Updated Tue, Dec 17, 2013 11:03 am
The Ohio men’s basketball team (7-2) will face its toughest test of an already difficult home nonconference schedule Wednesday when the No. 22 Massachusetts Minutemen (9-0) travel to the Convo.
The Minutemen boast an impressive body of work this season. They defeated an 8-4 BYU Cougars squad 105-96. The most impressive performance for UMass came when the team won the 2013 Charleston Classic.
The Minutemen defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 96-90 in the opening round of the tournament. Then UMass advanced to take on the New Mexico Lobos, who were ranked 19th when the two teams met. UMass handled New Mexico, though, defeating the Lobos 81-65. In the championship game, UMass disposed of Clemson 62-56.
The Minutemen are the highest ranked opponent to play at the Convo since 1997 when a No. 6 ranked Kentucky team faced Ohio. One of the keys for the Bobcats will be containing guard Chaz Williams, who averages 16.9 points and 7.6 assists per game. Williams is legitimate threat from 3-point range as he is shooting 44.4 percent from deep.
Even if Ohio can contain Williams, it will still have to contend with UMass’ second leading scorer, Cady Lalane. The 6-foot-10 forward posts 15.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. The entire Minutemen squad is efficient. The team is ranked in the top 50 nationally in scoring (25th) with 84.0 points a game and assists (27th) with 16.3 assists per contest.
Ohio enters the game fresh off a 72-47 defeat of Alabama A&M. Ohio shot the ball well in that game, going 24-of-48 from the floor. This is a good sign as a poor shooting performance was the downfall of the Bobcats against Oakland. Ohio will need to have a similar shooting performance against UMass to defeat the Minutemen.
Forward Maurice Ndour led the way for Ohio against Alabama A&M with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks. Ohio also received some nice production off its bench, as T.J. Hall and Javarez “Bean” Willis each scored 12 points. The entire bench played well, as it contributed 40 points in the win for Ohio.
Ohio and UMass will tip off at 7 p.m. Wednesday night in the Convo.