Updated Fri, Jan 31, 2014 8:48 pm
Ohio will face its toughest test of the season Saturday when the Toledo Rockets (18-2, 6-1) come to the Convo.
The Rockets currently sport the best record in the MAC, and the play of their guards is a big reason for that. Justin Drummond, Julius Brown and Rian Pearson all average about 14 points a game. Brown, the team’s starting point guard, has been particularly impressive this season, as he is the team’s main distributor with nearly seven assists per contest as well. Pearson and Drummond also do a good job on the boards, averaging about five rebounds per contest.
Ohio will have its work cut out for it on the defensive end, as Toledo ranks in the top 20 in the nation in both points per game and field goal percentage. The Rockets score about 83 points per game, and they do it efficiently. As a team, they shoot nearly 49 percent from the field.
Last time out, Toledo beat Miami 83-70. The Rockets characteristically shot well from the field, going 33-of-60 from the floor in the game. Justin Drummond led the way for the Rockets with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Toledo began the second half on a 17-5 run to pull away from the RedHawks.
Facing a high scoring and up tempo team will be a change of pace for the Bobcats, whose last three opponents made a concerted effort to slow the game down. Both Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan used a 2-3 zone against the ‘Cats, and Central Michigan showed Ohio a zone press, which proved to be extremely effective.
Ohio turned the ball over 16 times in its come-from-behind 71-67 win over Central Michigan. The Chippewas built an 18-point lead, thanks to the aggressiveness of their defense and Ohio’s struggles against it. The Bobcats threw several lazy passes that were easily stolen by Chippewa defenders.
It also didn’t help that Ohio only went 9-for-23 from the field and 1-for-9 from 3-point range in the first half. Ohio’s tendency to get off to slow starts is becoming a serious concern. It took double-digit comebacks in the second half in each of their last two games for the Bobcats to come away with wins.
Ohio cannot afford to start slow against Toledo. The Rockets are good enough to bury a team when they have it down. Ohio was able to come back in its last two games because Eastern and Central Michigan both struggle on the offensive side of the ball. Toledo, though, has no problem scoring, so it is absolutely vital that Ohio plays a full 40 minutes against the Rockets.
The Bobcats and the Rockets will square off at 1 p.m. in the Convo Saturday.