Ohio basketball, Jason Preston
Jason Preston (0) was one of the top ball distributors in the entire nation last season. Photo: Ben Wielgopolski, WOUB visuals

Ohio Men’s Basketball: Roderick, Preston lead big second half as Ohio beats North Carolina A&T

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While most of the country was at home eating turkey with their family, the Ohio Bobcats were playing their second game in under 24 hours on Thanksgiving Day in Champaign, Ill. Due in large part to the stellar play of Ben Roderick and Jason Preston as well as a second half turnaround, the Bobcats can be thankful at the dinner table for their 84-72 victory over the Aggies Thursday afternoon.

“We’re just really happy to get the win. We talk about adversity all the time and one of our mantras is bend but don’t break,” Ohio head coach Jeff Boals said.

The first half of this game was up and down for Ohio. The Bobcats couldn’t have had a better start. They quickly jumped out to a nine-to-nothing lead and by the time the Aggies called a timeout with 15:18 left in the half, it was already 13-2. The bobcats maintained a 12-point lead throughout the first 10 minutes of the half. After that, the Bobcats began to struggle. They were outscored 24-12 over the final nine and a half minutes of the first and would end up shooting four for 14 from beyond the arc after starting two for three. The Bobcats shot 12 of 28 from the field in the half and many of their misses came in the final 10 minutes of play. The teams went into the half tied up at 35.

“I think at the 11-minute mark we were up 12 and only three turnovers and by the end of the half we had nine turnovers, they made a run at us and ended up tying the game at halftime,” Boals said.

Thankfully for the Bobcats, it was a tale of two half’s as the Bobcats exploded in the second half with the 3-point ball. Leading the charge was Ben Roderick. The sophomore nailed three consecutive threes about a quarter of the way through the second half that would allow the Bobcats to start pouring it on from downtown.

“Ben broke it (the game) open and made a couple threes. Give a lot of credit to him and our guys for executing,” Boals said.

The Bobcats ended the day shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc, including going nine for 20 in the second half. Roderick ended with a career high 22 points, including going six of nine from three-point land and shot 70% from the field.

Junior star Jason Preston once again had a stellar day. He finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, just shy of a double-double and only one rebound and three assists away from his second career triple-double. Preston shot 61 percent from the field and dropped in three treys.

The Bobcats once again had four players in double figures as Dwight Wilson continues to fit into his role as the big man as he finished with 14 points and grabbed six rebounds. Ben Vander Plas finished with 11 points and had eight rebounds.

The Bobcats would lead by as much as 22 points in the second half and the Aggies scored some points at the end to make the score look closer.

With the win, the Bobcats are now 2-0 on the season, which sets them up with the eight-ranked team in the nation, the Illinois Fighting Illini. The game is set to tip-off tomorrow at 1 p.m.  Boals shared his thoughts about the matchup.

“It’s a great opportunity for our guys. We got probably a top four team in the county on their court. It’s game three in three days so it’s going to be a matter of toughness and a matter of heart,” Boals said.  “They come at you in a number of ways. They are very talented, but we got to be the tougher team, we got to block out, get back in transition and not let them get the easy basket. We’ll come up with the game plan tonight and discuss it with our team. It’s an early tip tomorrow and it should be a good one.”

Ohio Basketball Jason Preston
Jason Preston has helped guide the Bobcats to a 2-0 start in the 2020-21 season.