 minutes, Ohio took control. They shoot 18-of-32 (56.3 percent) in the half from the floor including five three-pointers (four from D.J. Cooper) and ended the half on a 26-4 run to take a 44-22 lead into halftime.
Cooper continued his scorching hot shooting in the second half, at one point hitting three consecutive treys from NBA-range in 97 seconds, as Ohio’s lead reached 30 several times. Cooper finished with a near triple-double of 25 points, nine assists and eight rebounds while connecting on a career high seven threes to help the Bobcats demolish the Zips 80-55.
After the game, Dambrot admitted, “We kind of just lost our cookies all at once and then never could recover. They manhandled us in all areas.”