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Photo: Logan Riely

Ohio Finds a Way to Win on Black Friday

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Kenny Kaminski did not play. Gavin Block and Antonio Campbell combined for 10 points and only six players scored.

Yet, the Ohio Bobcats won by 11 points.

Ohio (4-0) defeated the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (1-5) 68-57 Friday night at the Convocation Center.

Ohio’s defense was stellar all night long, holding the Eagles to 57 points on 41 percent shooting. The Golden Eagles had three different stretches of more than three minutes without a field goal, including a 6:13 stretch to end the first half.

“This was the most dominant defensive performance we’ve had in my tenure by a lot,” head coach Saul Phillips said on the postgame show.

Part of the reason for the great defense was because of freshman Rodney Culver getting the first start of his career. He registered a block, two steals and seven points in 29 minutes of action.

It did not start off well for Ohio. They looked like they were playing on the day after Thanksgiving. Kajon Mack hit a jumper to give the Golden Eagles a 9-8 lead. That bucket sparked an 11-3 run, giving Tennessee Tech a 20-11 lead. From there though, Ohio’s defense took over. Over the final 10:13, the Golden Eagles hit just two field goals and had five points.

Meanwhile, the offense slowly started finding their groove and scored 20 points, giving Ohio a 31-25 lead at the half.

The two teams started the second half by trading points but then Jordan Dartis and Jason Carter hit back-to-back triples, giving Ohio a 44-34 lead. The Golden Eagles went on an 8-2 run and trailed 46-42 with 11:16 remaining. But then the defense took over again.

The Golden Eagles went on a 5:16 stretch without a point. Meanwhile Ohio began to pull away. A 10-0 run thanks to threes by Carter and Dartis gave Ohio a 56-42 lead. A three by Aleksa Jugovic made it a 62-50 lead for Ohio. But the Bobcats put the game away with a 6-0 run.

Coming into the game, Ohio was ranked last in the Mid-American Conference in free throw percentage, but that will change after going 14-18 from the line. The only down side to the game was that Ohio came up just two points shy of 70 so the crowd did not get lava cakes, but Phillips has an offer for fans.

“If you write a one page essay and present your ticket stub and I will buy you lava cakes,” Phillips said.

Dartis led everybody with 22 points, drilling six threes. Carter had his best game as a Bobcat, registering 17 points and five rebounds. Simmons had 12 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Jugovic had 20 points to lead the Golden Eagles. Mack chipped in 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

The victory gives Ohio its fourth on the year and the Global Sports Shootout title. Up next for Ohio is a trip to Huntington, West Virginia to take on the Marshall Thundering Herd. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.