Memphis Throttles Ohio With Defense, Fastbreak

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The duo of junior wing Geron Johnson and freshman big Shaq Goodwin was too much for Ohio as Memphis ran the Bobcats out of the FedEx Forum by a count of 84-58 on Wednesday night.

The loss is the second straight such result for Ohio, which falls to 6-2, and 0-2 on the road this season.

“This is where we’re at this week, we had an awful week, and we’ve got to get better, and get better next week,” said Ohio head coach Jim Christian after the defeat, which left him still one win shy of his 200th career victory. “There’s a lot of basketball to be played and we’ve got to play better.”

Ohio came out the gate with more energy than it did a week ago at Robert Morris, though the start was still less than ideal for the Bobcats.

Jon Smith scored the first points of the game after a minute and a half of sloppy play on both sides. Ohio missed its first four shots and did not convert a field goal until the 16:15 mark.

Memphis fared worse from the field, failing to convert on its first eight jumpers.

Ohio made a small living in the first half on the three-point shot, despite three-point field goal leader Nick Kellogg spending most of the half on the bench with two fouls.

Two early three pointers from T.J. Hall and Walter Offutt gave Ohio an 8-2 lead at the 15-minute mark. But a 9-2 run by Memphis, highlighted by back-to-back dunks that served as the Tigers’ first two field goals, would eliminate the deficit and give Memphis its first lead of the game. The Tigers were on top 11-10 at the under-12 minute stoppage.

The momentum returned briefly to Ohio’s favor in the following segment as D.J. Cooper hit another two threes in three possessions to put Ohio up 18-14.

Two free throws by Reggie Keely then put the Bobcats up 20-16 fresh out the under-8 minute timeout. But that was the last time Ohio would enjoy the lead, as a 13-0 run put the Tigers ahead 29-20 through the 4-minute mark.

Memphis took a 36-28 lead into the locker room.

“When it was 20-16, I though we had played really solid up to that point,” said Christian. “We played really smart and followed our game plan very well. We didn’t make shots, but that’s fine. And then we just started turning the ball over.”

The Tigers’ defensive pressure coupled with its up-tempo offense gave Ohio a lot of trouble early. Memphis scored 12 fastbreak points and 13 points off 9 Ohio turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

“When you turn the ball over, a live turnover, it’s hard to get back, and we took some questionable shots, we slipped a lot of layups. Anybody can be athletic if that’s happening,” said Christian.

The Tigers’ size advantage also gave Ohio trouble in the first half. Memphis outrebounded the Bobcats 21-14 in the first frame with nine second-chance points off seven offensive boards.

Johnson and Goodwin scored a combined 20 points in the first half for Memphis.

The Tigers continued to run in the second, scoring 27 points in the first 10 minutes of the half.

Ohio kept pace for a while, until a jumper by Memphis forward Adonis Thomas at 13:47 ignited a 10-2 run, capped by back-to-back Geron Johnson threes, that extended Memphis’ lead to 63-44.

Memphis finished with 48 second-half points to Ohio’s 30 on the way to victory. The Tigers totaled 22 fastbreak points on the night to just 2 for Ohio. Memphis also outrebounded the Bobcats 38-27 with 17 second-chance points and scored 23 points off 17 Ohio turnovers.

Wednesday was the first time this season Ohio failed to force double-digit turnovers (9) or lost the turnover battle.

Johnson ended the game with 21 points off the bench on 8-of-11 shooting for Memphis. Goodwin totaled 20 points and nine rebounds on 6-of-8 shooting.

Cooper lead Ohio with 19 points and four assists but also five turnovers. Smith added 12 points and seven rebounds in just 21 minutes of action.

Ohio will attempt to break its losing streak in an important game home Saturday, when it returns to the Convo to take on Oakland.

“Every game is going to be big,” said Christian. “But you got to keep trying to get better, and we will. We’ll get back to it and try to get better for Saturday.”

The Bobcats defeated Oakland in Michigan 84-82 a season ago. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.