ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio men's basketball team (12-15, 5-10 MAC) takes aim at a third-straight win on Saturday (Feb. 24) when it visits Mid-American Conference frontrunner and East Division rival Buffalo (20-8, 12-3 MAC). The opening tip is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET at Alumni Arena in Amherst, N.Y.
Saturday's game will be streamed live on WatchESPN and the ESPN app, with Howard Simon and Will Regan on the call. The contest will also be broadcast on the Ohio IMG Sports Network, with 'Voice of the Bobcats' Russ Eisenstein and Rob Cornelius on the call. Radio pregame coverage is set to begin at 3 p.m. ET with 'Countdown To Tipoff.'
BALANCED ATTACK ALLOWS OHIO TO BEAT KENT STATE
Six players scored in double figures to help Ohio knock off MAC East Division rival Kent State, 88-76, on Tuesday (Feb. 20) at the Convocation Center.
After beating MAC East Division archrival Miami, 92-87, in overtime last Saturday (Feb. 17), the Bobcats strung together back-to-back victories for the first time in MAC play in 2018 courtesy of the win over the Golden Flashes. Ohio has posted wins in three of its last five contests after starting MAC play 2-8. The Bobcats have now topped Kent State in each of the Golden Flashes' last three trips to Athens. Ohio ended a three-game losing streak in the series with Kent State.
With the win, the Bobcats now occupy 11th place in the overall MAC standings with three games to play before league tournament action begins. At two games back of the No. 6 seed, Ohio is still mathematically in the hunt to host a first-round matchup at the Convo on March 5 and could still finish as high as fifth.
Ohio never trailed Kent State in Tuesday's triumph. The Bobcats shot 55.2 percent (32-of-58) from the field from the field and made 10 three-pointers. The Bobcats tallied their second-most assists in a MAC game this season with 19. By totaling 88 points, Ohio has now scored at least that amount in four of its last six games.
Once again, junior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) led the way for the Bobcats in a win, totaling a game-high 20 points thanks in large part to going 7-of-15 from the floor with five treys. He has now scored at least 20 points in a game a team-high seven times this season -- including in each of Ohio's last three victories. Dartis also compiled four assists to tie for the team lead as well as three rebounds and two steals in 33 minutes. Freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) continued his strong play in his rookie season, scoring 17 points off of 5-of-9 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. He has now finished in double figures in points a team-high 25 times this season -- including each of the last 19 contests. Kirk also tied for the team lead with four assists in addition to hauling in five boards in 32 minutes of action. Making his second-straight start, redshirt sophomore guard James Gollon (Stevens Point, Wis.) made 5-of-8 attempts from the floor -- including three triples -- to log 13 points. He finished in double figures for the fourth time in the last six games. Gollon also notched a team-high seven rebounds, three steals to tie his career high and an assist in 31 minutes. Graduate forward Kevin Mickle (Brooklyn, N.Y) recorded 13 points over 22 minutes of work off of the bench, going 5-of-6 from the field with a three and 2-for-2 from the charity stripe. He has finished in double figures in each of the last three games and 12 times this year. Mickle also collected six rebounds and an assist. Senior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) recorded 11 points to finish in double figures for the 19th time this season, which ranks second on the team. He also posted three assists, two rebounds and a steal in 28 minutes. Junior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) made five of his seven shots to finish with 10 points, marking the sixth time he has scored in double figures this year. He also added five rebounds over 21 minutes of action.
BOBCATS BEAT MIAMI IN OVERTIME
Dartis helped Ohio erase a four-point deficit in overtime and beat MAC Division archrival Miami, 92-87, last Saturday at the Convo.
Dartis finished 7-of-13 from the floor -- including three triples -- and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe to total a game-high 23 points, marking the sixth time this year he has scored at least 20 points in a game. He also tallied six rebounds, two assists and two steals over 37 minutes of action. Freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) went 6-of-15 from the field and made all five of his free throws to compile 18 points. He also logged seven rebounds, a team-high five assists and a steal over 44 minutes. Junior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) scored 16 points in 29 minutes of work off of the bench and also totaled five rebounds, three assists, a game-high three blocks to set a career high and two steals to tie for the team lead. Mickle scored 12 points in 25 minutes off of the bench. He also added four boards and an assist. Taylor nearly achieved a double-double, totaling 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds. He also blocked two shots and collected a steal in 23 minutes.
Ohio has now won 13 of the last 14 meetings against the RedHawks -- including each of the last six contests.
Ohio scored at least 90 points for the sixth time this season with its 92-point output in the victory over the RedHawks. The Bobcats improved to 4-2 when they score at least 90 points in 2017-18. Ohio is 14-2 when scoring at least 90 points under fourth-year head coach Saul Phillips.
WE'RE GONNA TAKE IT INTO OVERTIME
Ohio played an overtime game for the fourth time in 2017-18 when the 'Battle of the Bricks' took an extra five minutes to decide a winner on Saturday. The Bobcats improved to 2-2 in overtime games this year with the win over the RedHawks. Ohio's four overtime games this marks the most the Bobcats have played in a single season since the 2010-11 squad play five.
Ohio is one of the top three-point teams in the MAC on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. The Bobcats rank second among MAC teams with 37.0 percent three-point field goal percentage, which ranks 87th in the country. Ohio also owns a 32.9 percent opponent three-point field goal percentage, which is tops among MAC teams and ranks 74th in the nation.
OHIO IN MAC PLAY
Ohio ranks third with a 38.4 percent (116-of-302) success rate from beyond the arc in league games.
On the defensive end of the floor, Ohio ranks second among MAC teams in league play with 4.4 blocks per contest.
Through 15 MAC games, Kirk leads Ohio with 16.4 points per contest, which is eighth in the conference and is tops among the MAC's freshmen. He is averaging 1.6 steals per game in MAC play, which is sixth in the conference. Dartis is averaging 13.2 points per game in MAC play while Dartis is right behind him, averaging 12.5 per contest. Taylor leads all MAC players in conference play with 2.7 blocks per game.
BOBCATS' COMEBACK BID FALLS SHORT AT TOLEDO
Despite a career-high 24 points off of the bench by Mickle and a third double-double from Kirk, Ohio was unable to overcome a slow start in an 82-74 loss to MAC West Division foe Toledo on Feb. 13 at Savage Arena.
The Rockets raced out to a 15-0 lead over the first five minutes of play, and the Bobcats never quite recovered despite outscoring Toledo by a 74-67 count the rest of the way.
The Bobcats lost despite leading the way in rebounds (37-33), points in the paint (36-22) and bench points (39-20). Toledo took advantage of 37 attempts at the free throw line, making 32 foul shots for an 86.5 percent success rate. The Rockets went 28-of-33 from the charity stripe in the second half, allowing Toledo to seal the victory despite shooting just 29.2 percent (7-of-24) from the floor over the final 20 minutes.
Mickle provided Ohio with a lift with his performance off of the bench, going 10-of-19 from the floor with a three-pointer and 3-of-4 from the free throw line. The contest marked his first career game with at least 20 points. Mickle also finished with six rebounds, two blocks and an assist in 24 minutes. Kirk finished with 21 points and a game-high 10 boards to achieve another double-double. He shot 7-of-11 from both the field and the free throw line, shaking off a tough first half in which he went 1-of-3 for two points with a second half in which he went 6-of-8 for 19 points. He posted his fifth outing with at least 20 points this year. Kirk also totaled an assist, a block and a steal over 26 minutes of work. Gollon joined Mickle in helping the Bobcats account for 39 bench points, scoring 11 points off of 3-of-6 shooting from the floor -- including a pair of treys -- and 3-of-3 shooting from the charity stripe. He also added five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 27 minutes. Taylor -- the MAC's leading shot blocker in 2017-18 -- added to his total with four blocks -- including three in the second half. He has now blocked at least three shots in a game 10 times this season. Taylor also chipped in two points and four rebounds in 17 minutes of action.
DARTIS, OHIO SCORCH AKRON
Dartis exploded for a career-high 38 points behind 10 three-pointers to help Ohio dominate MAC East Division rival Akron, 99-75, on Feb. 6 at the Convocation Center.
The Bobcats evened the regular season series with the Zips, avenging a 71-68 loss at Akron on Jan. 23. Ohio's 24-point triumph on Tuesday marked the Bobcats' largest margin of victory over the Zips since another 24-point win, 85-61, on Feb. 26, 2012, at the Convo.
The victory represented Ohio's best offensive output of the 2017-18 campaign as the Bobcats racked up a season-high 99 points. Ohio shot 54.2 percent (32-of-59) from the field -- including a season-best 59.3 percent (16-of-27) from three-point range. The Bobcats' 16 treys tied for the fifth-most in a game in program history. Ohio last drained 16 triples on Feb. 7, 2017, against Central Michigan. The Bobcats also took advantage of their opportunities at the free throw line, going 19-of-23 (82.6 percent) from the charity stripe.
After sitting out Ohio's 101-98 double overtime loss to MAC West Division foe Central Michigan on (Feb. 3 with a nagging hip injury, Dartis announced his return to the starting lineup in a big way. His 38-point effort marked the most by a Bobcat since former Ohio guard Jaaron Simmons dropped 38 on the Zips on Feb. 4, 2017, in a 85-70 triumph at the Convo. Dartis scored at least 30 points for the first time in his career and became the second Bobcat to reach the 30-point mark this season, joining Laster, who posted a career-high 31 in a 78-68 win over Northern Illinois on Jan. 6, 2018, at the Convo. Dartis went 13-of-20 from the field -- including a scorching 10-of-15 from beyond the arc. His 10 made treys marked the most by a Bobcat since former Ohio guard Javarez Willis drilled 10 in a 95-65 victory over archrival Miami on March 6, 2015. Dartis is now tied with Willis for the third-most three-pointers made in a game in program history. Dartis also finished Tuesday's game with five rebounds, three assists and a steal in 32 minutes of action.
Dartis was one of five Bobcats to finish in double figures in the win over the Zips. Block went 4-of-4 from the field with a three-pointer and made five of his seven free throw attempts to tally 14 points. He also grabbed five rebounds, dished out a game-high four assists and blocked a shot in 32 minutes of work. Kirk shot 5-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the free throw line en route to 13 points. He also tallied a team-high seven rebounds and chipped in three assists and two steals in 28 minutes. Gollon provided 13 points off of the bench, knocking down three three-pointers and making all four of his free throws. He also notched three rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block over 22 minutes. Laster went 3-of-4 from the field with a three and 3-of-4 from the charity stripe en route to 10 points. He also recorded a rebound and an assist in 24 minutes. Taylor blocked a game-high five shots and also posted three rebounds and an assist in 20 minutes of work.
DARTIS NAMED MAC EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Dartis was named MAC East Division Player of the Week, as announced by the league office on Feb. 12.
Dartis earned weekly conference honors for the first time in his career and became the first Bobcat to be named MAC East Division Player of the Week in 2017-18.
Dartis averaged a team-high 22.5 points, shooting 52.9 percent (18-of-34) from the field -- including 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from beyond the arc. He also averaged 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals.
In addition to his career performance in the win over Akron, Dartis finished with 13 points after going 5-of-14 from the floor with three treys as Ohio suffered a 69-60 loss to MAC West Division foe Western Michigan on Feb. 10 at University Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich. Dartis eclipsed the 1,000-career point mark in the loss, becoming the 39th Bobcat to reach that milestone. He also logged five rebounds, two steals and an assist over 30 minutes.
DARTIS' HOT HAND HELPS OHIO EARN WIN AT EMU
Dartis drained seven-three pointers en route to a game-high 24 points to help power Ohio to a 72-66 triumph over MAC East Division foe Eastern Michigan on Jan. 20 at the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich. The Bobcats' victory marked Ohio's first true road win of the 2017-18 campaign. Ohio picked up a win in Ypsilanti for the second year in a row.
Ohio overcame a 31-24 halftime deficit by outscoring the Eagles by a 48-35 count over the final 20 minutes of play. The Bobcats won for the third time in 2017-18 after trailing at the half. Ohio shot 63 percent (17-of-27) -- including 66.7 percent (8-of-12) from beyond the arc -- in the second half after converting at just a 30 percent (6-of-20) clip from the floor in the first half.
Dartis went 8-of-12 from the field -- including 7-of-10 from three-point range. He piled up 21 points in the second half, draining six treys. He recorded his fourth 20-point outing of the season and 10th of his Ohio career. Dartis also finished the contest with two rebounds, two assists and two steals in 33 minutes.
Laster scored 16 points, shooting 6-of-12 from the field with a pair of triples. He also added three rebounds and a block over 32 minutes. Kirk finished with 12 points thanks in large part to an 8-of-8 effort from the free throw line. He also dished out three assists, hauled in three boards and matched his career high with four steals in 30 minutes. Taylor went 4-of-4 from the floor to total eight points. He also grabbed two rebounds, blocked a game-high three shots and had an assist in 20 minutes. Block notched six points, five rebounds, a game-high eight assists and a steal over 38 minutes. Mickle scored four points, posted a team-high seven rebounds and also logged two assists and a steal in 19 minutes of work off of the bench.
LASTER POWERS OHIO TO FIRST MAC WIN OF 2018
Laster scored a career-high 31 points to lead all scorers on 10-of-12 shooting with a career-high five three-pointers and went 6-of-7 from the free throw line as Ohio earned its first MAC victory of the 2018 season with a 78-68 triumph over Northern Illinois on Jan. 6 at the Convocation Center.
Laster became the first Bobcat to score at least 30 points in a game this season.
Taylor blocked a career-high six shots in addition to recording two points, six rebounds and a steal in 17 minutes. He became the first Bobcat to block at least five shots in a game since former forward Antonio Campbell did so in a 79-62 win over Northern Illinois in the 2016 MAC Tournament Quarterfinals on March 10, 2016, in Cleveland.
OHIO FINISHES NON-CONFERENCE PLAY WITH SEVEN WINS
The Bobcats tallied seven victories in 12 tries over the first two months of the 2017-18 campaign.
Ohio opened the year with a 61-53 triumph over Alabama A&M on Nov. 11 at the Convocation Center, marking the first of six wins at the Roundhouse On Richland in non-conference action. The Bobcats' biggest win of the non-conference slate came on Dec. 10, with Ohio posting an 89-84 victory over Western Kentucky, which had received votes in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll the previous week.
The Bobcats went 1-2 at the 2017 Gildan Charleston Classic, placing seventh in the tournament that was held Nov. 16-19 at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C.
After falling to Clemson, 81-76, on Nov. 16 and in-state rival Dayton, 79-65, the following day, Ohio clawed back from an 18-point deficit and outlasted Indiana State in quadruple overtime, 96-94, on Nov. 19 in the seventh-place game.
The win over Indiana State saw the Bobcats play their first four-overtime contest since Dec. 18, 2010, and prevail in quadruple overtime for the first time since a 112-104 win over MAC rival Akron on Jan. 8, 2003. Ohio's rally from 18 down in the victory represented the program's largest comeback win of Phillips' Ohio coaching tenure. Per the college basketball analytics website KenPom.com, Ohio had a 0.3 percent chance of defeating Indiana State when the Bobcats trailed the Sycamores by a 77-68 count with 48 seconds remaining in the second overtime. Ohio refused to give in, though, and went on a 13-4 run in the final 40 seconds.
Ohio entered MAC play still in search of its first true road win. The Bobcats suffered an 87-62 setback to Big Ten Conference foe Maryland on Dec. 7 in College Park, Md., then fell to longtime rival Marshall in an overtime heartbreaker, 99-96, on Dec. 16 in Huntington, W. Va.
THE INJURY BUG
Ohio has been dealing with adversity on the injury front all through the early portion of the 2017-18 season.
Sophomore forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio) -- a 2017-18 Preseason All-MAC East Division Team selection and 2017 All-MAC Freshman Team pick -- has missed 24 games this year with a lower leg injury. The Bobcats have been depleted in the frontcourt as freshman forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) works his way back from a lower leg injury and has yet to appear in a game this season. After missing the first 12 games of the 2017-18 campaign with an upper arm injury, freshman forward A.J. Gareri (Akron, Ohio) made his career debut at Central Michigan, scoring two points off of two made free throws. Mickle missed two games due to a lower leg injury.
The Bobcats have also found themselves without their starting guards at different points, with Laster and Dartis each missing a game due to injuries.
Ohio found itself without the services of Dartis (hip injury) and Mickle (knee) again in the double overtime loss to Central Michigan but both returned to action for the win over Akron.
Laster is looking to make his final season as a Bobcat his best yet, and he's off to a good start. He is averaging a career-high 13.9 points per game to rank second on the team and is shooting 47.2 percent (137-of-290) from the field to rank third on the squad. He is shooting 38.7 percent (46-of-119) from beyond the arc, which ranks fourth on the team.
Laster turned in his fourth game of the 2017-18 season with at least 20 points in the win over Western Kentucky. He led Ohio with a 23-point effort, going 8-of-11 from the field -- including 2-of-3 from three-point range -- en route to finishing in double figures for the sixth game in a row.
Between Nov. 19-28, Laster tallied three-straight games with at least 20 points, making him the first Bobcat to achieve such a feat since 2015-16. The stretch included a 25-point effort in the quadruple overtime win over Indiana State in the Gildan Charleston Classic.
Over his last 44 games, Laster is averaging 11.3 points per game and is shooting 49.6 percent (191-of-385) from the field.
ROOKIE PLAYING LIKE A VET
Kirk has impressed through his first 26 games as a Bobcat. Starting at point guard in every contest, he is averaging 15.5 points per game to lead the team and rank 11th among MAC players and is shooting 45.1 percent (142-of-315) from the field to rank fifth on the team -- including 43.3 percent (13-of-30) from beyond the arc. Kirk is looking to become the first Ohio freshman to average double figures in points since guard D.J. Cooper averaged 13.5 per contest in his rookie campaign of 2009-10.
Kirk also leads the team with 1.4 steals per game, which ties him for sixth in the MAC, and ranks second on the squad in both rebounds per game (6.0) and assists per game (3.0).
Kirk achieved his first career double-double with 14 points and a game-high 14 rebounds to set a new career high in Ohio's 65-58 win over Northwestern Ohio on Dec. 29 at the Convo to close out the non-conference portion of the 2017-18 schedule.
Ohio beat Alabama A&M in the season opener on Nov. 11 at theConvo behind a game-high 16 points from Kirk in his debut for the Bobcats. At the 2017 Gildan Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C., Kirk notched 10 points, a game-high six assists, four rebounds and a steal in 28 minutes against Clemson (Nov. 16), then logged 12 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal over 27 minutes against Dayton (Nov. 17) in the Charleston Classic. He saved his best for last in Charleston with a 20-point effort that saw him score a combined 12 points over the final three overtimes to help the Bobcats clinch the win in quadruple overtime over Indiana State.
Kirk continued the strong start to his freshman campaign in a 96-77 win over Mount St. Mary's on Nov. 24 at the Convo, tallying a career-high 20 points for the second game in a row to tie for the team lead. He shot 7-of-14 from the floor -- including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc -- in addition to sinking four his five free throw attempts.
For his two-plus year Ohio career, Dartis averages 11.9 points per game and is a 45.1 percent shooter -- including owning a 44.3 percent success rate from beyond the arc, which is tied for the best three-point field goal percentage in program history with Tommy Freeman, who played for the Bobcats from 2008-11 and now serves as a graduate assistant on the Ohio coaching staff. He is one of eight players in program history to sink at least 200 career three-pointers with 222, which ranks as the fifth-most in the history of the program. Dartis has finished in double figures 53 times in his Ohio career, which is the most among active Bobcats, and has tallied at least 20 points in a game 13 times in his career, which also ranks as the most among active Ohio players. His 1,051 career points rank as the 34th-most in program history.
Dartis is averaging 13.6 points per game to rank third on the squad in 2017-18 and has finished with double-digit points 14 times this season to rank third on the team. He scored a then-career-high 27 points, thanks in large part to matching his career high with seven made threes at Marshall. He then recorded his second-straight outing with at least 20 points, tallying a team-high 23 off a 6-of-13 shooting effort from the field that included three treys in addition to sinking eight of his nine free throw attempts in an 84-65 win over Prairie View A&M on Dec. 20 at the Convo.
A 2017-18 Preseason All-MAC East Division Team pick, Dartis is coming off of a 2016-17 sophomore campaign in which he garnered Second Team All-MAC honors. He started a career-high 31 games, tallying a career-high 390 points (12.6 per game) to rank second on the team, a career-high 113 rebounds (3.6 per game) to rank fifth on the team, a career-high 56 assists (1.8 per game) to rank third on the team, a career-high 39 steals (1.3 per game) to lead the team and a career-high six blocks (0.2 per game) over a career-high 1,082 minutes (34.9 per game) to rank second on the team. Dartis shot 44.0 percent (118-of-268) from the field -- including a team-best 44.1 percent (86-of-195) from three-point range, which ranks as the seventh-best three-point field goal percentage in a single season in program history and ranked as the best in the conference and 11th in the nation. He also posted a team-best 88.3 percent (68-of-77) free throw percentage. Dartis finished in double figures in points a career-high 23 times to rank second on the team -- including recording 20 or more points a career-high four times -- and led the team in scoring a career-high four times and in assists a career-high two times.
Mickle has proven to be a valuable addition to the Ohio rotation since joining the program upon earning his bachelor's degree in communications from Florida Gulf Coast after playing for the Eagles for two seasons.
Mickle currently ranks fourth on the team with 9.2 points per game and is shooting 49.7 percent (91-of-183) from the floor to rank second on the squad. He scored 17 points in his first career start as a Bobcat in the win over Western Kentucky, then posted a 19-point effort in the loss at Marshall.
Mickle has reached double figures in points 12 times in 23 games played for Ohio in 2017-18. In 63 games at Florida Gulf Coast, he reached double digits just three times.
After finishing a rebound short of a double-double with 12 points and nine boards to go along with a game-high five assists in 35 minutes in the win over Alabama A&M in the season opener, Block averaged 15.0 points and 2.7 assists to rank second on the team and 7.7 rebounds to lead the team over three games at the Charleston Classic. He scored a career-high 22 points to lead all scorers and achieved his first career double-double with a career-high 10 rebounds to lead the team in addition to logging an assist and a steal in 34 minutes of work against Clemson. He then just missed out on a second-straight double-double with 14 points and a team-high nine boards in addition to distributing a team-high four assists in 34 minutes of work against Dayton.
Through 27 games this season, Block ranks fifth on the squad with 9.3 points per game and leads the team with 3.4 assists per game, which ranks 10th in the MAC. His 4.3 rebounds per game are good for third on the squad.
Taylor is averaging a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game, which ranks 10th among MAC players. He has tallied double-digit boards a team-high seven times -- including pulling down a career-high 15 in the quadruple overtime win over Indiana State in the Gildan Charleston Classic.
Taylor is also averaging a team-high 2.0 blocks per game, which is tops among MAC players and ranks 43rd in the country. He is one block away from tying Maurice Ndour (55; 2013-14) for the 10th-most in a single season in program history. His 54 blocks this year rank 49th in the nation.
Taylor's 53.4 percent (71-of-133) field goal percentage is best on the team.
Taylor achieved his first career double-double with a career-high 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds in the win over Mount St. Mary's. He went 6-of-10 from the field and sank his first three-pointer of the season. He also had a pair of steals in 26 minutes.
Taylor was the lone bright spot for Ohio in its 91-57 loss to MAC West Division foe Toledo on Jan. 16 at the Convo. He provided the Bobcats with a career-high 15 points, shooting 6-of-9 from the field. He also added five blocks, five rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes of play.
YEAR FOUR OF PHILLIPS ERA
Ohio enters its fourth season under the direction of Phillips in 2017-18. Phillips has led the Bobcats to 65 wins over the past three-plus seasons. He coached his 100th game on the Ohio bench in the quadruple overtime triumph over Indiana State in the Charleston Classic.
Phillips is now one victory away from reaching the 200-career win mark.
ROAD TO CLEVELAND
The 2018 MAC Basketball Tournament will once again be held at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. This year's tournament will begin on March 5 with first round games on campus before moving to Cleveland (March 8-10). The tournament semifinal games will once again air on CBS Sports Network, while the title game will be played on Saturday, March 10 on ESPN2. Ohio will be looking to earn in its seventh MAC tournament crown in program history and first since 2012.
The winner of the 2018 MAC Basketball Tournament will earn the league's automatic bid to the 2018 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship field. Selection Sunday is March 11, 2018. The First Four games will be played March 13-14 in Dayton, Ohio. First and Second Round action will take place March 15-18 in Pittsburgh, Wichita, Dallas, Boise, Charlotte, Detroit, Nashville and San Diego. The West and South Regionals will be held March 22 and 24 in Los Angeles and Atlanta, respectively, while the Midwest and East Regionals will take place March 23 and 25 in Omaha and Boston, respectively. The 2018 NCAA Final Four is slated for March 31 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The national title game is scheduled for April 2. CBS Sports and Turner Sports will televise the 2018 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.
SCOUTING THE BULLS
With a 12-3 league record, Buffalo is the top team in the MAC standings with three regular season games left to play. The Bulls started conference play 8-0 but have lost three of their last seven MAC games -- including an 84-81 loss to East Division rival Miami in Oxford, Ohio, on Tuesday.
Nate Oats is in his third year as the head coach at Buffalo. His squad averages a league-high 84.0 points per game, which ranks 19th in the country. Buffalo is the third-best three-point shooting team in the conference, hitting treys at a 36.9 percent success rate.
The Bulls, who went 17-17 in 2016-17 with an 11-7 conference mark, were picked to win the MAC East Division in the league's 2017-18 preseason poll with 166 points and a conference high 24 first-place votes. Buffalo finished second in the league poll with nine votes to win the conference tournament.
Buffalo boasts two players who rank in the top six in the MAC in scoring in junior guard CJ Massinburg (17.1 points per game; fifth) and junior forward Nick Perkins (16.6; sixth). Both players earned spots on the 2017-18 Preseason All-MAC East Division Team. In conference play, Perkins is averaging 18.3 points per game to rank fourth in the league while Massinburg averages 14.9 points per game. Massinburg also ranks seventh in the conference with a team-high 7.6 rebounds per game. Also averaging double figures in points for the Bulls are senior guard Wes Clark (15.1 per game) and junior guard Jeremy Harris (15.1). Harris is averaging 18.1 points per game in MAC play, which ranks fifth in the league.
Saturday's game marks the 46th all-time meeting between Ohio and Buffalo, with the Bobcats lead the series with the Bulls, 32-13 (.711). Ohio is 4-4 against Buffalo under Phillips.
In the first meeting of the season between the two teams, Buffalo earned a 73-66 triumph over the Bobcats on Jan. 26 at the Convo. Ohio outscored the Bulls in the second half but could not overcome a 33.8 percent (22-of-65) shooting performance for the game that saw the Bobcats make just 7-of-27 shots in the opening 20 minutes of play. Buffalo shot 42.2 percent (27-of-64) in the victory and outrebounded Ohio by a 51-38 count. The Bulls turned 15 offensive boards into 19 second-chance points. Kirk provided Ohio with a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds, with 15 of his points coming in the second half. He shot 7-of-16 from the field with a pair of treys. He also added three assists and a steal in 35 minutes. Laster contributed 11 points, one rebound and an assist over 31 minutes. Mickle finished with 11 points, three rebounds, an assist and a block in 24 minutes of work off of the bench. Dartis went a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line en route to 11 points. He also logged four rebounds, an assist a block and steal in 33 minutes. Perkins led Buffalo with a 20-point performance off of the bench to pace all scorers. He went 8-of-11 from the field. Perkins alos logged seven rebounds in 27 minutes of action. Harris made 7-of-15 shots with a pair of triples to finish with 17 points and achieved a double-double with 10 rebounds. He also contributed two assists, two steals and a block in 36 minutes. Massinburg posted 11 points and eight boards in 33 minutes. Junior forward Ikenna Smart also achieved a double-double for the Bulls with 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. He also compiled an assist and a block in 23 minutes.
The Bobcats and the Bulls split the season series in 2017, with each team winning on the other's home court. Ohio pulled out a 74-72 win over Buffalo in Amherst, N.Y., on Jan. 10, but the Bulls answered with an 83-79 victory over the Bobcats on Feb. 28 at the Convo.
Ohio plays host to a Senior Day showdown against MAC East Division rival Bowling Green next Tuesday (Feb. 27) in the final regular season game of the 2017-18 campaign at the Convo. The opening tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. The game will be streamed live on WatchESPN and the ESPN app. The Bobcats will honor the careers of Laster, Mickle, guard Antonio Bisutti (Dublin, Ohio) and forward Sam Frayer (Cincinnati, Ohio) prior to the contest.