Updated Sat, Mar 1, 2014 12:08 am
Ohio’s seniors have racked up some impressive individual accomplishments in their time in Athens. Nick Kellogg needs only four 3-pointers to pass D.J. Cooper and move into first for most career 3-pointers. Jon Smith has recorded the fourth most blocks in Bobcat history.
Truly, the legacy of this senior class is not one of individual accomplishments; it is one of winning. The class of 2014 needs only four more wins to become the winningest class in school history. To earn that title, though, Ohio has to win its three remaining regular season games and then one game in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Ohio looks to earn the first of those four wins Saturday when Kent State visits the Convo. The Bobcats defeated the Golden Flashes in their first meeting of the season, 59-53. Since then, the two teams’ seasons have taken different paths.
Ohio entered that game with a 10-3 record. Kent State entered it with a 9-4 record. Ohio is now 19-9 with a 9-6 conference record, and currently holds the fourth seed in the MAC Tournament. Kent State has not fared as well in conference play, dropping nine of its 15 MAC games.
Despite their recent struggles, the 15-13 Golden Flashes still present a challenge for Ohio. They have multiple players that are capable of putting up big numbers in Kris Brewer, Derek Jackson, Darren Goodson and Devareaux Manley. Each of those players average at least nine points a game with Brewer and Jackson averaging 12.2 and 11.1 points, respectively.
The last time the Bobcats and Golden Flashes squared off on the hardwood, Ohio allowed Kent State to grab 12 offensive rebounds. Rebounding has been a problem all season for head coach Jim Christian’s squad, especially recently, as it surrendered 14 offensive rebounds to Buffalo in its 69-64 loss Wednesday. The Bulls turned those 14 rebounds into 15 second chance points.
With Stevie Taylor playing limited minutes due to a leg injury and foul trouble, Javarez “Bean” Willis handled the majority of ball handling duties. The junior point guard struggled with Buffalo’s pressure and turned the ball over four times. The Bulls’ activity on defense rushed Willis and in turn, Ohio’s offense as a whole, preventing the Bobcats from finding a rhythm.
Ohio’s 14 turnovers resulted in 26 points for Buffalo. With talented guards like Brewer, Jackson and Manley, the Bobcats can’t afford to play loosely with the ball and make poor decisions as they did against Buffalo.
Ohio controls its own destiny when it comes to the fourth seed in the MAC Tournament. If it wins its last three games, it will have the fourth seed and the bye to the quarterfinals that comes with it. Ohio and its storied senior class look to win the first of those three games and sweep Kent State on Saturday.