Instant Reaction: Bobcats Down Hawks 93-57

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After dropping four of five contests, including a game against Winthrop that served as the first home loss in 348 days, Ohio Men’s Basketball reestablished its dominance in a 93-57 shellacking of Maryland Eastern Shore on Saturday. With the win Ohio advances to 8-4 and rights the ship one week before a non-conference tilt with Big-12 opponent Oklahoma on Dec. 29.

Shake Up the Starters:

Ohio head coach Jim Christian opted to shake up the starting five for the first time all season Saturday, going with Ricardo Johnson and Reggie Keely in the frontcourt over Jon Smith and Ivo Baltic. Johnson took advantage of the opportunity right out the gate, nailing just his second three-point shot of the season on Ohio’s first possession of the game. The junior’s energy got the better of him, however, as Johnson would pick up two fouls in the game’s first three minutes to return to his spot on the bench.

The move turned out to be a bit of a wake-up call for Baltic, who started the game perfect form the field. Baltic hit five of five shots in the first half for an early 10 points. Johnson finished with just three points and fouled out in nine minutes.

51 in the First:

At the 16:05 mark, Maryland Eastern Shore’s Louis Bell hit a three-point shot to give the Hawks a 10-9 lead. Eight minutes later, Bell hit another three to cut an Ohio lead to 29-17. The Bobcats went on a 20-4 run during those eight minutes, on their way to a 51-point half, the highest scoring half this season for Ohio.

In the first 20 minutes, the Bobcats shot 65 percent from the field and scored 23 points off 16 UMES turnovers. Ohio also got 30 points from the bench in the first half as Travis Wilkins led the Bobcats with 11 to go with Baltic’s 10.

Smooth Sailing in the Second:

The Bobcats cruised to victory in the second half, outscoring Maryland Eastern Shore 42-25 in the frame. Ohio outmuscled the Hawks down low after the intermission with 28 points in the paint and 23 rebounds to UMES’ 11. The Bobcats also got another 24 bench points in the second half.

Balanced Attack:

Six Ohio players finished in double figures Saturday. Walter Offutt led the Bobcats with 15 points and Wilkins finished with 14. Baltic and Keely each contributed 12 while Smith and fellow frontcourt bruiser Kadeem Green each scored 10. Of the 13 Bobcats who saw the floor, only Nick Goff and Nick Kellogg went without a bucket.

Record Watch:

Ohio point guard D.J. Cooper recorded nine assists in the first half, raising questions about the potential of eclipsing the school record for assists in a game, set by Dennis Whitaker in 1988. Cooper accumulated another five assists in the second half before coming out of the game for good with 14 at the 5:51 mark, two shy of the Ohio record and one shy of his own career high of 15 in last season’s loss to Akron. Ohio did tie the team record for assists in a game with 29.