Updated Wed, Feb 5, 2014 4:56 pm
Since starting Mid-American Conference play 3-1, Ohio (8-12, 3-6) finds itself in the midst of a five-game losing streak and desperate the pick up a win. The search for conference win number four will take the ‘Cats to Alumni Arena to face MAC East foe Buffalo (12-8, 5-4).
Since dropping their first three conference matchups, the Bulls have picked up wins in five of their previous six matchups. Buffalo has displayed the ability to finish out close games with all six of the previous matchups being decided by nine points or less.
The friendly confines of Alumni Area have also treated the Bulls well. The third-place squad has posted a 6-2 record at home and is averaging 72.62 points per game, 11.37 more than games away from Buffalo.
Overall, Buffalo creates open looks all over the floor, especially for forward Kristen Sharkey and guard Mackenzie Loesing. The dynamic duo has averaged a combined 32.2 points with Sharkey averaging a sliver under 10 boards per game. The good news for the ‘Cats is if they manage to take away either scoring threat, the next highest scorer, Margeaux Guplian, only averages 7.8 points per contest.
The turnover battle will as crucial as ever. Though Buffalo turns the ball over just under 19 times per game, they force just as many turnovers. Ohio has shown the ability to create transition opportunities off guard-produced turnovers, but turnovers have also doomed the ‘Cats in the second halves of several conference games.
Should each team’s turnover rate remain average, the game could come down to hot shooting from beyond the arc. Both teams are allowing opponents to make at least 33 percent of their 3-point attempts. Though the ‘Cats only shoot 1.2 percent better from downtown than Buffalo, they have also put up 129 more 3-point attempts than the Bulls.
This is in part due to Ohio trailing in recent games, but another hot shooting performance could break the losing streak.
Head coach Bob Boldon applauded his team’s effort against the conference’s top teams, but said that consistent play on both ends will result in closing out the end of games and could lead to a win in Buffalo.