Updated Tue, Jan 22, 2013 10:39 am
The Ohio Bobcats have started off Mid-American Conference play with four straight wins and have an opportunity to go 5-0 in the conference for the first time since the 1998-99 season.
They’ll have to change it up a bit, though, as the Bobcats are on the road for both games this week against Miami (OH) and Kent State. After starting the season 1-4 on the road, Ohio will be tested in tough environments in Oxford and Kent.
The Bobcats open the week at Miami, where the RedHawks have started their season 7-9 overall and 2-2 in the MAC.
Miami entered the season with several changes to their roster, including a new head coach at the helm. John Cooper enters his first season with the RedHawks after leading Tennessee State to a 20-13 record last season in the Ohio Valley Conference. Cooper’s signature win last season came against No. 7 Murray State, one of the Racers’ only two losses.
Cooper retains a team led by Allen Roberts, a 6-foot-3 guard who returned this season from a right knee injury. As a sophomore, he averaged 7.9 points and 2.5 rebounds a game. He has improved in several areas, raising his scoring average to 13.1 points per game.
Roberts teams up with Quinten Rollins to form a dynamic duo in the backcourt. Rollins is a 6-foot guard that leads the team with 4.4 assists a game. He has taken on more of the contributor this season, lowering his scoring average from 7.7 to 5.6 points per game.
Miami struggled against Northern Illinois, being outrebounded 27-20. As a team, the RedHawks are ranked 341st in the nation with 28.0 rebounds a game.
The leader down low is Will Felder, a 6-foot-7 forward who’s playing in his first season after transferring from St. Joseph’s. He has averaged 10.9 points and 4.8 rebounds this season and has scored in double-digits in their last seven games, including a 20-point outing against Bowling Green.
Freshman Reggie Johnson has also stepped up for Miami, averaging 9.3 points. The 6-foot-1 guard has played well for the RedHawks after coming from St. Joseph’s High School where Evan Turner and Isaiah Thomas once played.
Ohio’s tough road test continues as Jim Christian returns to the place where his coaching career began at Kent State. The Golden Flashes are coming off a tough 71-67 loss to their rival, Akron, weakening their record to 11-7 overall and 2-2 in the MAC.
Head coach Rob Senderoff – a former assistant under Christian – lost four starters from his 21-12 team to graduation including 6-foot-8 Justin Greene, who finished with 16 points and nine rebounds last year against the Bobcats.
Kent State did return starter Randal Holt, who scorched Ohio for 20 points last season in the Golden Flashes’ 68-61 victory. Holt has been playing equally strong this season, averaging 13.8 points and 2.2 assists. Against Buffalo, the 6-foot-1 senior accounted for 27 points and seven rebounds.
The Golden Flashes dominated against Buffalo, 80-68, thanks in large part to the play of Holt and Chris Evans. Evans, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward, dominated Buffalo down low for 25 points and 14 rebounds.
Evans has maintained that consistent play all season, killing opponents with his big frame for 17.2 points and 7.7 rebounds a game. Against MAC foes, he has improved his averages to 19.5 points and 8.0 rebounds. He’s also been doing it all on the defensive side, recording 2.0 steals a game in conference play. Evans also has the capability to knock down an outside shot, making an average of 1.3 threes on 36.5% shooting from beyond the arc.
Guard Kris Brewer is also a player that is capable of going off at any time. He has scored in double-digits on seven occasions this season, including a 14-point outing against Akron. He can hit the outside shot – 40.0% from deep – but only averages 1.9 three-point shot attempts a game.
As a team, the Golden Flashes average 35.1 rebounds a game and have shot 445 free throws this season. A physically gifted squad, especially with 6-foot-9 Mark Henniger (Second on the team with 4.1 rebounds per game), Kent State will challenge the Bobcats down low.
Ohio will travel to Oxford, Oh. on Wednesday night to take on the RedHawks. The Battle of the Bricks will tipoff at 7:00 p.m. in the John D. Millett Hall.
The Bobcats will continue their road trip Saturday against Kent State in the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center. This game will be tipping off at 6:00 p.m.