Updated Sat, Mar 16, 2013 9:46 pm
No. 2 Ohio
Reggie Keely: 14 points, 6-9 field goals
Walter Offutt: 7 points, 4 rebounds
No. 1 Akron
Zeke Marshall: 8 points, 3-4 field goals
Demetrius Treadwell: 4 points, 6 rebounds
Battle of the Bigs:
Ohio's Reggie Keely and Zeke Marshall staged an early competition to see who could give his team the biggest lift. The Zips' seven-footer scored his team's first five points, but Keely upstaged him with 10 of his team's first 12 on 5-for-5 from the floor. Christian subbed his big man out for Jon Smith after six hard-fought minutes, and Smith picked up right where Keely left off with a basket on Ohio's next possission to give Ohio a 14-8 lead.
The Pressure's On:
Ohio's famous in-your-face defense showed up from the opening tip, as the Bobcats held Akron to just 3-of-11 shooting and forced five turnovers in the game's first eight minutes. Meanwhile, Ohio connected on its first eight 2-point field goal attempts. Ohio jumped ahead 16-8 on an early 8-0 run made up by string of four layups from the 15:57 mark to 12:27.
D.J. Cooper came into tonight's game averaging 23.0 points per game in MAC title matchups. He was held scoreless in a quiet first half with only one shot attempt and a solid, yet unspectacular three assists to three turnovers. Keith Dambrot has not been shy about sticking long defenders on Cooper to bother him this season, and that trend continued in the first half, as Marshall and backup center Pat Forsythe often found themselves guarding Cooper after switching on ball screens.
Akron "Zips" Back into It:
Down 25-16 with just more than seven minutes to go in the half, Akron put together a 10-2 run to pull within 1 over the next six minutes. Five different Zips scored during the run as Akron gained some momentum before the break. The Bobcats saved face with the last bucket of the half, though, as T.J. Hall's layup danced around the rim before falling at the buzzer.
What to Watch For:
Smith was of no use to Jim Christian for the final five minutes of the first half thanks to three fouls in three possessions from 5:44 to 5:09. With Ohio's best post defender in foul trouble, Akron may have a little more freedom to work down low in the second half.