Published Sat, Dec 29, 2012 11:00 pm Dateline
As snow blanketed the Athens region, Ohio brought the icy cold with it on the road, losing to Oklahoma 74-63. Despite precipitation at home, the Bobcats (8-5) are in the midst of intense drought away from the Convocation Center. With the loss, Ohio has lost all four of its road games so far this season.
Ohio’s game followed the trend of previous road games this season, the Bobcats hanging tough for a half and change only to fall victim to scoring runs in the second half. After carrying a tie score into halftime, the Sooners cranked up the offense in the second half.
Ohio got out to an early lead, keeping the Sooners (8-3) at bay. Reggie Keely earned the first four points for the Bobcats with a pair of buckets in the lane. Keely finished with 13 points—second most for Ohio—and eight rebounds.
Nick Kellogg quickly followed with a three-point basket to give Ohio a five-point lead. The Bobcats kept their three-point game alive throughout the first nine minutes of the game, hitting on three of five attempts.
Ohio took a drastic plunge from behind the arc to finish the first half. In the final 11 minutes, Ohio had missed all seven of its attempts from three before Stevie Taylor dropped one from the corner to put Ohio down 25-24. Ricardo Johnson chased that bucket by muscling up a layup in the paint to give the Bobcats the lead, but the referees called a technical foul on Johnson for a small altercation after the bucket.
Oklahoma’s Steven Pledger, who led all scorers with 18, sank both free throws to put the Sooners back on top. An Ivo Baltic foul then put Romero Osby at the line where he drained a pair of free throws. The Sooners’ four-point swing was fueled by Ohio fouls, frustrating head coach Jim Christian. Oklahoma made 12 more free throws than the Bobcats on 16 more attempts, which could have been the difference in the game.
Baltic ended the half, however, by draining a three to tie the Bobcats and Sooners at 29 entering the halftime break.
The second half picked right up where the teams left off in the first. Keely fouled Osby, where the forward sank a couple of free throws to open up a Sooner lead, which they never surrendered for the remainder of the game.
Keely put the Bobcats on the board in the second half with a layup plus a foul shot. Oklahoma immediately responded with its first three-pointer of the game by Buddy Hield. Thus began an 8-0 run by the Sooners, digging Ohio into a deep hole.
Jon Smith hit a layup to break the Bobcats’ scoreless streak, but Pledger went on the offensive, scoring the Sooners’ next nine points. The run gave Oklahoma a 54-43 lead with less than eleven minutes remaining in the game.
The Bobcats answered with five consecutive points. Walter Offutt drained a three and a steal by Smith broke D.J. Cooper for a layup two possessions later. A dunk by Smith brought the Bobcats within four with just less than seven minutes to play.
The rest of the Sooners, however, soon joined Pledger’s offensive party. Cameron Clark sparked an Oklahoma run with a jam on an Ohio turnover. The Sooners outscored the Bobcats 15-2 in the next four minutes to open up a 15-point lead, after which Ohio never moved closer than 11.
The two teams nearly matched each other from the field, Ohio shooting 25-53 and Oklahoma 27-57. The difference came, however, at the stripe, as mentioned. The Bobcats shot seven free throws to the Sooners’ 23.
No matter the cause for Ohio’s struggles on the road, it’s something Christian hopes to adjust before the season starts to run away from he and his club.
The Bobcats look to restore such confidence when they return home to the Convo Saturday, Jan. 5 to take on Marshall. Ohio’s next road contest is a conference battle with Western Michigan on Jan. 12.