Men’s Basketball: Ohio looking to end losing skid against Akron

Including the Mid-American Conference tournament, the Ohio men’s basketball team tallied a 15-3 conference record last season.

The squad’s three losses came against one team, and that one team will be Ohio’s next opponent in conference play.

The Ohio Bobcats (11-3, 1-0 MAC) will be hoping to win their fifth straight game when they host MAC East division rival Akron (9-5, 1-0 MAC) on Sunday at 6 p.m.

In their conference-opening clash against Kent State, the ‘Cats used their stellar defensive play to earn a 59-53 road victory Wednesday night. The Bobcats held Kent State to 28.3 percent shooting (17 of 60) in the victory.

Senior guard Nick Kellogg led all scorers with 19 points while also adding six rebounds and three steals in 33 minutes of action.

TJ Hall, who has replaced the injured Ricardo Johnson in Ohio’s starting lineup, recorded seven points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Travis Wilkins supplied two key 3-point baskets in the second half and finished with eight points.

In the latest NCAA RPI report released Friday, Ohio came in at No. 57. The Green and White own three victories against teams ranked in the top 100 of the report: Northern Iowa, Mercer and Richmond. The ‘Cats also own two losses against teams in the top 10: Ohio State and Massachusetts.

The Bobcats have performed well in their recent regular season conference games. Jim Christian’s squad has won 25 of its last 30 regular season conference games, and they have also won 20 of their last 21 league games inside the Convocation Center.

Ohio and Akron have dominated the MAC in recent years. The two schools have combined to represent the MAC in the past five NCAA Tournaments. The teams have faced off in three title games over that span, with Ohio winning two of the three meetings.

The Zips were picked to finish first in the MAC East division in the league’s preseason poll. In their nonconference slate, Akron earned victories against Oregon State and Cleveland State.

One of the areas to watch in the game Sunday is the matchup between forwards Maurice Ndour and Demetrius Treadwell. Treadwell, who has posted four double-doubles so far this season, leads the team with 12.9 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per contest. Senior forward Quincy Diggs is second on the Zips in scoring with 12.2 points per game and leads the squad with 2.9 assists per game.

For the Bobcats to be successful, they will need to get contributions from all of their star players. Ndour must do his best to control Treadwell inside and stay out of foul trouble, while Kellogg, Hall and Wilkins will have to shoot well from the outside.

The Bobcats and Zips will meet for the 70th time Sunday. Ohio holds a 35-34 lead in the all-time series, but Akron did beat Ohio, 65-46, in the final of the MAC Tournament last season, which condemned the Bobcats to the NIT and gave Akron the opportunity to participate in the NCAA Tournament.

Akron is coached by Keith Dambrot. Dambrot has accumulated a 218-99 record in 10 seasons as the head man in Akron.

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