Check out the video link above for highlights from Ohio's 86-66 loss to Buffalo on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021.

Ohio Men’s Basketball: Turnovers, Missed Threes Reign Supreme in Bobcats’ Blowout Loss to Buffalo

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — The Ohio men’s basketball team (13-7, 9-5 MAC) went into its Saturday afternoon matchup with Buffalo (12-7, 10-5 MAC) at the Convocation Center in Athens with a six-game win streak, as the third seed in the Mid-American Conference and playing its third game in five days. What transpired was a dominating performance from the Bulls as they defeated the Bobcats 86-66 and moved the Bobcats back to fifth place.

“Coach Boals told us it was there third game in five days as well,” Ohio guard Jason Preston said.  “Whoever was the more energetic and tougher team would win, and they came in and out toughed us. They outplayed us so credit to them.”

Ohio's Jason Preston drives against the Buffalo defense in the Bobcats' game on Feb. 27, 2021. (Chris J. Day/WOUB)
Ohio’s Jason Preston drives against the Buffalo defense in the Bobcats’ game on Feb. 27, 2021. (Chris J. Day/WOUB)

The game was pretty back-and-forth for the first six minutes of the game. The teams were trading baskets and stops as Buffalo held a nine to eight lead. Then the Bobcats would go on a stretch where they shot just one of nine and turned the ball over nine times. During that stretch, Buffalo would go on a 24 to five run to take a 33-13 lead.

Turnovers were definitely the biggest story of the first half for the Bobcats. Ohio turned the ball over 14 times during the half and the Bulls were able to score 15 points off of turnovers in the first.

“One of the keys going into the game was to take care of the basketball,” Ohio head coach Jeff Boals said.  “I think we had 14 turnovers in the first half, and they turned those turnovers into quick points in transition. You’re not going to beat Buffalo doing that.”

The Bobcats went into the half down 52-32. Josh Mballa, a junior center for the Bulls, had a huge first half as he led all players with 19 points in the first and was the driving force behind a furious offensive attack from the Bulls. He’d lead all players with 23 points in the game to go along with nine rebounds.

A problem in the first half that made its way into the second half for the Bobcats. Besides a stretch in the first were they connected on three consecutive three-pointers from beyond the arc, Ohio would just shoot one for 21 from three for the rest of the game. That’s a three-point percentage of just 16.7, their worst shooting performance of the season in that category. However, Preston believes it’s nothing to be concerned about for the future.

“We missed a lot of open looks, myself included,” said Preston.  “Those are shots we usually make it was just an off-night for us, but I don’t think it’s anything that is going to become a problem.”

The Bobcats would go on a few runs in the game to try to claw back into the game, getting to within 11 points a couple of times, but it seemed like every time the Bobcats would start to figure it out on offense, the Bulls would always respond with baskets of their own. In fact, the largest run Buffalo had the entire game was only nine to nothing, so it would be like a 10 to four run for Buffalo most of the time, allowing the Bulls to gradually keep adding to their lead throughout the game.

“They got a lot of and-ones and a lot of threes,” Preston said.  “Whenever we would go on a four-nothing run, they would hit a three and force a turnover. You can’t really go on a run when your trading baskets so that’s on us. We got to make some stops.”

The Bulls would build up a lead of more than 30 points as Buffalo comes away with a dominating 86-66 victory. Ben Roderick was the leading scorer for the Bobcats as he would finish with 15 points. The Bobcats get an extra day of rest, but they will still play their fourth game in eight days when they travel to take on the Kent State Golden Flashes Tuesday, March 2. This isn’t the first time Ohio is coming off of a bad loss before. Their last loss before this game was to Kent State on January 16 and proceeded to go on a six-game win streak right after that. Coach Boals is confident that his team can bounce back from this performance when they take on KSU.

“They’ve done it all year,” said Boals.  “We we’re playing with a lot of confidence and we just ran into a team that was ready after we had beaten them on their floor. We just have to regroup. It’s an unforgiving league so we got to be ready to go on Tuesday.”