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Ohio Men’s Basketball Opens MAC Play Against NIU on Saturday

Ohio Men’s Basketball Opens MAC Play Against NIU on Saturday

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OHIO MEN'S BASKETBALL 2018-19 • GAME 13
Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019
2 p.m. | Ohio (8-4) vs. Northern Illinois (7-6) | Convocation Center | Athens, Ohio | Live Stats | Watch ESPNListen | Ohio Notes | NIU Notes

ATHENS, Ohio --The Ohio men's basketball team (8-4, 0-0 MAC) opens Mid-American Conference play on Saturday, Jan. 5 when the Bobcats host MAC West foe Northern Illinois (7-6, 0-0 MAC). Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. inside the Convocation Center

Saturday's contest will be broadcast on the Watch ESPN App with Russ Eisenstein and Toni Roesch on the call. The game will also be on the Ohio IMG Sports Network, with Marty Bannister and Rob Cornelius on the call. Radio pregame coverage is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET with 'Countdown To Tipoff.'

SCOUTING NORTHERN ILLINOIS
NIU enters the contest with the Bobcats with an overall record of 7-6. 

As a team, NIU is averaging 79.9 points per game and is shooting 50.5 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from three-point range and 68.2 percent from the free throw line. The Huskies are averaging 36.0 rebounds per game to go along with 14.0 assists, 4.8 steals and 1.8 blocks per contest. The Huskies also average 12.4 turnovers per game, while they force opponents to cough the ball up 12.5 times per game. 

Meanwhile, opponents are averaging 73.4 points per game and shot shooting 44.4 percent from the field, 38.3 percent from three-point range and 66.8 percent from the free throw line. Opponents also average 31.2 rebounds, 16.0 assists, 5.4 steals and 2.3 blocks per game. 

Individually, Eugene German is leading the Huskies with 20.9 points per game and is shooting 50.3 percent from the field, 44.2 percent from three-point range and 71.1 percent from the free throw line. Levi Bradley is averaging 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds a game and is shooting 55.5 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three-point range. Meanwhile, Dante Thorpe is adding 11.6 points per game and a team-high 33 assists. Lacey James averages a team-leading 7.2 rebounds per game, while also recording a team-high 55.6 percent field goal percentage. 

IN NIU'S LAST GAME
NIU last saw the floor on Dec. 29 when the Huskies fell to No. 8/9 Eastern Michigan, 88-60 inside the Breslin Center. The Spartans held the Huskies, who came into the contest ranked third in the nation in field goal percentage, to just 33.3 percent (25-of-75) shooting while the Spartans shot 50.9 percent (29-of-57) in the contest. 

Eugene German scored a team-high 20 points, Levi Bradley finished with 13 points and Lacey James just missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.

SERIES HISTORY
This is the 54th all-time meeting between Ohio and NIU, with the Bobcats leading the series, 35-18. Ohio has won the last four-straight meetings and 10 out of the last 12. 

LAST TIME AGAINST NIU
The Bobcats and Huskies met last season on Jan. 6 in the MAC openers, with Ohio coming away with the 78-68 victory. 

In that game, Mike 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. 

Teyvion Kirk went 4-of-7 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the charity stripe en route to 16 points. He has now reached double digits in scoring a team-high 12 times this season. Kirk tied for the team lead with six rebounds and also chipped in two assists and a steal in 30 minutes. Gavin Block produced nine points thanks in large part to a 4-of-5 effort from the free throw line and also distributed three assists, grabbed two rebounds and tallied a steal in 35 minutes. Kevin Mickle went 4-of-6 from the field to finish with eight points off of the bench. He also logged a career-high four assists and hauled in three boards in 21 minutes. Doug Taylor blocked a career-high six shots in addition to recording two points, six rebounds and a steal in 17 minutes.

As a team, Ohio shot 56.5 percent (26-of-46) from the field -- including 45 percent (9-of-20) from deep -- and 77.3 percent (17-of-22) from the free throw line.

LAST TIME OUT FOR OHIO
The Bobcats are coming off of a 68-66 victory over FIU in the final nonconference game of the season on Dec. 30. The game saw Jason Carter hit a layup with 2.6 seconds to go to lead Ohio to victory. 

Carter (Johnstown, Ohio) led all scorers with 19 points, going 8-of-11 from the field and 3-of-5 from the free throw line. Carter also grabbed nine boards and dished out three assists. Sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) added 18 points, going 8-of-22 from the field, while also grabbing nine rebounds. Senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double, while also registering two blocks. Freshman guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) also scored in double figures, recording 11 points and dishing out three assists. 

Overall, the Bobcats shot 50.9 percent from the field, 16.7 percent from three-point range and 61.5 percent from the free throw line, while FIU shot 36.7 percent from the field, 31.6 percent from three-point range and 60.0 percent from the free throw line. The Bobcats outrebounded the Panthers 44-27, while dishing out 14 assists and three blocks to FIU's 13 assists and one block. The Bobcats would score 52 points in the paint and score 19 points off of 15 FIU turnover, while the Panthers scored 36 points in the paint and scored 24 points off of 23 Ohio miscues. 

For FIU, the Panthers were led by Brian Beard, Jr. who scored 13 points, going 5-of-3 from the field, and dishing out six assists. Marcus Burwell added nine points, going 3-of-7 from three-point range, and Willy Nunez, Jr. and Michael Douglas would both add eight points for FIU. 

SCOUTING OHIO
The Bobcats enter the matchup with Northern Illinois with an overall record of 8-4. 

12 games into the season, Ohio is averaging 74.3 points per game. They are shooting 45.0 percent from the field, 28.9 percent from three-point range and 67.1 from the free throw line. The Bobcats are also averaging 40.8 rebounds a contest to go along with 15.1 assists, 7.4 steals and 3.9 blocks per game. 

Individually, Jason Carter is averaging 18.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He is shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 74.0 percent from the free throw line. Meanwhile, Teyvion Kirk is adding 15.9 points per game 6.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. 

Vander Plas is averaging 10.8 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 45.8 from the field and 36.9 percent from beyond the arc. 

Doug Taylor is leading the Bobcats with 8.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, while Gavin Block is now shooting a 38.0 percent from beyond the arc. 

CARTER'S RETURN ALREADY FELT
At the conclusion of nonconference play, it is evident that return of Jason Carter has been felt. The redshirt sophomore, who missed all but three games in 2017-18, has been a force for the Bobcats. 

Carter has led the Bobcats in scoring in 10 of Ohio's 12 games, recording a double-double against Wilberforce, and scoring 24 points against Campbell. 

Carter also added a double-double against Austin Peay on Nov. 24, while trying a career-high with 25 points in that matchups and did the same thing on Dec. 1 against Marshall. 

So far this season, Carter is averaging 18.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He is shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 74.0 percent from the free throw line. 

Carter was also named the MAC East Co-Player of the Week on Dec. 3. 

Carter's presence inside has also been huge, most notably on Dec. 30 when Carter grabbed an offensive board with just under 10 seconds to go and connected on the go-ahead basket in Ohio's 68-66 victory over FIU. 

BIG BEN ALERT
Ben Vander Plas' addition to the lineup as also been notability. The redshirt freshman, who missed all of last season due to injury, has been the Bobcats' biggest source off the bench, scoring 16 against Wilberforce, 15 against Campbell and 10 points against LMU. 

Right now, Vander Plas' biggest impact came on Nov. 27 against Iona, where he scored a career-high 18 points and 11 rebounds to register his first career double-double. 

Vander Plas would go on to tie his career-high of 18 points on Dec. 1 against Marshall. 

On Dec. 20 at Purdue, Vander Plas led the Bobcats with 15 points and tying a career-high with four made three-pointers. 

Vander Plas is averaging 10.8 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting .458 from the field and .369 from three-point range.

TK GOING FOR ROUND TWO
Sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk has picked up where he left off last season. 

Currently, Kirk is second on the team with 15.9 points per game. He also added 6.3 rebounds, while shooting 44.4 percent from the field. He has also recorded 36 total assists and 21 steals for the Bobcats.  

On Dec. 15 at Detroit Mercy, Kirk drained the game-winning three-pointer with under a minute to go to lead Ohio to a 63-61 victory. 

BLOCK PARTY
Doug Taylor, who currently registers 114 blocks in his career, which moves him into ninth all-time for career blocks. 

Taylor needs six more blocks to move into eighth place, which is currently held by Antonio Campbell. 

OHIO IN THE MAC -TEAM
In the Mid-American Conference, the Bobcats currently rank third in rebounding offense (40.8), second in rebounding margin (+8.1), sixth in offensive rebounds (12.2), fourth in defensive rebounds (28.6) and second in defensive rebounding percentage (.780). 

Ohio is also third in steals (7.4) and fifth in blocked shots (3.9) and in assists (14.8). 

OHIO IN THE MAC -INDIVIDUAL 
Individually, Carter is currently fifth in the MAC in scoring (18.0), while Taylor is fourth in rebounding (8.8) and sixth in field goal percentage (.586).

Kirk is fourth in steals (1.8), while Taylor is first in blocked shots (1.9) and fourth in offensive rebounds (3.3). Taylor sits seventh in defensive rebounds (5.4), while Kirk is seventh in minutes played (31.6).

MAC EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Jason Carter was named the MAC East Co-Player of the Week on Dec. 3 for his performance the week of Nov. 26. 

CHARGEEEEEEEEEE
On Dec. 30 against FIU, senior forward/guard Gavin Block drew five charge calls in the Bobcats 68-66 victory over the Panthers. Overall in the game, Block drew six total fouls. 

REBOUNDING MACHINES
One of the Bobcats' strengths during non conference play has been their rebounding. Currently the Bobcats average 40.8 rebounds per game and have a +8.1 rebounding margin. 

Ohio has won the rebounding battle in eight out of 12 games this season, with a season-high 56 against Wilberforce in the season opener. 

Nationally, the Bobcats rank 41st in defensive and 63rd in offensive boards. Meanwhile, in the MAC, Ohio is third in rebounding offense (40.8), second in rebounding margin (+8.1), sixth in offensive rebounds (12.2), fourth in defensive rebounds (28.6) and second in defensive rebounding percentage (.780). 

PROTECT THIS HOUSE
Ohio has registered an impressive 505-161 (.756) all-time record at the Convocation Center, which opened in 1968. 

In four-plus seasons under Phillips, Ohio has gone 53-19 (.708) at home.

#CONVO50
Ohio announced on Dec. 3, 2018 - the 50th anniversary of the first game inside the Convocation Center - the plans for a 50th anniversary celebration for the Convo. 

Ohio Athletics will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Convocation Center on Saturday, Feb. 2 with a Sibs Weekend basketball doubleheader as the women's team battles Ball State at 1 p.m. ET and the men's team takes on Akron at 3:30 p.m. ET. Tickets for the doubleheader are $5 and include admission to both games. 

The gameday atmosphere surrounding the doubleheader will have a throwback feel to it. Celebration elements are set to include:
• Men's team wearing 1968 throwback uniforms
• Women's team wearing 1980s throwback uniforms
• Cheer and dance teams and Rufus the Bobcat in retro gear
• Retro Ohio "Attack Cat" logo displayed on the court
• Retro music playlist
• Commemorative 50th anniversary posters for the first 2,000 fans in attendance
• Men's basketball reunion attendees introduced to the crowd
• Women's basketball reunion attendees introduced to the crowd
•Internationally known entertainer, Red Panda, to perform at halftime of the men's basketball game

UP NEXT
Following their matchup with NIU, the Bobcats will hit the road for their first MAC road contest of the season when they Head to Bowling Green to take on the Falcons on Tuesday, Jan. 8. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. inside the Stroh Center. 

#BleedGreen