Updated Thu, Feb 14, 2013 9:25 am
Ohio entered halftime Wednesday night only up four on Central Michigan (9-15, 2-9 MAC), but the Bobcats (18-6, 9-1 MAC) came out in the second half firing and pulled away to an 82-63 road victory.
It was all Walter Offutt for the Bobcats in the early going, as the redshirt senior hit his first five shots, three from beyond the arc. He entered halftime with 13 points and seven rebounds. It was the third straight game for Offutt to score in double-digits, who’s averaging 15.3 points during that stretch.
With Offutt’s strong play and Reggie Keely’s scoring (12 points in the first half), Ohio was holding onto a slim 35-31 lead at half. It was a different story for the two leading scorers in the second half, though.
Both Offutt and Nick Kellogg each picked up their third foul early in the second half, sending them to the bench and Ohio coach Jim Christian looking for a player to replace their scoring.
That's when Ricardo Johnson stepped up.
After going 0-for-2 in the first half, Johnson scored an efficient nine points in the second, going 3-of-3 from the field and 2-of-2 from three. Behind Johnson’s scoring, the Bobcats had built an 11-point lead with 13 minutes remaining.
The second half turnaround by the Bobcats was key for Christian’s squad. They hit seven of their 12 three-point attempts in the second half and bounced back from their 35-point first half to score 47 in the second. They did so without their first half scorers providing much on the offensive end. After scoring 25 points in the first, Offutt and Keely combined for just six.
Central Michigan’s Kyle Randall had one of his best games of the season and was a major reason for the close game in the first half. After scoring 15 points in the first, the 5-foot-10 guard attacked the hole and was getting to the line. He knocked down 10 of his 13 free throw attempts in the game and finished the game with 28 points.
The Chippewas had a strong showing from their senior, but the remaining 11 that saw playing time didn’t perform as well. Any player not named Randall shot a combined 14-of-37 from the field and 2-of-15 from three. Randall, on the other hand, was 8-of-18 and 2-of-6, respectively.
Central Michigan guard Chris Fowler was their second leading scorer with 10 points, while dishing out seven assists. The freshman’s numbers outmatched his opponent, D.J. Cooper’s.
The Ohio guard finished the night with eight points and three assists. His assist numbers were down due to a number of misses on his teammates’ part, but the senior was able to move up to 18th all-time with 877 career assists. He’s now eight assists from breaking the top 15 in NCAA history.
With his 14 points against Central Michigan, Keely is now averaging 14.3 points as a starter for the Bobcats. He’s also two points away from becoming the 35th player in Ohio history with 1,000 career points.
The Bobcats will look to improve their winning streak it four in a row on Saturday, Feb. 16, as Kent State comes to Athens. Ohio took the last matchup with the Golden Flashes in a 69-68 thriller. Tipoff is at 11 a.m. in the Convocation Center.