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Ohio Men's Basketball Takes Aim At Third-Straight Win As Iona Visits Convo

Ohio Men's Basketball Takes Aim At Third-Straight Win As Iona Visits Convo


By Mike Ashcraft

Watch: ESPN3 
 Ohio IMG Sports Network
Live Stats: PrimeTime
Game Notes: Ohio (PDF)

ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio men's basketball team (3-2) looks to run its winning streak to three in a row when plays host to Iona (1-4) on Tuesday (Nov. 28) in a 7 p.m. ET matchup at the Convocation Center.

Tuesday's game will be streamed live on 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 6:30 p.m. ET with 'Countdown To Tipoff.'

Five players finished in double figures in points as Ohio asserted itself in a dominant 96-77 victory over Mount St. Mary's last Friday (Nov. 24) at the Convocation Center.

The Bobcats shot a season-best 54.9 percent (39-of-71) from the field and held the advantage in rebounds (35-28), assists (19-15), steals (8-1), points in the paint (50-39), points off turnovers (23-5), second-chance points (11-8), fastbreak points (8-3) and bench points (20-9). Ohio's marks in assists, points in the paint, points off turnovers and bench points represented season highs.

Ohio came out on top in the first-ever meeting with the Mountaineers, who qualified for the NCAA Championship field in 2016-17 by winning the Northeast Conference tournament and achieved a 20-win season.

After the win over Mount St. Mary's, Ohio is now a perfect 12-0 when scoring at least 90 points under fourth-year head coach Saul Phillips.

Freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) has impressed through his first five games as a Bobcat. Starting at point guard in every contest, he is averaging 15.6 points per game to rank second on the team and is shooting a team-best 50 percent (30-of-60) from the field. He is the lone Bobcat to tally double-digit points in all five contests. He is also averaging a team-high 4.0 assists and 1.4 steals per game. 

Kirk continued the strong start to his freshman campaign in the win over Mount St. Mary's, 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. He also matched his career high with six assists to tie for the team lead and grabbed five boards in 32 minutes.

Ohio beat Alabama A&M, 61-53, in the 2017-18 season opener on Nov. 11 at the Convo behind a game-high 16 points from Kirk. In his debut for the Bobcats, he also added four rebounds, two assists and a steal over 32 minutes in his first career start. 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 quadrule overtime over Indiana State (Nov. 19), 96-94.

Senior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) is looking to make his final season as a Bobcat his best yet, and he's off to a good start. Laster is averaging 14.4 points per game to rank third on the squad and is shooting 44.8 percent (30-of-67) from the field.

Laster posted his second-straight outing with at least 20 points in the victory over Mount St. Mary's, matching Kirk for the team lead with 20 after going 9-of-16 from the floor with a pair of threes. He also tallied two rebounds over 36 minutes.

Junior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) 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 has tallied double-digit boards three times in five games to start the 2017-18 season. He is averaging a team-high 8.8 rebounds per game and is also averaging a team-high 1.4 blocks per game. He ranks fifth on the squad with 7.0 points per game.

After shooting just 2-of-10 from the field -- including -- 2-of-6 from three -- in a six-point performance against Alabama A&M, Dartis found his stroke at the Charleston Classic, averaging a team-high 19.3 points (58 points). He tallied 18 points off of four made field goals -- including a pair of triples -- in addition to making all eight of his attempts from the free throw line against Clemson. He then went 7-of-12 from the field with three triples en route to scoring a team-high 19 points against Dayton. He saved his best for last with the 21-point effort in the victory over Indiana State. Dartis has scored at least 20 points in a game seven times in his career, more than any other player on Ohio's roster.

Dartis made it four games in a row in double figures after making 6-of-13 shots -- including three triples -- to notch 15 points in the win over Mount St. Mary's. He also finished with two rebounds, two steals and an assist over 30 minutes of work. He is now averaging a team-high 15.8 points per game and is shooting 42.2 percent (27-of-64) from the floor. 

With four injured forwards unavailable to play on its roster, Ohio's bench was down to six reserves going into the contest against Mount St. Mary's. Freshman guard Zach Butler (Spartanburg, S.C.) and redshirt sophomore guard James Gollon (Stevens Point, Wis.) ensured the contest would be the bench's most productive game of the year to date.

Butler finished a perfect 4-of-4 from both the floor and the free throw line to collect a career-high 12 points off of the bench. He also chipped in two rebounds, two assists and a steal in 20 minutes of action. Gollon provided six points, a career-high four assists, two rebounds and a career-high two steals in 16 minutes off of the bench.

Iona went 22-13 last year -- including 12-8 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play. As the No. 3 seed in the 2017 MAAC tournament, the Gaels rattled off three-straight wins in Albany, N.Y. -- including a thrilling 87-86 overtime triumph over Siena in the title game to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship field for the second year in a row. Iona fell to eventual national semifinalist Oregon, 93-77, in First Round action.

Iona has been picked to win the MAAC again according to the conference's preseason poll, which saw the Gaels garner 116 points and nine first-place votes.

The Gaels have earned four March Madness appearances in the last six seasons under Tim Cluess, who is in his eighth year as head coach at Iona. Iona is off to a slow start to begin the 2017-18 campaign. The Gaels opened the year with back-to-back road losses at Albany (69-67, Nov. 10) and Syracuse (71-62, Nov. 14). Iona then went 1-2 at the inaugural Islands Of The Bahamas Showcase, earning on 80-72 win over Weber State on Nov. 17 but falling to Northern Kentucky, 85-72, and Coastal Carolina, 89-84, over the next two days. Through five games, Iona is allowing the opposition to shoot 49.1 percent from the field (321st in the country) and owns a -8.6 rebounding margin (325th in the country).

Cluess saw his squad lose three keys components to his program's last two NCAA tournament teams to graduation in forward Jordan Washington (18. points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game), guard Jon Severe (11.3 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game, 2.2 assists per game) and guard Sam Cassell Jr. (10.9 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game, 3.0 assists per game).

Junior guard Rickey McGill is considered one of the top playmakers in the MAAC and was named to the league's preseason all-second team. He is averaging a team-high 14.6 points, 5.2 assists and 2.4 steals per game and is shooting 40.7 percent (11-of-27) from beyond the arc. Graduate forward TK Edogi, a transfer from Tulsa, is nearly averaging a double-double with 13.2 points and a team-high 8.8 boards per game and is shooting a scoring 72.7 percent (32-of-44) from the field.. Another graduate transfer -- guard Zach Lewis from UMass by way of a MAAC rival Canisius -- is averaging 13.2 points, 4.6 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 2.0 steals to give Iona the MAAC's most formidable backcourt. Senior guard Deyshonee Much, another Preseason All-MAAC Second Team pick, is scoring at a 12.4 points-per-game clip while sophomore guard/forward E.J. Crawford averages 9.0 points per game and is shooting a team-best 78.6 percent (11-of-14) from the free throw line.

Ohio and Iona are set to square off for the second year in a row. The Gaels earned a 79-75 win over the Bobcats on Dec. 10, 2016, at Hynes Athletics Center in New Rochelle, N.Y. The Bobcats lost despite holding a 40-34 lead at halftime. Dartis finished in double figures in points for the Bobcats with 10. He distributed a team-high five assists and also had four boards in 38 minutes. Then-Junior guard/forward Jan Svandrlik gave the Gaels a boost off of the bench, draining five of his six made field goals from beyond the arc to finish with 19 points in 19 minutes. He also had five rebounds. Svandrlik sank four of his three-pointers in the second half. Crawford notched 15 points thanks in large to seven made free throws. He also contributed four rebounds and an assist over 29 minutes for Iona. McGill distributed a game-high 12 assists for the Gaels. He also had six points, three steals and two rebounds in 35 minutes.

The Bobcats are 9-8 (.529) against current MAAC members. Ohio last played host to an MAAC program on Nov. 11, 2006 -- an 83-66 win over Marist.

Ohio closes out its current three-game homestand by welcoming Coppin State to the Convo for a 7 p.m. ET contest on Friday (Dec. 1).


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