Preview: Ohio Looks To Bounce Back From Winthrop Loss

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Ohio (7-3, 0-0 MAC) suffered a 50-49 loss last Saturday against Winthrop in a poor shooting performance from their starting lineup. The upset snapped Ohio’s 16-game winning streak at home dating back to last season.

The Bobcats are looking to bounce back this week, as they travel to Massachusetts (5-3, 0-0 A 10) and come back home to face Maryland-Eastern Shore (0-10, 0-1 MEAC) in the Convocation Center. The task will not be simple, though.

When Ohio enters the William D. Mullins Center Wednesday night, they’ll be facing a strong Minutemen team that crashes the boards. Through eight games, UMass is ranked 52nd in the nation in rebounds with 39.1 per game.

The evident Ohio weakness this season has been their inability to pull down rebounds, ranked 316th in the nation with 31.0 a game.

To make matters worse for the Bobcats, Massachusetts returned Cady Lalanne last game to add to their already dominant big men down low. The 6-foot-9 forward served a 12-day suspension for being arrested at an on-campus function where he had altercations with UMass officers.

Before his suspension, Lalanne was averaging 5.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a game. Against Harvard, he compiled nine points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. In his first game back against Elon on Dec. 15, he played 12 minutes, where he had six points and six rebounds.

The team had 47 rebounds in that overtime victory. Point guard Chaz Williams finished the game with 20 points, nine assists and four boards.

Williams, a 5-foot-9 guard, has led the charge for the Minutemen this season, averaging 16.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists a game. The junior hardly ever sees a minute on the bench. In 39 minutes against Siena, he scored 23 points to go along with eight rebounds and six assists.

It’s rare to have a small, quick point guard average 5.0 rebounds a game. On Ohio’s roster, only one player averages above five boards a game (Ivo Baltic with 5.3). Six of Massachusetts’ players average five-plus rebounds a game.

Crashing the boards will be key for Ohio, as UMass doesn’t shoot a high percentage from the floor. They rank 301st in the nation with a field goal percentage of 39.4%. From behind the arc, they’re shooting 28.2% this year.

Adding to their horrific shooting percentage is junior Jesse Morgan. The 6’5” guard can score, averaging 13.8 points per game, but has to take several shots to reach that level. He has shot 34.2% from the field and 31.7% from three this season, and shoots in bunches. He averages 14.3 shots a game, 7.9 of them from three.

To compare, D.J. Cooper leads Ohio with 11.2 shots per game.

Another scoring option the Minutemen use quite often is Terrell Vinson. The 6’7” senior is averaging 13.3 points and 5.5 rebounds this season. He has scored in double-digits six of his eight games and had 22 points against Elon. He’s an inside-outside threat that will be a difficult guard for the Bobcats.

UMass has other strong options that they go to in the paint other than Lalanne. Sampson Carter filled into the starting lineup during Lalanne’s suspension and is averaging 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds this season. The 6-foot-8 forward teamed up with Raphiael Putney, a 6’9”, 185-pound forward, to be dominant down low. Putney is averaging 7.1 points and 5.9 rebounds.

The Bobcats will return to the Convocation Center Saturday, hoping to reignite their winning ways at home against Maryland-Eastern Shore. The Eagles are currently on a 13-game losing streak following their 84-50 loss to Connecticut Monday.

They feature a young roster with five freshman and only two seniors, but have received solid contributions from Kyree Jones this season at the guard position. This is the sophomore’s first season playing with the Eagles after transferring from Northern Illinois.

Jones is averaging 16.6 points a game and has been on fire lately. The 6-foot-2 guard didn’t play against Connecticut due to back soreness, but in his three previous games, he averaged 24.3 points and shot 51.1% from the field.

Jones played only four games his freshman year at Northern Illinois because a back injury. There is no official word on his current injury status, but it is expected he’ll play against Ohio.

Jones and Troy Snyder have combined for nearly half of the Eagles’ scoring this season. Snyder has averaged 12.1 points and 6.4 rebounds a game. The 6-foot-6 forward had 19 points and nine rebounds against Maryland and is shooting 34.0% from the field this season.

After those two, though, the scoring drops dramatically for Maryland-Eastern Shore. They are averaging 57.1 points a game, which is 330th in the nation. Their shooting percentage is even worse. Their team average of 34.0% is ranked 346th. They are also among the worst in the rebound (314th) and assist (329th) categories.

Wednesday’s game against Massachusetts is set to tipoff at 7:30 p.m. in the William D. Mullins Center. The Bobcats will fly home for their 2 p.m. game Saturday at the Convocation Center against Maryland-Eastern Shore.