Bobcats Look To Stall Potent Keydet Offense Wednesday

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One of the beauties of postseason play is the opportunity to play teams that are vastly different. At the same time, playing vastly different teams is also one of the largest challenges of the postseason.

This is the exact challenge that Ohio (25-11, 11-7) will face when it hosts Virginia Military Institute (21-11, 11-5) in the CIT quarterfinals Wednesday.

The Bobcats will really have to switch gears for their matchup with the high scoring Keydets, as they are coming off a game against defensive-minded Wright State. Ohio defeated Wright State 56-54 on Saturday.

The Bobcats only had one score in double figures, Javarez “Bean” Willis, who posted a season-high 21 points. The junior point guard put up those numbers rather efficiently, going 7 for 11 from the field and 5 for 6 from 3-point range. Defensively, Ohio shut down Wright State, holding the Raiders to 32.2 percent shooting from the field and 27.8 percent from 3-point range.

Unlike Wright State, who only averages 67.4 points a game, VMI can absolutely light up a scoreboard. The Keydets lead the nation in scoring, averaging 87.7 points per contest. It seems as though they have elevated their play in the postseason, as they have scored at least 100 points in each of their two CIT games.

VMI’s explosive offensive attack is led by three players: D.J. Covington, QJ Peterson and Rodney Glasgow. Covington scores a team-high 19.9 points per game. Perhaps the most impressive part of Covington’s scoring is how efficiently he does it. The senior forward shoots at an astounding 59.5 percent clip from the floor. At 6-foot-9, Covington is also strong rebounder, bringing down 9.3 boards a game.

Unlike Covington, Peterson and Glasgow are on the smaller side. Peterson comes in at 6-foot, and Glasgow is only listed at 5-foot-10. Their size does not slow them down, though. Peterson, a freshman, is right on Covington’s tail, averaging 19.8 points per game. Glasgow rounds out VMI’s three-headed scoring monster with 18.5 points per game.

One of the largest concerns for Ohio, other than trying to slow down the Keydets on offense, is taking care of the ball. When playing against fast-paced, high-scoring teams, it’s easy to get sped up and careless with the ball. The Bobcats turned the ball over 14 times against Wright State and will look to shrink that number against VMI.

If Ohio plans to score with the Keydets, it will need several players to continue their strong play and a couple players to get back on track. Dating back to the March 4 victory, Bean Willis has been on a tear, averaging 13.6 points per game. The junior point guard has shown that he is confident and comfortable with taking just about any shot on the floor in that stretch.

The Bobcats will also look for Antonio Campbell to keep up his strong play. In that same stretch, the freshman forward averaged 10.1 points per game.

It’s a good thing that Willis and Campbell have stepped up because Ohio’s leading scorers, Nick Kellogg and Maurice Ndour, have struggled over the last few games. After tearing through the MAC Tournament, Kellogg has not been able to find his stroke. The senior guard is only averaging four points per game in the CIT.  Ndour has not been much better, averaging only 5.5 points per game in the postseason.

Fortunately for Ohio, VMI’s defense will give these players plenty of opportunities to score. The Keydets rank near the bottom of the nation (343rd) in scoring defense, giving up 82.6 points a game.

The winner of the game Wednesday will advance to the CIT semifinals, which will be played April 1.