Men’s basketball: Ohio starts conference play at Bowling Green

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On the brink of the Top 25, Ohio suffered a disappointing defeat in the Convocation Center to Robert Morris on Monday.

With the loss, Ohio (12-2) ties the 1939-40 and 1920-21 Bobcat basketball teams for the best start in school history. Ohio will look to bounce back on the road Saturday at Bowling Green.  

The ‘Cats are looking at the beginning of conference play as a new season.

“This is the start of season two, and right now everybody’s even,” Ohio forward Ivo Baltic said. “We’re just trying to get that first win, and keep moving forward.”

A win won’t come easy for Ohio in what will be both teams’ first MAC game. History is not on the ‘Cats side. Ohio had lost its last four games at Anderson Arena on the campus of Bowling Green and are 2-5 against BGSU under head coach John Groce.

However, this time around the Falcons will play host to the Bobcats in the new state-of-the-art Stroh Center. Maybe a new arena on the Falcons campus is just what the ‘Cats need to end the drought.

Although BGSU is a game below .500 at 6-7, the Falcons have played some tough competition out of conference including Michigan State and Georgia. These games have surely prepared the Falcons for the conference grind.

Bowling Green will have a chip on its shoulder after being picked last in the MAC preseason coaches’ poll. Surely, the Falcons will come hungry for a win at the Stroh Center where they have an impressive 5-1 record this season, including a win over Temple.

“They’re good at stealing the ball; they’ve got active hands,” Ohio head coach John Groce said of BGSU. “So offensively, my concern is our ability to take care of the basketball.”

If Ohio can take care of the ball as well as it did against Robert Morris they should have a significant advantage. The ‘Cats turned the Colonials over 31 times, while only turning the ball over 13 times themselves.

Ohio will definitely need to improve shot selection. Against the Colonials, Ohio shot a woeful 30 percent from the field, and 3-26 from 3-point land.

With "Season Two" starting, if you will, Ohio hopes to open on a high note.

“We were able to dig ourselves out of a hole and play some pretty good basketball late the last two years,” Groce said. “We want to get off to a better start, and that’s important to us.”

With MAC play starting up, let the conference grind begin.