By Mike Ashcraft
ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio men's basketball team (4-3) heads to College Park, Md., for its first true road game of the 2017-18 season, taking on Big Ten Conference foe Maryland (7-3) in a 7 p.m. ET matchup at the Xfinity Center.
Thursday's game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network, with Tom Werme and Dan Bonner 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.'
BOBCATS COMING OFF DOMINANT PERFORMANCE AGAINST COPPIN STATE
Ohio recorded its most lopsided victory in 16 years and held an opponent under 40 points for the first time since 1973, rolling to a commanding 80-37 victory over Coppin State last Friday (Dec. 1) at the Convocation Center.
The Bobcats' 43-point margin of victory represented the program's biggest win since beating Long Island by 53, 110-57, on Dec. 27, 2001, at the FIU Holiday Classic in Miami, Fla. Ohio held a team under 40 points for the first time since an 87-31 win over Marietta on Jan. 9, 1973.
Ohio held the Eagles to just 21.3 percent (13-of-61) from the field -- including 12 percent (3-of-25) from three-point range. The Bobcats dominated the box score in rebounds (56-37), assists (16-5), steals (11-2), points in the paint (34-10), points off turnovers (20-4), second chance points (16-6) and bench points (36-13).
Senior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) went 8-of-12 from the field with a pair of threes to finish with a game-high 18 points. He also tallied two assists and a steal in 27 minutes of action. After missing the last two games with an injury, graduate forward Kevin Mickle (Brooklyn, N.Y.) came off the bench to score 15 points -- his most as a Bobcat -- after going 6-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-5 from the free throw line. He also chipped in five rebounds, a game-high three steals and two assists -- all his most as a Bobcat -- over 15 minutes. Redshirt sophomore guard James Gollon (Stevens Point, Wis.) went a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe en route to career-high 11 points in 16 minutes off of the bench. He also posted a career-high eight boards to go along with an assist and a steal. Junior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) finished with double-digit rebounds for the fourth game in a row with a game-high 10.
PUTTING UP THE POINTS
Over its last four games, Ohio has averaged 90 points per game, bringing its season average to 80.3 per game. The Bobcats averaged just 67.3 points over the first three games of the year.
BOBCATS TOP MOUNT ST. MARY'S ON BLACK FRIDAY
Five players finished in double figures in points as Ohio asserted itself in a dominant 96-77 victory over Mount St. Mary's on 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 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.
Laster is looking to make his final season as a Bobcat his best yet, and he's off to a good start. Laster is averaging 16.1 points per game to lead the team and is shooting a team-best 49.0 percent (48-of-98) from the field. Between Nov. 19-28, he tallied three-straight games with at least 20 points, making him the first Bobcat to achieve such a feat since 2015-16.
Laster posted his second-straight outing with at least 20 points in the victory over Mount St. Mary's, matching freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) for the team lead with 20 after going 9-of-16 from the floor with a pair of threes. Laster then had a game-high 23 points, making 10 of his 19 shots in a 93-88 loss to Iona on Nov. 28.
ROOKIE PLAYING LIKE A VET
Kirk has impressed through his first seven games as a Bobcat. Starting at point guard in every contest, he is averaging 14.4 points per game to rank third on the team and is shooting 47.6 percent (39-of-82) from the field. He was the lone Bobcat to tally double-digit points the first six contests of the year. He is also averaging a team-high 3.7 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.
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. 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 (Nov. 19), 96-94.
DOUG'S FIRST DOUBLE-DOUBLE
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 has tallied double-digit boards five times in seven games to start the 2017-18 season -- including each of the last four contests. He is averaging a team-high 9.3 rebounds per game and is also averaging a team-high 1.7 blocks 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, junior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) 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.
Dartis is now averaging 14.7 points per game to rank second on the squad and is shooting 43.6 percent (34-of-78) from the floor -- including a team-best 41.2 percent (21-of-51) from beyond the arc.
RESERVES STEP UP
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 Gollon 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.
Over the last three contests, Butler and Gollon have both averaged 7.7 points per game. While Gollon set career highs in points and boards in the victory over Coppin State, Butler collected a career-high five rebounds.
OHIO PLACES SEVENTH AT 2017 CHARLESTON CLASSIC
Ohio went 1-2 at the 2017 Gildan Charleston Classic, placing seventh in the tournament that was held 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.
QUADRUPLE THE FUN
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 Mid-American Conference rival Akron on Jan. 8, 2003.
Ohio's rally from 18 down in the victory over Indiana State represented the program's largest comeback win of Phillips' tenure.
SO YOU'RE SAYIN' THERE'S A CHANCE
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. A layup by Laster, an and-one layup by Kirk, two more free throws by Kirk and a triple by Dartis made it a two-point affair at 80-78 with 23 seconds left. Sophomore guard Jordan Barnes made the second of two free throws with 20 seconds left to extend Indiana State's lead to 81-78, but junior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) saved the Bobcats by knocking down a three with 13 seconds left to tie it back up.
Laster scored a career-high 25 points to lead all scorers in the win over Indiana State, making a career-high nine field goals and match his career high with three made treys. He also posted a career-high seven rebounds and tied his career high with three assists over 49 minutes. Dartis made a career-high eight field goals -- including four triples -- to finish with 21 points. He also tied his career high with seven rebounds and added two assists and a steal in 54 minutes. Kirk totaled a career-high 20 points off of a 7-of-16 shooting effort from the field and a 6-of-7 performance from the free throw line. He also grabbed a career-high six boards, totaled a career-high four steals and dished out a team-high four assists in 50 minutes of work.
GETTING AFTER IT ON THE GLASS
Ohio accumulated 55 rebounds in the win over Indiana State. The last time the Bobcats hauled in at least 50 boards in a game was Dec. 30, 2013, when Ohio grabbed 52 in a 78-43 win over Longwood. Taylor paced Ohio's effort on the glass in the victory over the Sycamores, recording a career-high 15 rebounds.
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 mintues 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 seven games this season, Block ranks fourth on the squad with 12.1 points per game and second in both rebounds per game (5.9) and assists per game (3.7).
SCOUTING THE TERRAPINS
Maryland has earned seven victories in its first 10 games to open the 2017-18 season. The Terrapins are 1-1 in Big Ten play after dropping an 80-75 decision to Purdue last Friday but bouncing back with a 92-91 overtime win at Illinois on Sunday (Dec. 3).
Mark Turgeon is in his seventh season at the helm at Maryland and has guided the Terps to the NCAA tournament in each of the last three seasons. No. 6-seeded Maryland dropped a 76-65 battle to No. 11-seeded Xavier in NCAA Championship First Round action in 2017.
Maryland enters Thursday's contest ranking 38th in the country field goal percentage (49.7%) and 64th in three-point field goal percentage (38.5%). The Terrapins own a rebounding margin of +10.9, which is good for 12th in the nation.
Sophomore guard Anthony Cowan Jr. averages a team-high 16.5 points and 4.0 assists per game. Sophomore guard Kevin Huerter is a 52.2 percent (47-of-90) shooter who averags 13.4 points per contest while freshman forward Bruno Fernando averages 10.8 points per game and is shooting a team-best 63.1 percent (41-of-65) from the floor. Sophomore forward Justin Jackson -- a 2017-18 Preseason All-Big Ten Team selection -- nearly averages a double-double with 9.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
Ohio is 1-1 all-time against Maryland, with both previous meetings between the two programs coming in College Park, Md. The Bobcats came away victorious in the most recent matchup, posting a 61-55 victory on Dec. 12, 2007.
The Bobcats are 23-66 (.258) all-time against current members of the Big Ten. Ohio last faced a Big Ten team on Dec. 25, 2014, dropping a 71-58 decision to Nebraska in the 2014 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic fifth-place game in Honolulu. Ohio's last road victory over a Big Ten team came on Nov. 16, 1994 -- a 74-67 triumph over in-state rival Ohio State in the Preseason NIT. Ohio's last win over a Big Ten opponent occurred on March 16, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn., when the No. 13-seeded Bobcats upset No. 4-seeded Michigan, 65-60, in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Championship.
Ohio returns to the Convo on Sunday (Dec. 10) to host Western Kentucky in a 2 p.m. ET matchup.