Gone In A Flash; Ohio Quickly Pulls Away From Kent State

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Kent State was on a 9-0 run and Gavin Block was sitting on the trainer’s table with a hand injury.

Then Block returned, sparking a 12-0 run to give the Ohio Bobcats (12-15, 5-10) a much-needed 88-76 victory Tuesday night over Kent State (13-15, 7-8).

With about 12 minutes remaining in the game, Block had to be helped to the trainer’s table outside of the locker room with what appeared to be a serious hand injury. In the three minutes Block was off the floor, Kent State made a 62-51 deficit a 62-60 deficit.

Block checked in with 9:12 remaining in the game. Two minutes and 40 seconds later, Ohio led 74-60. During the run, Teyvion Kirk scored eight straight points.

“All of the sudden we got super efficient offensively,” Phillips said of Block’s return. “Guys didn’t try to do things on their own, scored off the pass, made good cuts.”

Four minutes later, Jaylin Walker made a crazy, falling to the floor, spinning layup and was fouled. Walker made the free throw and Kent State trailed by just five, 79-74.

But Ohio had an answer.

Free throws by Kirk, Jordan Dartis and four points by Doug Taylor put Ohio up 12, 86-74 with just 57 seconds remaining.

The victory is Ohio’s second in a row, something they have not done since late December. Head coach Saul Phillips has said all season that he thinks his team is close to making a run. Two wins in a row and back-to-back good offensive performances, that run could be in happening.

“We worked as hard as we can on it [offensive end of the floor] given our minutes,” head coach Saul Phillips said. “We’ve allocated a lot of practice to that end of the court. But I think the biggest thing you’re seeing is a better understanding of how to run a team out of a freshman point guard and boy it’s starting to look pretty fun out there. We’re edging towards being a type of team you don’t want to see in a hurry.”

Ohio used a balanced attack on offense Tuesday. Everyone who played, scored and six of the eight players were in double figures. Ohio hit 10 three-pointers and shot above 55 percent from the field for the game.

“The last two games it’s been five and six in double figures. That’s a lot of things, it’s a better understanding of what we’re trying to get done offensively,” Phillips said. “But it’s also the maturation of a point guard. It flat out is.”

The way the game started, it looked like there was another special night in store for Dartis. Dartis hit four from beyond the arc and had 14 of his game-high 20 points in the first 6:37 of the game. Around 30 seconds later, Dartis found Kevin Mickle for a layup, giving Ohio a 24-16 lead with 12:40 remaining.

Dartis then checked out of the game and was off the floor for three minutes. When Dartis checked back in, the game was tied at 27 (11-3 run for Kent State).

After trading baskets, Ohio got the lead up to nine when Zach Butler found Kevin Mickle in the right corner for a three, giving Ohio a 41-32 lead. The two teams traded baskets for the rest of the half.

Ohio and Kent State traded points to start the second half until the Block injury occurred.

Last time these two teams played, Kevin Zabo torched Ohio for 24 points. This time around, Kirk held him to 4-14 shooting and just 12 points.

“TK was on him most of the night and he took it pretty personal. He didn’t guard him the first time and I said okay you’ve him,” Phillips said. “For two games in a row, he torched us pretty good, so that was a good focal point of what we talked about.”

Along with Dartis, Kirk had 17 points Mickle and James Gollon had 13 each. Mike Laster added 11 points and Taylor finished with 10. For Kent State, Adonis De La Rosa had 13 points, Walker, Zabo and Desmond Ridenour had 12 points each.

Ohio travels to New Rochelle, New York to take on the Buffalo Bulls on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 3:30.