ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio men's basketball team (9-12, 2-7 MAC) opens the second half of 2018 Mid-American Conference play by welcoming West Division foe Central Michigan (14-8, 3-6 MAC) to the Convocation Center on Saturday (Feb. 3) for a 3:30 p.m. ET matchup.
Saturday'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 3 p.m. ET with 'Countdown To Tipoff.'
BOBCATS TAKE ON CENTRAL MICHIGAN AS PART OF SIBS WEEKEND DOUBLEHEADER
The Bobcats' game against the Chippewas is part of an Ohio Sibs Weekend doubleheader at the Convo. The Ohio women's basketball team will play host to MAC West Division foe Ball State in a 1 p.m. ET matchup prior to the men's team's game against Central Michigan. The first 1,000 fans to the doubleheader will receive a free Bobcats Frisbee. Halftime of the men's game will feature Team Zoom: Frisbee Catching Dogs. Click here for more info on the Sibs Weekend Doubleheader.
OHIO SUFFERS SETBACK AT BOWLING GREEN
Freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) matched his career high with 20 points, but Ohio suffered a 66-50 loss to MAC East Division rival Bowling Green on Tuesday (Jan. 30) at the Stroh Center.
The Falcons raced out to a 41-19 halftime lead, and the Bobcats never recovered from an opening 20 minutes of play in which they shot just 20.7 percent (6-of-29) from the floor. Ohio outscored Bowling Green by a 31-25 count in the second half, but Bowling Green never led by less than 14 points in the second half.
Kirk shot 7-of-18 from the field and 5-of-12 from the free throw line en route to a game-high 20 points, marking the third time this season he has reached the 20-point mark. He has reached double figures in scoring a team-high 19 times this year -- including each of the last 13 contests. Kirk also matched senior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) for the team lead with seven rebounds and tallied a team-high three steals in 34 minutes. Laster's seven boards matched his career high.
BOBCATS FALL SHORT AGAINST TWO MAC EAST RIVALS
The Bobcats suffered two close losses to MAC East Division rivals last week.
Junior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) tied his career high by sinking six three-pointers to finish with a game-high 18 points, but Ohio was unable to overcome several critical late-game miscues in a 71-68 setback to Akron on Jan. 23 at James A. Rhodes Arena.
In addition to being the game's leading scorer, Block hauled in a team-high seven rebounds and also added two assists in 38 minutes. He finished in double figures in points for the seventh time this season. Kirk finished 5-of-10 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line to log 16 points. He also distributed a game-high six assists, collected two steals and grabbed a rebound over 29 minutes of work. Junior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) totaled 11 points off of 3-of-4 shooting from the floor and 5-of-6 shooting from the line. He also grabbed six boards and blocked a game-high four shots in 32 minutes.
Despite a second career double-double from Kirk, Ohio could not overcome Buffalo, falling by a score of 73-66 on Jan. 26 at the Convocation Center.
The Bobcats outscored the Bulls in the second half but could not overcome a 33.8 percent (22-of-65) shooting performance for the game that saw Ohio make just 7-of-27 shots in the opening 20 minutes of play. Buffalo shot 42.2 percent (27-of-64) in the victory and outrebounded Ohio by a 51-38 count. The Bulls turned 15 offensive boards into 19 second-chance points.
Kirk provided Ohio with a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds, with 15 of his points coming in the second half. He shot 7-of-16 from the field with a pair of treys. Kirk also added three assists and a steal in 35 minutes. Laster contributed 11 points, one rebound and an assist over 31 minutes. Graduate forward Kevin Mickle (Brooklyn, N.Y.) finished with 11 points, three rebounds, an assist and a block in 24 minutes of work off of the bench. Junior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) went a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line en route to 11 points. He also logged four rebounds, an assist a block and steal in 33 minutes. Block tallied eight points, a game-high four assists, four rebounds, a block and a steal over 30 minutes. Taylor recorded four points, nine rebounds, a game-high four blocks and a steal in 27 minutes.
OHIO IN MAC PLAY
On the defensive end of the floor, Ohio ranks second among MAC teams in league play with 4.7 blocks per contest and also ranks fifth in scoring defense, allowing opponents to average 72.8 points per conference contest.
Through nine MAC games, Kirk leads Ohio with 15.4 points per contest, which ranks 10th in the conference and is tops among the MAC's freshmen. He is averaging 1.9 steals per game in MAC play, which is tied for fourth in the conference. Laster is averaging 13.0 points per game in MAC play. Taylor leads all MAC players in conference play with 3.2 blocks per game, which is over a block per game more than the league's second-best shot blocker, Eastern Michigan redshirt junior forward Elijah Minnie, is averaging (1.9).
DARTIS' HOT HAND HELPS OHIO EARN WIN AT EMU
Dartis matched his career high by draining seven-three pointers en route to a game-high 24 points to help power Ohio to a 72-66 triumph over MAC East Division foe Eastern Michigan on Jan. 20 at the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich. The Bobcats' victory marked Ohio's first true road win of the 2017-18 campaign. Ohio picked up a win in Ypsilanti for the second year in a row.
Ohio overcame a 31-24 halftime deficit by outscoring the Eagles by a 48-35 count over the final 20 minutes of play. The Bobcats won for the third time in 2017-18 after trailing at the half. Ohio shot 63 percent (17-of-27) -- including 66.7 percent (8-of-12) from beyond the arc -- in the second half after converting at just a 30 percent (6-of-20) clip from the floor in the first half.
Dartis went 8-of-12 from the field -- including 7-of-10 from three-point range. He piled up 21 points in the second half, draining six treys. He recorded his fourth 20-point outing of the season and 10th of his Ohio career. Dartis also finished the contest with two rebounds, two assists and two steals in 33 minutes.
Laster scored 16 points, shooting 6-of-12 from the field with a pair of triples. He also added three rebounds and a block over 32 minutes. Kirk finished with 12 points thanks in large part to an 8-of-8 effort from the free throw line. He also dished out three assists, hauled in three boards and matched his career high with four steals in 30 minutes. Taylor went 4-of-4 from the floor to total eight points. He also grabbed two rebounds, blocked a game-high three shots and had an assist in 20 minutes. Block notched six points, five rebounds, a game-high eight assists and a steal over 38 minutes. Mickle scored four points, posted a team-high seven rebounds and also logged two assists and a steal in 19 minutes of work off of the bench.
LASTER POWERS OHIO TO FIRST MAC WIN OF 2018
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 as Ohio earned its first MAC victory of the 2018 season with a 78-68 triumph over Northern Illinois on Jan. 6 at the Convocation Center.
Laster became the first Bobcat to score at least 30 points in a game this season.
Taylor blocked a career-high six shots in addition to recording two points, six rebounds and a steal in 17 minutes. He became the first Bobcat to block at least five shots in a game since former forward Antonio Campbell did so in a 79-62 win over Northern Illinois in the 2016 MAC Tournament Quarterfinals on March 10, 2016, in Cleveland.
OHIO FINISHES NON-CONFERENCE PLAY WITH SEVEN WINS
The Bobcats tallied seven victories in 12 tries over the first two months of the 2017-18 campaign.
Ohio opened the year with a 61-53 triumph over Alabama A&M on Nov. 11 at the Convocation Center, marking the first of six wins at the Roundhouse On Richland in non-conference action. The Bobcats' biggest win of the non-conference slate came on Dec. 10, with Ohio posting an 89-84 victory over Western Kentucky, which had received votes in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll the previous week.
The Bobcats went 1-2 at the 2017 Gildan Charleston Classic, placing seventh in the tournament that was held Nov. 16-19 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.
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 MAC rival Akron on Jan. 8, 2003. Ohio's rally from 18 down in the victory represented the program's largest comeback win of Saul Phillips' Ohio coaching tenure. 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.
Ohio entered MAC play still in search of its first true road win. The Bobcats suffered an 87-62 setback to Big Ten Conference foe Maryland on Dec. 7 in College Park, Md., then fell to longtime rival Marshall in an overtime heartbreaker, 99-96, on Dec. 16 in Huntington, W. Va.
THE INJURY BUG
Ohio has been dealing with adversity on the injury front all through the early portion of the 2017-18 season.
Sophomore forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio) -- a 2017-18 Preseason All-MAC East Division Team selection and 2017 All-MAC Freshman Team pick -- has missed 18 games this year with a lower leg injury. The Bobcats have been depleted in the frontcourt as freshman forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) works his way back from a lower leg injury and has yet to appear in a game this season. After missing the first 12 games of the 2017-18 campaign with an upper arm injury, freshman forward A.J. Gareri (Akron, Ohio) made his career debut at Central Michigan, scoring two points off of two made free throws. Mickle missed two games due to a lower leg injury.
The Bobcats have also found themselves without their starting guards at different points, with Laster and Dartis each missing a game due to injuries.
Laster is looking to make his final season as a Bobcat his best yet, and he's off to a good start. He is averaging 14.6 points per game to rank second on the team and rank 16th among MAC players and is shooting 46.9 percent (114-of-243) from the field to rank third on the squad. He is shooting 37.9 percent (36-of-95) from beyond the arc, which ranks third on the team.
Laster turned in his fourth game of the 2017-18 season with at least 20 points in the win over Western Kentucky. He led Ohio with a 23-point effort, going 8-of-11 from the field -- including 2-of-3 from three-point range -- en route to finishing in double figures for the sixth game in a row.
Between Nov. 19-28, Laster tallied three-straight games with at least 20 points, making him the first Bobcat to achieve such a feat since 2015-16. The stretch included a 25-point effort in the quadruple overtime win over Indiana State in the Gildan Charleston Classic.
Over his last 38 games, Laster is averaging 11.2 points per game and is shooting 49.7 percent (168-of-338) from the field.
ROOKIE PLAYING LIKE A VET
Kirk has impressed through his first 21 games as a Bobcat. Starting at point guard in every contest, he is averaging 14.8 points per game to lead the team and is shooting 43.4 percent (105-of-242) from the field to rank fourth. Kirk is looking to become the first Ohio freshman to average double figures in points since guard D.J. Cooper averaged 13.5 per contest in his rookie campaign of 2009-10.
Kirk also leads the team with 1.5 steals per game, which is good for eighth in the MAC, and ranks second on the squad in both rebounds per game (5.9) and assists per game (3.0).
Kirk achieved his first career double-double with 14 points and a game-high 14 rebounds to set a new career high in Ohio's 65-58 win over Northwestern Ohio on Dec. 29 at the Convo to close out the non-conference portion of the 2017-18 schedule.
Ohio beat Alabama A&M in the 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.
Kirk continued the strong start to his freshman campaign in a 96-77 win over Mount St. Mary's on Nov. 24 at the Convo, 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.
Mickle has proven to be a valuable addition to the Ohio rotation since joining the program upon earning his bachelor's degree in communications from Florida Gulf Coast after playing for the Eagles for two seasons.
Mickle currently ranks fourth on the team with 9.1 points per game and is shooting 48.6 percent (69-of-142) from the floor to rank second on the squad. He set a career high with 17 points in his first career start as a Bobcat in the win over Western Kentucky, which he then broke with his 19-point effort in the loss at Marshall.
Mickle has reached double figures in points nine times in 19 games played for Ohio in 2017-18. In 63 games at Florida Gulf Coast, he reached double digits just three times.
For his two-plus year Ohio career, Dartis averages 11.6 points per game and is a 44.6 percent shooter -- including a 43.7 percent success rate from beyond the arc, which ranks second in program history. He is one of eight players in program history to sink at least 200 career three-pointers with 201. He needs two more made treys to pass Geno Ford (202; 1994-97), five more to pass Gus Johnson (205; 1993-96) and seven more to pass Steve Esterkamp (207; 2000-03) on the program's all-time list. Dartis has finished in double figures 49 times in his Ohio career, which is the most among active Bobcats, and has tallied at least 20 points in a game 10 times in his career, which is also ranks as the most among active Ohio players. He needs 51 more points to become the 37th player in program history to join the 1,000-point club.
Dartis is averaging 12.4 points per game to rank third on the squad in 2017-18 and has finished with double-digit points 11 times this season to rank third on the team. He scored a career-high 27 points, thanks in large part to matching his career high with seven made threes at Marshall. He then recorded his second-straight outing with at least 20 points, tallying a team-high 23 off a 6-of-13 shooting effort from the field that included three treys in addition to sinking eight of his nine free throw attempts in an 84-65 win over Prairie View A&M on Dec. 20 at the Convo.
A 2017-18 Preseason All-MAC East Division Team pick, Dartis is coming off of a 2016-17 sophomore campaign in which he garnered Second Team All-MAC honors. He started a career-high 31 games, tallying a career-high 390 points (12.6 per game) to rank second on the team, a career-high 113 rebounds (3.6 per game) to rank fifth on the team, a career-high 56 assists (1.8 per game) to rank third on the team, a career-high 39 steals (1.3 per game) to lead the team and a career-high six blocks (0.2 per game) over a career-high 1,082 minutes (34.9 per game) to rank second on the team. Dartis shot 44.0 percent (118-of-268) from the field -- including a team-best 44.1 percent (86-of-195) from three-point range, which ranks as the seventh-best three-point field goal percentage in a single season in program history and ranked as the best in the conference and 11th in the nation. He also posted a team-best 88.3 percent (68-of-77) free throw percentage. Dartis finished in double figures in points a career-high 23 times to rank second on the team -- including recording 20 or more points a career-high four times -- and led the team in scoring a career-high four times and in assists a career-high two times.
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 minutes 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 21 games this season, Block ranks fifth on the squad with 8.9 points per game and leads the team with 3.3 assists per game. His 4.3 rebounds per game are good for third on the squad.
Taylor is averaging a team-high 7.0 rebounds per game, which ranks eighth among MAC players. He has tallied double-digit boards a team-high six times -- including pulling down a career-high 15 in the quadruple overtime win over Indiana State in the Gildan Charleston Classic.
Taylor is also averaging a team-high 2.0 blocks per game, which is tops among MAC players.
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 was the lone bright spot for Ohio in its 91-57 loss to MAC West Division foe Toledo on Jan. 16 at the Convo. He provided the Bobcats with a career-high 15 points, shooting 6-of-9 from the field. He also added five blocks, five rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes of play.
SCOUTING THE CHIPPEWAS
Central Michigan opened MAC play with a 75-50 win over Ohio on Jan. 2 at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant, Mich. The Chippewas outscored the Bobcats, 38-19, in the second half as Ohio shot just 26.7 percent (8-of-30) from the floor and went 0-of-11 from beyond the arc. Sophomore forward David DiLeo led the Chippewas with a game-high 22 points, going 7-of-13 from the field with six treys. He also contributed seven rebounds and an assist over 34 minutes of work. Senior forward Cecil Williams just missed out on a double-double, finishing with 15 points and a game-high nine boards. He also tallied a game-high assists to go along with two steals and a block in 32 minutes. Junior guard Shawn Roundtree, Jr. logged 13 points, two assists and a rebound in 29 minutes of action. Senior forward Luke Meyer hit five of his seven field goal attempts -- including a pair of triples -- to total 12 points. He also had four rebounds and a steal over 26 minutes of work.
Since beating Ohio, Central Michigan has dropped six of their last eight MAC games but is coming off of an 81-67 home victory over West Division rival Northern Illinois on Tuesday.
Keno Davis is in year six as head coach of the Chippewas. His squad is statistically one of the best defensive teams in the MAC, ranking third among league teams in opponent points per game (69.8), second in opponent field goal percentage (42.3 percent) and fourth in opponent three-point field goal percentage (34.1 percent). The Chippewas also takes advantage of their opportunities when they get to the free throw line, ranking first in the country with an 80.0 percent free throw percentage.
Roundtree, Jr. is averaging a team-high 14.6 points per game, which ranks 15th among MAC players, and is dishing out a team-high 4.0 assists per game, which is tied for seventh among MAC players. Williams averages 14.3 points per game. DiLeo is averaging 12.8 points and a team-high 7.2 boards per game, with the latter ranking eighth among MAC players.
Ohio leads the all-time series with Central Michigan, 45-30 (.600), but has dropped each of the last five meetings. The Chippewas recorded a 97-87 win in their last visit to the Convo on Feb. 7, 2017.
Ohio hosts MAC East Division rival Akron next Tuesday (Feb. 6) in a 7 p.m. ET contest at the Convo. The contest will be streamed live on WatchESPN and the ESPN app.