Men’s basketball: Wilkins leads Ohio past Miami

Senior guard Travis Wilkins scored a career-high 23 points, Nick Kellogg scored a game-high 27 points, and the Ohio Bobcats erased an 18-point deficit to defeat the Miami RedHawks, 82-75, inside the Convocation Center on Saturday afternoon.

“A game like this helps my confidence,” Wilkins said. “It helps my team have more confidence in me to hit open shots.”

Wilkins hit six of his eight 3-pointers, and for Ohio coach Jim Christian, Wilkins’ starring performance was not a surprise.

“Travis does everything he’s asked to do every day,” Christian said. “He shoots every day. The game rewards you, and eventually you have your moment.”

This is the fifth-straight time Ohio (17-6, 7-3 MAC) has beaten Miami (9-12, 5-5 MAC). Ohio is now 49-6 in its last 55 games inside the Convocation Center.

The victory also marks the sixth time in the last 13 games Ohio has erased a double-digit second-half deficit to win a game.

With Miami leading 54-38 with 15:16 left to play, Ohio started to make its run. A 3-pointer from Kellogg and layup from Maurice Ndour closed the Ohio deficit to 11, 54-43, with 12 minutes remaining in the game.

Ohio was trailing 57-50 after Will Felder’s layup, but Wilkins hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull Ohio within three, 59-56, with 6:25 left in the game.

Wilkins made big plays for Ohio, but he was just happy to be on the court with his teammates.

“I was able to get in a rhythm and my teammates got me the ball,” Wilkins said.

Ohio took its second lead of the game with 5:36 left. Ndour converted on a slam dunk to make the score 62-61.

Following Quinten Rollins’ layup, which tied the game at 65, Kellogg connected on another 3-pointer to give the Bobcats a 68-65 lead with 3:04 left in the game.

After Kellogg’s 3-pointer, Jon Smith made an alert play. With the shot clock ticking down, Smith received the ball close to the basket, and he slammed the ball with authority to give the ‘Cats a 70-65 lead with 2:10 left to play. Smith was able to make his free throw after he got fouled on the dunk.

Geovonie McKnight converted on a slam dunk of his own to cut Ohio’s lead to 71-67 with less than two minutes to play, but Ohio was able to make its free throws down the stretch. Stevie Taylor, Wilkins, Kellogg and Ndour all made pivotal free throws for the Green and White.

“We needed to bring more energy,” Wilkins said. “In the second half, we were able to do that, which made us play better on both offense and defense.”

Ohio has now won 22 of their past 27 MAC regular season games.

With the loss, Miami’s conference road record is now at 3-3. The RedHawks have won four of their past seven MAC games.

Both Felder and Bill Edwards led the RedHawks with 19 points. Even though Miami outrebounded Ohio 31-26, Ohio did record 21 assists on 29 made field goals.

The Bobcats will now hit the road for two straight games. Before Ohio travels to Buffalo, the Bobcats will face off against Toledo on Wednesday at 7 p.m. On Feb. 1, Ohio came from behind to beat Toledo in overtime, 95-90.

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