The starting tip-off at Ohio University’s mens basketball game vs. the Toledo Rockets at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio on Tuesday, January 25, 2017. (Daniel Linhart/WOUB)

Ohio Seeks Redemption Against Akron

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For the true freshman Jason Carter, it was another learning experience in his young career. But for the Ohio Bobcats, it was a tough loss.

Ohio is coming off a 90-85 loss at the hands of the Western Michigan Broncos. What makes the loss so tough is not only that Western Michigan was in last place in the Mid-American Conference, but also that Ohio was up 21 points.

“Leadership is kind of the key here,” Kenny Kaminski said. “A lot of the younger guys are pretty upset about the last game and just as upset as I was but at the same time you can’t freak out mid season. It’s not something teams do. It comes down to leadership and making sure all of the guys are level headed and ready to move on for Akron. ”

Carter got the exact same look from three to tie the game that he did against Toledo just seven days prior but once again could not connect.

“They’re going to come, he’s a freshman being put in a tough position,” Kaminski said. “He’s being fed to the wolves right now. It’s a lot to take in for him. I’ve been in that position before, him and I have had a couple conversations on just learning how to deal with certain things like that because one thing in college is that you’re going to lose.”

“I’ve never met anybody that has gone 31-0 four straight years. Part of growing up and maturing as basketball players is learning how to lose and how to bounce back off losses,” Kaminski continued.

Ohio got a very good look. They needed a 3-pointer to tie the game and got an open look.

“I didn’t purposely draw it up for him but when he caught it I was like alright this is going to be okay,” Ohio coach Saul Phillips said. “You need a three and you get a wide open three on the arc with a kid who has shown the ability to hit it, his percentages aren’t great but he certainly doesn’t look uncomfortable shooting threes, certainly from 17-18 feet he’s very comfortable.”

The play against Western Michigan was drawn up for Jordan Dartis but the Broncos defended Dartis and Jaaron Simmons well but left Carter open on the left wing. Despite being a true freshman, Phillips said he has no problem with Carter taking the shot.

Carter is playing out of position. Phillips said he’s “born to be a four” but because of the injury to Antonio Campbell, Carter is forced to play center. Carter and fellow big Doug Taylor have a huge test down low this weekend with the Akron Zips coming to town.

Akron is led by their bigs. They love to dump it down low to Isaiah Johnson and Kwan Cheatham and play off of those two. In the meeting on Jan. 17, those two players combined for 32 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and two steals.

“We’ve got to be careful of where we’re helping from and where we apply pressure from on Big Dawg [Johnson],” Kaminski said. “He is a big presence to their game and we’re going to try and make him as uncomfortable as possible.”

Johnson is so tough because of his size. Listed at 6 feet 10inches tall and 280 pounds, although probably bigger, Johnson has had a great year. Johnson is in the top 10 in the MAC in scoring per game, rebounds per game, field goal percentage and is eleventh in assists per game.

But it is Cheatham who has given Ohio fits. The past two times Ohio faced Akron, Cheatham has gone for 21 and 17 points.

“We’ve got to do a better job on Cheatham,” Phillips said. “He has been our personal nemesis.”

Akron is the only undefeated team left in conference play. The game is nationally televised on CBSSports Network. Tipoff is set for 12 p.m. on Saturday.