Updated Tue, Dec 4, 2012 7:45 pm
Following a dismal loss to Robert Morris last Saturday, the Ohio Bobcats will look to bounce back this week, as they travel to the FedExForum to play the Memphis Tigers on Wednesday and return to the Convocation Center to face the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Saturday.
Preview: Ohio Bobcats (6-1, 0-0 MAC) at Memphis Tigers (4-2, 0-0 C-USA)
The Tigers, considered the marquee game of the year for the Bobcats, were ranked in the Preseason Top 25 AP Poll. They feature a team loaded with athleticism that will be difficult for the Bobcats to contain.
Memphis has struggled, though. After getting upset in two straight days in November by VCU and Minnesota, the Tigers dropped out of the top 25 and are now 4-2 overall. During this rough patch, they have given up 65.3 points a game – 158th in the nation – and have scored 71.8 points a game, which is 120th in the nation.
Nonetheless, this will be a battle for Ohio, who’s coming off their first loss of the season. After allowing 84 points to Robert Morris, the Bobcats are looking to return to their lethal man-to-man defense that is 50th in the nation, with only 58.9 points allowed per game.
Ohio was averaging 12.2 steals a game before Robert Morris. Against the Colonials, they only managed to record six steals. Memphis is currently tied for 155th in the nation with 13.8 turnovers a game. If Ohio can force the Tigers to turn the ball over and push the ball in transition, they should control the pace of the game, which will be important, as Memphis features some players that will pose matchup problems for Ohio.
Adonis Thomas, a top 10 recruit a season ago, returned to Memphis and has been the leading scorer with 12.5 points a game this season. The 6-foot-7 forward is not known for his shooting ability – 2-of-18 from three this year – but oozes with athleticism that will be difficult to stop.
The Bobcats will be forced to have one of their guards, most likely Walter Offutt, on Thomas, which will give the Memphis forward a minimum two-inch advantage.
Mentally, Memphis has struggled to accept the two straight losses in the early part of the season. Big man Tarik Black took a game off against Tennessee-Martin because he was frustrated with the team’s slow start, but has chosen to come back. His first game back will be against the Bobcats.
Including Black, the Tigers have two 6-foot-9 players that will be a force for Ohio’s Ivo Baltic and Jon Smith down low. Freshman Shaq Goodwin, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound power forward, struggled in his first couple games, but had 17 points and 12 rebounds last game without Black.
Preview: Oakland Golden Grizzlies (2-6, 0-0 Summit) at Ohio Bobcats (6-1, 0-0 MAC)
After facing considerably their toughest road trip of the season, Ohio will return home to face the Golden Grizzlies, whom have struggled without graduate Reggie Hamilton, the nation’s leading scorer last season with 26.2 ppg.
Hamilton’s absence left a huge scoring void for Head Coach Greg Kampe. Without that scoring option, Oakland turned to junior Travis Bader, a sharpshooter with 218 three-pointers in his first two years. He has started off strong, averaging 17.4 points this season.
The Golden Grizzlies have relied on Bader to be their scorer. When the junior guard gets the ball, his teammates are unlikely to get it back, as he has averaged 14.8 attempts this season – the most in his career – and only 0.8 assists a game.
This reliance on Bader is also a reason for his decline in shooting percentage. After shooting 43.1% from the field his first two seasons, he has dropped to 33.9% this year.
Behind Bader, Duke Mondy and Corey Petros are the next scoring options for Oakland. The three have combined for nearly two-thirds of the team’s scoring this season.
Mondy, a transfer guard from Providence, is playing in his first season with Oakland and has averaged 15.0 points while shooting 41.9% from the field. He leads the team with 3.9 assists a game.
Petros will test Smith down low, as the 6-foot-10, 245-pound center has averaged 14.4 points and 7.4 rebounds this season. As long as Petros stays out of foul trouble, he can contribute greatly to the Golden Grizzlies. Against Michigan State, he had 14 points and nine rebounds (three offensive).
Oakland has been outscored 604-562 this season and 473-395 in their six losses.
Wednesday’s game will tip off at 7 p.m. at the FedExForum. It’ll also be shown on the CBS Sports Network.
The Bobcats come back home Saturday for Oakland. Tipoff will be at 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center.