Men's basketball: It's "gut-check time" for Ohio

By
George Peck

Dateline
Updated Tue, Jan 10, 2012 7:16 pm
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Photo Credit: 
Ryan Young
Ohio's Nick Kellogg elevates for a lay-up against Marietta College at the Convocation Center. The Bobcats won by 34.

For the first time this season, the Ohio Bobcats have hit a wall. After starting the season 12-1, the Bobcats have dropped two straight. Ohio fell to Robert Morris at home, before losing its MAC opener at Bowling Green, a town where Ohio has consistently struggled.

With “Season two” now underway in the form of conference play, Ohio simply cannot afford to continue its losing skid. The MAC schedule in the coming weeks is not showing the ‘Cats any mercy.

Ohio hosts Buffalo Wednesday before traveling to Akron. The following week Ohio hosts Kent State and its bitter rival, the Miami Redhawks.

One positive is that three of the next four games for the ‘Cats will be played at home. The ‘Cats will need to take advantage of this stretch of home games, as road victories are so hard to come by.

“When you look at conferences races year in and year out,” Ohio head coach John Groce said. “The teams that do the best are the ones that can grind out a few road wins, and can do a good job of dominating or holding serve at home.”

The two-game skid can largely be attributed to shooting. As simple as it sounds, Ohio has not found the bottom of the net, and its opponents have. Ohio has gone 7-46 from 3-point range in its last couple of games.

The last two games have also seen Ohio shoot under 40 percent from the field, while its opponents have shot over 50.

Shooting is a concern, but Groce is emphasizing, “Defense and rebounding because those are things you can control more than you can making shots.”
 
Needless to say, it is crucial that Ohio can string together some wins in the coming weeks. With MAC championship aspirations, Ohio does not want to dig itself too deep a hole to climb out of.

“Teams are going to bring their A-game against us every game this year,” guard D.J. Cooper said. “We just need to step it up and play hard defense like we did in the beginning of the season.”
 
Ohio will look to get back to its winning ways Wednesday in the Convocation Center when it hosts Buffalo.


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