Bobcats slow down high-scoring Bulldogs
Ohio runs away with easy BracketBuster victory
By Lonnie McMillan / Contributor
Saturday, February 18, 2012
ATHENS, Ohio – Ohio held the nation’s fourth-highest scoring team to 20 points below its average and ran away with an 81-62 BracketBuster victory against UNC Asheville on Saturday at The Convo.
Averaging 82.3 points per game, the Bulldogs (19-9) scored only 18 points in the first half and shot just 34.0 percent for the game. The Bobcats (21-6) connected on 57.7 percent of their shots, including 73.9 percent in the second half.
“We are who we are this time of year,” Ohio coach John Groce said. “Tonight our defense showed up at a high level, especially the first 30 minutes. We were physical and nasty at the defensive end.”
Walter Offutt paced Ohio with 19 points, while Stevie Taylor scored 12 points off the bench. Nick Kellogg reached double figures with 10 points.
Matt Dickey and Jeremy Atkinson had 16 points each for UNC Asheville.
Ohio took control early, getting out to an 8-1 lead. Taylor scored five straight Bobcats points to make the score 16-6 and Offutt connected from deep to make it 19-6 before the midway point of the first half.
A Kellogg 3-pointer at the 6:37 mark made it 25-8, and after UNC Asheville cut its deficit to 12 on a three-point play by Atkinson, Ohio got a trey by Offutt and a Taylor steal and layup to make it a 17-point game again.
“My teammates set me up in position to score the ball,” Taylor said. “… That’s just my role on this team, to be a spark coming off the bench.”
D.J. Cooper, who finished with eight assists, found T.J. Hall for a layup at the buzzer and a 34-18 advantage at halftime.
The lead never dropped below 14 points in the second half. It ballooned to 20 on baskets by Offutt and Keely to open the second half. Later, a Cooper 3-pointer made it 46-25 with 15:29 remaining.
The Bobcats reached their biggest advantage, 67-44, on a Taylor steal and assist to Ricardo Johnson for a dunk at the 5:06 mark.
“The second half, we were much more smooth on offense,” Groce said. “We got out in transition. We finished well and obviously shot a high percentage.”
The Bulldogs, who came in making 49 percent of their shots, went just 5 of 23 (21.7 percent) in the first half and still did not reach their average in the second half, connecting on 13 of 30 (43.3 percent).
UNC Asheville had 24 turnovers in the game, but was effective on the offensive glass, reeling in 16 boards on that end despite being at a size disadvantage. Atkinson had seven rebounds.
Ohio had 23 turnovers and finished even with its opponent on the boards at 32 each. Ivo Baltic, who did not score, had a team-high seven rebounds.
The Bobcats had advantages of 38-26 in points in the paint, 33-24 in points off turnovers and 20-8 in fast-break points.
“It starts with our defense, there’s no doubt about that,” Groce said. “That’s who we are, and I like who we are.”
TyQuane Goard had one of his best performances of the year for Ohio, scoring seven points and grabbing six rebounds in 17 minutes.
Back to Mid-American Conference play, Ohio travels to Buffalo for a 7 p.m. game Wednesday.
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