Battle Of The Bricks Takes To Cleveland

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It’s difficult to beat the same team three times in one season, especially when you are playing a team for the second time in less than a week. However, that is what Ohio looks to do when it faces Miami in the second round of the MAC Tournament on Wednesday.

The Bobcats advanced to the second round by defeating Ball State 76-64 Monday. Ohio used a blazing start to build an early lead and never looked back. Ohio bolted out to a 25-4 lead thanks to tough post defense and hot shooting.

The Bobcats sent Travis Wilkins to double down on Ball State center Majok Majok to force the 6-foot-11 Majok to give the ball up. Luckily for Ohio, Majok was a slow decision maker, which allowed Bobcat defenders to play the passing lanes for steals and force Ball State into difficult shots.

Offensively, Ohio moved the ball crisply, keeping the defense moving. With the defense constantly rotating, Ohio found plenty of open shots, and it had no problem knocking down those open looks. Ohio made 13 of its first 17 attempts from the field and 7 of its first 10 attempts from 3-point range.

Ball State eventually closed the gap to as close as 62-52 in the second half, but a quick 7-0 run featuring a Nick Kellogg 3-pointer and a double pump, two-handed slam from Jon Smith pushed Ohio’s lead to 69-52.

Ohio never looked back after that point.

Nick Kellogg led the team with 17 points, and Antonio Campbell and Javarez “Bean” Willis each scored in double figures for the third straight game. Campbell had 12 points and Willis finished with 15.

Miami punched its ticket to Cleveland by defeating Kent State 71-64 Monday night. The RedHawks iced the close victory over the Golden Flashes with two late Quinten Rollins baskets and four free throws. Rollins finished with 13 points in the game. Willie Moore led Miami with 17 points.

Moore was a problem for Ohio in its overtime victory over Miami Saturday, scoring 24 points.  With Moore playing well in addition to the steady Will Felder, Ohio must make competing from the jump a priority.

Few teams play harder and more aggressively than Miami, and given the level of familiarity between these two teams, Ohio cannot afford to have mental lapses. In the Bobcats’ last game against Miami they turned the ball over 19 times.

Rather than become intimidated by the task of winning five games in six day, Coach Christian’s squad has embraced it. Ohio got the first of those wins Monday. Now it will look to get the second on Wednesday against Miami.