[Bryan Kurp | WOUB]

The win streak for Ohio Men’s Basketball ends after a loss to Toledo

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — The duel between the high-flying Toledo Rockets and the red-hot Ohio Bobcats did not disappoint for the most part.

A nationally televised game between the two hottest teams in the MAC had high expectations for fans of both teams. Ohio entered the contest 14-2 overall and undefeated in the MAC at 5-0.  Toledo posted an impressive 14-4 record overall and, if not for a three-point loss at Kent State, would be undefeated as well.  Sadly for Bobcat fans, Ohio’s MAC record suffered a hit as it ended up losing 87-69.

Starting the game on a big run made Jeff Boals use multiple timeouts and the Bobcats got down early.

Ryan Rollins absolutely showed out early, scoring eight of the first 16 points.  Ohio could not climb back as the half ended 45-29 in favor of the Rockets.  However, the second half was different. Not even five minutes in Ohio had cut the lead to ten points, playing with pace and scoring off of Toledo turnovers. It was getting quite physical as both teams entered the bonus within nine minutes. The Bobcats marched back, cutting the lead to six points on multiple occasions during the last ten minutes. 

With a 16-4 run by Toledo to end the game, Ohio’s efforts were valiant, but could not prevail and eventually fell. 

For both of these teams the story so far has been the brilliant play from the backcourt.

Ohio Men's Basketball head coach Jeff Boals talks to his team during the Bobcats' game against Toledo on Jan. 21, 2022 at the Convocation Center.
Ohio Men’s Basketball head coach Jeff Boals talks to his team during the Bobcats’ game against Toledo on Jan. 21, 2022 at the Convocation Center.

Ohio’s Mark Sears and Toledo’s Ryan Rollins have been two of the best underclassmen guards in the entire conference. Sears has been averaging a career high 19.5 PPG opposed to Rollins 19.3. Although Sears usually averages more points than Rollins, tonight the sophomore guard that took over was Rollins. After winning MAC Rookie of the Year, Rollins has not entered the usual “sophomore slump.” He has been even more dominant than he was last year and tonight was no different. The 6’4 guard from Macomb, Michigan was a nuisance for Bobcat defenders in all aspects of his game as he posted a 26-point, six-rebound and five-assist night, leading the team in all categories.

It wasn’t a slow start for Rollins either, scoring eight of the first 16 points for Toledo. Rollins is a phenomenal shooter while moving around without the ball so fluidly it looks like he has played for years. He is not only an aggressive, score-first type of player, but he manhandled Sears on defense. Sears shot a meager 38.5% from the field and had to utilize the help of his big men to get him an open shot. Rollins showed why he’s the No. 1 guard that everyone in the MAC fears.  

Not only Rollins showed up tonight for the Rockets.  Juniors Ray-J Dennis, Setric Millner Jr, and JT Shumate were a good combination of size and strength the Bobcats could not handle. Dennis, a 6’2 guard, and Millner Jr., a 6’7 forward, bodied the smaller sized Bobcats throughout the contest.

As for Shumate, even Ohio coach Jeff Boals recognized his distinctive skill set.

“He can guard 5’s, space you out, he can shoot 3’s. His shooting numbers are ridiculous,” Boals said.

Boals was not lying. At 56 percent from the field, it is rare to find a 6’7 forward who’s shooting numbers as solid as Shumate’s.  

Rollins and company dominated the night but Jason Carter would not let them get away without a fight.

After posting a monster statline against Bowling Green, Carter bounced back from a rough Miami game with flying colors.

In only a little over 30 minutes Carter ended with 19, 7, 2.  Carter is an usual player just because of his combination of size, touch, and pace.

Against Toledo he utilized his cut-throat, fadeaway, mid-range jumpshot to torch the Rockets defense. On other possessions, the fifth-year player would back down undersized players and use the 6’8 frame of his. A true “do it all” kind of player, Carter’s performance tonight is something that Boals and the rest of the team can be pleased with.  

Carter left the ballgame in the second half with an injury, but head coach Jeff Boals said Carter was dealing with cramping.

The Bobcats are back in action on Tuesday as they welcome in the Northern Illinois Huskies.