ATHENS, Ohio – Despite a double-double from redshirt freshman Jason Carter, the offensive struggles for the Ohio men's basketball team (11-10, 3-6 MAC) would continue, as the Bobcats fell to Mid-American Conference East foe, Akron (13-8, 5-3 MAC), 65-53, inside the Convocation Center this afternoon.
"Tough night for us again offensively," fifth-year head coach Saul Phillips said. "We need more point production out of more people."
Carter (Johnstown, Ohio) compiled a team-high 18 points and a game-high 10 rebounds in his double-double performance. Carter added a team-high two blocks and a steal in his 35 minutes of work. Sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) registered nine points, five rebounds and a team-high three assists in his 31 minutes of play. Senior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.), senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) and freshman guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) all contributed six points for the Bobcats. Block added a team-high three assists in his 21 minutes of play while Taylor added a team-high two blocks and four rebounds in his 25 minutes of play. Preston added two rebounds, two assists and a block in his 26 minutes of play for the Bobcats.
"We're playing tight and lacking confidence," Carter said. "I see that a little bit and we just have to get back to enjoying the game and enjoying that end of the floor. I just see a lot of guys lacking confidence and not taking shots that they should be and when one doesn't go in we're getting down and not taking ones that we should be. That's the biggest thing right now. When we get the ball moving, guys just have to take shots that they're use to taking and not think too much."
Ohio would snatch the jumpball, but Akron compiled a quick 5-0 run to begin the game. Junior guard Antonio Cowart, Jr. (McComb, Miss.) gave Ohio its first points with a three-point bucket after a two-minute scoring drought. Both teams struggled offensively, Ohio going 1-of-11 while Akron went 5-of-14, in the opening seven minutes resulting in a 12-3 Akron lead with 12 minutes left in the opening half. Carter ended the scoring drought with a bucket underneath the hoop, but Akron would answer with a pair of free-throws that kept the nine-point Akron advantage. After Akron compiled four unanswered points, a slam dunk by Carter paired with a three-point basket sparked a 6-0 Bobcat run with seven minutes remaining in the first half. Carter and Block once again teamed up for five unanswered points that brought Ohio within three, down 19-16, as the five-minute mark approached. However, Akron strung together a pair of baskets stretching the lead back to seven. Ohio and Akron traded baskets through the two-minute mark which kept Akron ahead, 27-20. Akron extended its lead to 10 with one-minute remaining in the opening half. Kirk contributed a late basket to end the first half resulting in a 30-22 Akron advantage at halftime.
Ohio registered a 33.3 percent field goal percentage going 9-of-27 from the field – including 3-of-10 from three-point range, compared to Akron who registered a 42.3 percent field goal percentage going 11-of-26 from the field for the half – including 2-of-10 from three-point range. Ohio registered 15 total rebounds and 10 points in the paint compared to Akron who registered 20 total rebounds and compiled 14 points in the paint. Ohio registered one steal and two blocks compared to the Zips five steals and three blocks for the half. The Zips forced eight turnovers for eight points while Ohio forced seven turnovers for six points but, Ohio was able to register eight assists compared to only four assists for Akron. Both teams only registered two points off the bench for the half.
Akron would score the opening basket of the half, but Carter and Kirk answered with back-to-back baskets to cut the deficit to seven. Akron responded with a 12-4 run to generate its largest lead of the game, taking a 45-30 lead, forcing an Ohio timeout with 15 minutes remaining in the game. Akron extended its lead with back-to-back three-point baskets for a 51-30 advantage. Kirk was able to get to the rim for an Ohio basket that brought the deficit to 51-32, however, Akron again answered going on a 7-0 run that forced an Ohio timeout with just over 10 minutes remaining in the second half.
Carter added a quick basket for Ohio out of the timeout, however, Akron was able to answer. Freshman guard Torey James (Hickory, N.C.) registered a three-point bucket that sparked an 11-3 Ohio run with just over five minutes to play. Kirk and Taylor both contributed a basket while Carter and Preston both converted a pair of free-throws in the Ohio run. After an Akron basket, Ohio compiled six unanswered points and called a timeout in an effort to make a comeback, trailing 65-51, with under two-minutes remaining. Cowart Jr. added a late basket, but it was not enough as Akron secured the, 65-53, victory over the Bobcats.
Ohio finished the game with a 37.7 percent (20-of-53) field goal percentage and 32 total rebounds compared to Akron who finished the game with a 41.7 percent (25-of-60) field goal percentage and 41 total rebounds. Ohio registered 26 points in the paint and nine points off the bench compared to 28 points in the paint and nine points off the bench the Zips. Ohio forced 13 turnovers with two steals, but Akron forced 14 turnovers with six steals. Ohio however, compiled 12 assists and five blocks compared to Akron who compiled 11 assists and five blocks.
Jimond Ivey led the Zips in scoring with a game-high 21 points going 8-of-17 from the field. Ivey added a team-high nine rebounds assists and two steals in his 36 minutes of play. Daniel Utomi added 14 points and four rebounds in his 29 minutes of play. Loren Cristian Jackson followed closely behind with 12 points and a game-high five assists in his 33 minutes of work. Deng Riak added a team-high nine rebounds and a game-high three blocks in his 25 minutes of play for the Zips.
The Bobcats will have a week off before heading to Oxford, Ohio when they take on Miami on Saturday, Feb. 9. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.