Ohio holds Central Michigan to 29 percent shooting in blowout
Bobcats roll, 68-42, for sixth straight victory
By Lonnie McMillan / Contributor
Saturday, February 04, 2012
ATHENS, Ohio – Ohio held Central Michigan to 28.8 percent shooting in running away with its sixth straight Mid-American Conference victory, 68-42, on Saturday at The Convo.
The Chippewas (7-15, 2-7 MAC) connected on just 15 of 52 shots from the field, including 4 of 23 from 3-point range while committing 14 turnovers.
“The best thing that we did was we played pretty close to a 40-minute game,” Ohio coach John Groce said. “… I really appreciated our guys staying mentally tough in the first half when our shots weren’t falling.”
Walter Offutt and Nick Kellogg knocked down four 3-pointers each, scoring 17 and 14 points, respectively, to lead the Bobcats (19-4, 7-2 MAC). D.J. Cooper had nine points, seven assists and seven rebounds but left late in the second half with a wrist injury.
“It feels good to knock down a couple shots, especially the ones we’re getting,” Kellogg said. “Coach never tells us to pass up wide-open looks.”
Groce said trainers do not believe Cooper’s wrist is broken, but more than likely that he suffered a sprain. He said it will be X-rayed to be sure.
Oliver Mbaigoto had 14 points and nine rebounds to lead Central Michigan. Trey Zeigler had 10 points but was just 4 of 12 from the field.
“We talked about just making everything tough for (Zeigler), like catches and post-ups,” Offutt said. “It’s more team concept when defending him, a great player like that, because you have gap support. That was the main key. It was hard for him to get in the paint. He took tough shots.”
Ohio got back-to-back 3-pointers from Cooper and Kellogg to open the game and never trailed. A second Kellogg trey made it 9-1 less than three minutes into the game.
Central Michigan got as close as 15-11 on a Zeigler jumper, but Stevie Taylor answered with a 3-pointer. Cooper scored a free throw that pushed the lead to double digits, 24-14, with 5:21 remaining, and Reggie Keely followed with a basket that gave the Bobcats their biggest lead.
After the Chippewas closed to within six on an Austin McBroom jumper, the Bobcats scored the final seven points of the half, including three free throws from Cooper with less than a second to play.
Kellogg made it a 10-0 run spanning two halves before Mbaigoto finally answered with a bucket. Offutt drilled a shot from beyond the arc for a 39-22 Ohio lead.
T.J. Hall’s jumper made it an 18-point game at the 12:22 mark and Kellogg capped a 7-0 Bobcats run with a 3-pointer at the 7:56 mark, making it 56-33.
The Bobcats also closed the game on a 10-2 run, allowing only one Chippewas basket in the final 6:33.
“That’s another thing Coach emphasized in a timeout with about seven and a half minutes to go,” Offutt said. “He wanted that same score with 5:30 to go. He wanted us to finish the game off strong. I think we did a good job of playing even though we were up big and I think the bench also did a good job. There wasn’t a fall-off. … That’s a good, mature thing to do.”
After Ohio struggled offensively in the first half by shooting just 32.3 percent, it knocked down 50 percent of its shots after halftime to pull away. The Bobcats were 11 of 30 from 3-point range and 13 of 25 from the free throw line.
In last year’s game in Mount Pleasant, Central Michigan rolled up more than 90 points in a victory. The Chippewas, until Saturday, have had major offensive success in Groce’s four years at the helm.
“It in got my crawl a little bit when I saw the numbers from the first three times we’ve played them,” Groce said. “They shot 50 percent and almost 50 percent from 3. Last year we didn’t guard very well. Today was a much better game. … When they guard like that and get some of the results they’re getting, they earn the right to be confident. … If you defend, on any given night you’re going to have a chance to win.”
Ohio hits the road for two straight games beginning with a 7 p.m. game Wednesday at Toledo.