Preview: A-10 Champs Visit Athens, Ohio Faces First Road Test

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Fresh off a 25-point victory over Richmond Spiders Saturday, Ohio men’s basketball is rolling. The ‘Cats are 5-0 for the first time in 43 seasons and are climbing in the polls, including a jump up to the third spot in the latest College Insider Mid-Major Top 25 poll. The Jim Christian era is off to a fast start and the Bobcats look to continue their run this week against two worthy competitors in St. Bonaventure at home and Robert Morris on the road.

St. Bonaventure has worked its way back from a scandal that rocked the men’s basketball program a few years back, winning the 2011-12 Atlantic-10 Conference tournament before losing to No. 3 seed Florida State in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament. The Bonnies are currently 3-1 on the season, winning by a combined margin of just six points per game. Ohio welcomes the Bonnies to the Convocation Center Wednesday at 7 p.m.

St. Bonaventure’s Players to Watch:

St. Bonaventure is led by a pair of talented seniors in 6-foot 6-inch forward Demetrius Conger and 6-foot 5-inch wingman Chris Johnson. Johnson is coming off back-to-back games in which he scored 19 points. Conger also put up huge numbers in the Bonnies’ 80-75 victory over Niagara last Saturday when he amassed 18 points and 10 rebounds. Both are highly athletic and have an innate ability to score the basket. Johnson will likely give Ohio guard Walter Offutt some trouble while Ohio’s big men have their hands full keeping Conger from crashing the boards.

St. Bonaventure’s Key Statistic:

St. Bonaventure also has two 7-footers in Youssou Ndoye and Matthias Runs, and are currently ranked 146th in the nation in rebounding with 36.3 boards per game –142 spots ahead of Ohio. The ‘Cats will have to hold their own on the boards Wednesday night against a much taller team if they want to continue their success.

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After Wednesday’s game Ohio will have its first road test of the season Saturday at 7 p.m. when the Bobcats hit the road to face Robert Morris. The Colonials beat Ohio 70-67 last season and finished with a 26-11 record. The team has gotten off to a slow start so far this season, however, and is currently 3-4 on the season.

Robert Morris’ Players to Watch:

Senior guard Velton Jones is averaging 13 points and 5.4 assists per game this season. Jones burned Ohio last year in the Colonials’ victory, putting up 17 points to go along with six assists and two steals. The key to Ohio’s chances at victory Saturday will come down to controlling Jones and limit 6-foot 5-inch wingman Lucky Jones (the two are not related) who is adding 10.4 points and 6.1 rebounds a game for Robert Morris.

Robert Morris’ Key Statistic:

The Colonials are currently averaging just 63 points per game and have been outscored an average of 16.25 points a game in their four losses this season. Despite the poor scoring margin, Robert Morris won games against Bowling Green and Cleveland State at home and lost to Xavier by just two points on the road. This is the ‘Cats’ first road game after six home games to start the season. Ohio needs to get off to a hot start early in the game, something the team has struggled with this season, in order to keep the Colonials from making this a game.