Gavin Block, Ohio University Forward, attempts to tip the ball against Eastern Michigan players at the Convocation Center on January 14, 2016. (Camille Fine/WOUB)

Ohio Starts the Season With a Win Despite Not Having Jason Carter

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No Jason Carter, no problem.

Behind a terrific performance from true freshman Teyvion Kirk and a Draymond Green like performance from Gavin Block, the Ohio Bobcats defeated the Alabama A&M Bulldogs 61-53.

Carter missed the game because of a foot injury. Ohio is still unsure how much time he will miss.

Early in the game, Ohio looked like they would cruise to a victory. However, basketball is a game of runs and that is exactly what happened.

An and-one by Kirk gave Ohio a 12-4 lead. Alabama A&M responded with an 8-0 of their own. A three by Jalen Reeder tied the game at 12. Mike Laster’s layup ended the scoring run by the Bulldogs. However, Alabama A&M’s run continued. All in all, it was an 11-3 run and the Bulldogs led 15-14. During Alabama A&M’s run, Ohio missed seven of eight shots.

“Until we decided to boycott scoring, we were really playing good basketball,” Phillips said.

Kirk came off the bench and provided a spark. Eighteen seconds after being brought back into the game, Kirk scored. Ohio scored seven of the next 11 points to lead 23-20 with 5:28 remaining. A layup by Mohamed Sherif made it a one-point game, 23-22. Alabama A&M didn’t score the rest of the half and the Bobcats led 32-22.

“It’s going to be really important for our young guys to take away the fact that we did hold them to 34 percent shooting for the game,” Phillips said.

The Bobcats came out of the half and started pulling away. Ohio went on a 28-12 run and led 53-34. A 3-pointer by freshman Zach Butler and a jumper by Gavin Block capped off the run.

Block ended the afternoon with 12 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals.

“I didn’t realize I had nine rebounds,” Block said. “Jason is out right now, but someone has to step up and do the little things. Jason is a walking at least 6 rebounds a night. Whatever I got to do to get a win.”

Alabama A&M did not give up. The Bulldogs went to a full court press and got back into the game. Over the next four minutes, Alabama A&M came roaring back. A turn over by Block and a layup by De’Ederick Petty made it a four-point game, 57-53 with 45 seconds to go. Free throws by Kevin Mickle and Kirk put the game away.

The game wasn’t pretty but Phillips will take the win.

“There will be no dislocated shoulders patting ourselves on the back for this one,” Phillips said. “But at the same time, we went 1-0 on a day where the alternative is 0-1.”

In his first game, Kirk ended the game as the leading scorer with 16 points. Mickle had 10 points. Doug Taylor chipped in 6 points and 12 rebounds. Sherif had 14 points and seven rebounds and Arthur Johnson had 12 points and seven rebounds for Alabama A&M.

Ohio travels to South Carolina to take part in the Gilden Charleston Classic. Their first game is Thursday against Clemson. Tipoff is set for 5:00.