Men’s Basketball: Bobcats, Student Princes set to square off Saturday

FonticellaBasketballValpo17Through four games, junior guard Stevie Taylor and junior forward Maurice Ndour have made Bobcat supporters forget about the brilliance of D.J. Cooper and Ivo Baltic’s poor senior season.

The ‘Cats (3-1) have a superb opportunity to build on their previous victories against Valparaiso and Morgan State in front of their home fans starting Saturday. Taylor, Ndour and the rest of the Bobcats will be keen on extending their win streak to three games when they host Division III foe Heidelberg for a 2 p.m. tipoff.

The Bobcats went back and forth against Morgan State on Wednesday in Baltimore, but when Jim Christian’s squad needed a basket most, Taylor converted the game-winning layup and free throw to give the Bobcats their first nonconference road victory since December 2011 against Northern Iowa.

Reigning Mid-American Conference Player of the Week Ndour paced the Bobcats with a 13-point, 8-rebound effort in the victory Wednesday. The Senegal international has scored in double figures in every contest so far this season.

One of the keys for the Bobcats to avoid a letdown Saturday is protecting the paint, and that starts with redshirt senior Jon Smith and Ndour. Smith ranks second in the MAC with 2.8 blocks per game, while Ndour sits fifth in the MAC with 2.5 blocks per contest.

Smith needs one block Saturday to tie former Ohio great Gary Trent for seventh place all-time in Ohio’s history. The Grove City, Ohio, native currently has 104 career blocks.

The Green and White will also need a strong outing from senior guard Nick Kellogg. The Westerville, Ohio, native is 64 points away from becoming the 36th player in Ohio history to reach the 1,000-point milestone. Kellogg’s potential to catch fire from the field will open up other opportunities for players to score, including Ricardo Johnson and Taylor.

Kellogg is also fourth on Ohio’s all-time three-point list with 212 career trifectas.

Heidelberg (1-1) is led by first-year head coach Andy Bucheit. The Student Princes opened the season in the Mount Saint Joseph Invitational, where Bucheit’s men beat Transylvania by a score of 72-59 and lost to Mount Saint Joseph 63-56.

Ohio needs to make sure junior Marcquice Taylor and senior Keith Mackie do not have memorable games at the Convocation Center. Taylor leads the team with 12 points per game, and Mackie is distributing 7 assists per game, which leads the squad.

These two squads have faced off seven times previous, with the Bobcats winning the last five meetings. The last time these two teams met was December 1984, where the ‘Cats claimed a 77-70 victory at the Convo.

 

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