Following a 69-64 loss against the Buffalo Bulls on Wednesday night, the Ohio Bobcats will take on the Kent State Golden Flashes on Saturday at 2 p.m., which will be the team’s final regular-season home game.
“We’ll bounce back like any other time we lose,” Ohio coach Jim Christian said. “We have to identify what we have to do and come ready to play.”
The first time these two schools faced off, the Bobcats earned a 59-53 victory at Kent State on Jan. 8, 2013. It was the first MAC game of the season for Ohio.
“Every team evolves throughout the season,” Christian said. “We don’t have the same number of players. Certain guys have been hurt and certain guys have been out. Different players have emerged as well.”
For seniors Nick Kellogg, Jon Smith, Ricardo Johnson, Travis Wilkins and TJ Hall, this could be the last time they play in front of their home fans at The Convo.
“My time here has flown by,” Wilkins, a guard, said. “I have loved every minute of it. I have dreamed of playing at a D-I program. I couldn’t have picked a better place.”
Christian said that each of the seniors has had to change the way they look at and play the game.
“I have tried to be a better leader,” Wilkins said. “I’m not the most vocal player, but I try to lead by example. I try to do what the coaches ask of me.”
With their loss against Buffalo, Ohio’s home record in MAC play fell to 4-4.
Wilkins and the team are not pleased by their performances at The Convo.
“It’s frustrating,” Wilkins said. “We don’t want to lose at home.”
Christian, who coached Kent State from 2002-2008, is going up against the Golden Flashes for the fourth time as coach of Ohio.
“It gets a little easier going up against Kent State,” Christian said. “I don’t think it’s relevant any more. It’s the next game and we are coming off a loss.”
For Ohio to win on Saturday, it must contain junior guard Kris Brewer. Brewer leads the team in points with 12.2 per game and assists with 5.4 per game. He scored 28 points and added five rebounds in Kent State’s 75-63 victory at Miami.
Ohio (19-9, 9-6 MAC) has won the last three meetings against Kent State (15-13, 6-9 MAC). Kent State has not beaten Ohio in The Convo since 2011.
If Ohio wants to continue to be the No. 4 seed in the MAC Tournament, it must show more intensity than it has in recent games.
“We just need to bring more energy,” Wilkins said. “Hopefully we’re able to bounce back and bring some more energy and hopefully leave The Convo with a win.”