Instant Reaction: Ohio Defeats Northern Illinois 81-63

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Ohio (12-5, 3-0 MAC) added another win to their perfect 3-0 MAC record by defeating Northern Illinois (3-15, 1-2 MAC) 81–63 in the Convocation Center Wednesday night.

The run: Ohio’s start to the game gave indication to a long first half for Jim Christian’s crew – down 12-9 at one point – but that quickly changed when Ricardo Johnson and Stevie Taylor helped build a little run, which eventually turned into a huge turnaround to the game.

The Bobcats were trailing with 11:25 remaining in the half when Johnson hit a pair of free throws, followed by a huge three from Taylor. Taylor finished the half with eight points, as the Bobcats went on a 36-6 run to head into the locker room up 45-18.

Walter Offutt was the leading scorer, hitting a pair of threes during the run and going 5-for-5 from field. The senior finished with 19 points in the game.

D.J. Cooper moved up in the NCAA Division I career assists list in the first half, tallying six assists. He finished the game with eight, putting him at 832 in his career. As a team, Northern Illinois finished with three less assists than Cooper with five.

Slick Ric the Ruler: From the moment Johnson entered the game, he immediately attacked the rim. The 6-foot-5 forward finished the game with nine points, three assists and three steals. Johnson’s first two free throws sparked the 36-6 run and didn’t stop there.

Defensively and offensively, he was the turnaround for Ohio, who started the game lethargic on defense, making slow rotations and giving Northern Illinois easy buckets.

Raining threes: During the run, Ohio made six threes, two each coming from Offutt and Taylor. Seven different Ohio players hit a shot beyond the arc including Travis Wilkins, who played in his second game back from the ankle injury.

Ohio shot 44% from three for the game and were 7-of-11 from deep in the first half. Offutt, Taylor and Cooper each hit multiple threes for the game.

Offutt on momentum: “I just think we’re a veteran team. Coach Christian preaches doing your job out there on the court, and I think for the most part everybody takes that to their head and do that. As long as we do that and again, we rebound the ball like we know we can, the sky is the limit for this team.”

Next up: The Ohio Bobcats will look to stay undefeated in MAC play, as they take on the Toledo Rockets at home on Saturday at 6 p.m.