Ohio University’s Gavin Block fends off Buffalo’s Jeremy Harris as he advances up the court in the last two minutes of the game. (Kelsey Brunner/WOUB)

Ohio Men’s Basketball: ‘Cats Prepare For Matchup With #25 Buffalo

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On Tuesday night, the Bobcats will be presented with an opportunity that no Ohio University men’s basketball team has had in the last 22 seasons.

When the ‘Cats take the floor in Buffalo, it will be the first time since January 31, 1996, that Ohio will play a conference game against a team ranked in the AP Top 25. That day, Ohio defeated No. 23 Eastern Michigan 82-73 in the Convo.

If the Bobcats want to duplicate that feat, they will need to pick up right where they left off offensively on Saturday afternoon. The 80 points scored by Ohio against Central Michigan was the most they had scored in their previous six games and only the second time they’ve topped 80 in MAC play.

“I thought we generated more good shots. It felt good, it really did. It felt like our guys played pretty free,” Ohio head coach Saul Phillips said. “We still didn’t shoot the ball particularly well from three or the line, but we got a lot of good looks.”

But Buffalo, currently ranked 25th in the Associated Press poll, is a different animal entirely.

The Bulls (22-3, 10-2 MAC) come into the game boasting the best offense in the MAC, and the 7th best in the entire country, scoring nearly 85 points per game.

“It’s a great opportunity. We haven’t played a ranked opponent in quite some time,” Phillips said. “It’s a chance for us go out there and measure ourselves against a top 25 team.”

Tuesday will be the first of two games between the Bobcats and Bulls in the span of 15 days. Between those games, the schedule doesn’t do any favors for Ohio either, with trips to Kent State and Akron and a home matchup with Bowling Green being sandwiched by the Buffalo games.

The Bulls present numerous problems for opposing teams to solve, starting with leading-scorer C.J. Massinburg. The senior guard averages a team-high 18.3 points per game while also grabbing just over six rebounds a game and shooting nearly 50 percent from the field.

And the Bulls aren’t just a one-man show. Two other players, Jeremy Harris and Nick Perkins, average 13.8 ppg a piece and Perkins does his damage coming off the bench. Buffalo also can tout their depth as a strength of their team, having nine players average nearly 10 minutes a game or more.

The ‘Cats will certainly have their work cut out for them if they want to snap their five-game losing streak at Alumni Arena in Buffalo on Tuesday night. A road win over a top-25 team would be a beacon of hope for the Bobcats in an otherwise disappointing season.

Tip-off between the Bobcats and Bulls is set for 7 p.m.