ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio men's basketball team begins its 111th regular season on Saturday (Nov. 11) when it opens the 2017-18 campaign with a 2 p.m. ET matchup against Alabama A&M at the Convocation Center.
"Increased comfort with our guys playing together," said fourth-year head coach Saul Phillips when asked what he wanted to see from his team in the opener. "Integrating the new faces. People solidifying their minutes that they've earned to this point. People who maybe haven't earned those minutes stepping up and making me think about it a little more. Just progress. It's going to be the entire preseason. It's not a real splashy answer, but I just want to see us get better."
Saturday's game will be streamed live WatchESPN and the ESPN app, with Marty Bannister and Toni Roesch 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 1:30 p.m. ET with 'Countdown To Tipoff.'
Saturday's contest will serve as the Ohio men's basketball program's Alumni Weekend celebration, with a number of former Bobcats making their returns to Athens.
The Bobcats are 75-35 (.682) all-time in season openers and have won their last 13, all of which have been played inside the Convocation Center. Last season saw Ohio top Southern, 77-67, in the 2016-17 season opener on Nov. 12, 2016, at the Convo.
Alabama A&M enters its first season under head coach Donnie Marsh in 2017-18. Marsh spent the past two seasons as the associate head coach at Texas Southern under Mike Davis, whom he also served as an assistant under at Indiana and UAB. The Bulldogs finished last in the Southwestern Athletic Conference last year with an overall record of 2-27 and a league mark of 2-16. Alabama A&M was picked to finish last in the SWAC in the league's 2017-18 preseason poll. Sophomore guard De'Ederick Petty is Alabama A&M's top returner from last year's team after averaging 13.3 points per game for the Bulldogs as a rookie in 2016-17.
Ohio topped Alabama A&M in the only previous meeting between the two programs by a 72-47 count on Dec. 14, 2013.
The Bobcats are a perfect 7-0 all-time against teams out of the SWAC -- including 5-0 over the last three seasons under Phillips. Ohio is scheduled to host another member of the SWAC -- Prairie View A&M -- on Dec. 20 at the Convo.
After hosting Alabama A&M, Ohio will fly south to take part in the tenth annual Gildan Charleston Classic, to be played Nov. 16, 17 & 19 at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C. The bracket-format tournament features 12 games over three days. The teams compete once per day, advancing with a victory. The two teams that remain undefeated will face off in the championship game on Sun., Nov. 19. Ohio will open the Gildan Charleston Classic by taking on Atlantic Coast Conference foe Clemson next Thursday (Nov. 16) at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2.