Updated Tue, Nov 22, 2011 12:23 am
Ohio beat Arkansas St. 69-54 Sunday afternoon to up their unblemished record to 3-0 on the young season. Lead by five scorers in double-digits, the 'Cats put away a Red Wolves team that fell to 1-3 Sunday with the loss.
What it means: Ohio played its most complete 40 minutes of the season according to head coach John Groce. With a 1-2 team entering the Convo Sunday, and a date with top 10 Louisville next on the schedule, it was good to see Ohio not fall into the trap of looking ahead. The 'Cats controlled the game from the opening tip trailing only 6-5 in the opening minutes. This team has adopted coach Groce's "one game at a time" philosophy and will enter Louisville's Yum Center with confidence.
Spreading the wealth: The Ohio offense boasted five different players with 10+ points Sunday. D.J. Cooper, Reggie Keely, and Nick Kellogg lead the way with 13. Junior transfer Walter Offutt scored 12 while grabbing nine rebounds and Ivo Baltic collected 10 points. The fact Ohio's offense doesn't rely on just one or two scorers HAVING to score 20 points for the team to be successful, is a good sign moving forward. The offense has an abundance of scoring weapons and on a night when one player goes cold, there will be plenty of others ready, and capable, of stepping up.
Bench production: The Ohio bench outscored Arkansas State's bench 29-0. That stat alone tells the story of a game Ohio had total control of. The ability to go to bench players and keep the score where its at--or even increase the lead--has to make coach Groce feel good. The stat may be a tad skewed because usual starter Nick Kellogg came off the bench Sunday because of tardiness to the opening shootaround (something Groce said after the game was not an issue and just one of those things), and dumped 13 points. Keely's production off the bench all season may land him a starting spot sooner rather than later.
Tenacity beats size: When Arkansas St. hit the floor Sunday it was hard not to marvel at the size of post-players Malcolm Kirkland and Brandon Peterson, both listed at 6'9". Compared to Ohio's starting interior of 6'7" Jon Smith and 6'8" (but more like 6'6") Ivo Baltic, the question was: would Ohio would have any chance of controlling the low block? They did, and then some. The Bobcats didn't have the size, but they out "efforted" the Red Wolves to the tune of a +6 rebounding edge for the game and out-rebounded the bigger Arkansas State team 13 to four on the offensive glass. Coach Groce lauded his team's effort and tenacity after the game. Sometimes size doesn't matter.
What's next: Ohio plays its toughest game on the 2011-12 schedule, Friday night at 7th ranked Louisville. The Bobcats haven't played a team of this caliber since a 98-41 drubbing at the hands of Kansas University last winter. Kellogg noted after Sunday's win, in regards to the Kansas game last year, there was too much "hero ball" played by individuals of the 'Cats team in their matchup with the Jayhawks. He said this years team has played as a more collective unit than they had in the early portion of last years schedule and its imperative they keep that togetherness against Louisville. For some encouragement entering a game the 'Cats seemingly have little chance to win, the Lamar Cardinals, a team Ohio beat last week, played Louisville very tough, trailing by only five points with five minutes to go, before eventually running out of gas in 68-48 loss.