[Payton Brooker | WOUB]

Clayton and Sheldon combine for 31 points in Ohio’s 91-70 win over Buffalo

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — A.J. Clayton’s slam dunks and a rocking Convo were the catalysts in an emphatic home victory for Ohio – its eighth of the season. 

After earning their first road victory of the 2023-24 season at Kent State on Friday, Ohio (11-10, 5-4 MAC) welcomed Buffalo (2-18, 1-7 MAC) to the Convo on Tuesday.  

Early Shooting Slump Propels Bobcats 

Ohio’s aerial attack early on matched the weather in Athens – muggy. Ohio opened Tuesday’s game shooting just 3-for-11 from the field.  

Despite the struggles, head coach Jeff Boals knew it was only a matter of time before the engine warmed up.  

Shereef Mitchell led the way for Ohio as the half went on. His 11 points catapulted the Bobcats in a 15-2 run – leading to a 32-18 cushion in the waning minutes of the opening frame.  

“I thought our guys did a good job of responding with what [Buffalo] was doing,” Boals said.

Ohio finished the first half shooting 47% from the field and went into the locker room with a 41-26 advantage.  

A.J. and Ajay Keep Buffalo at Bay 

Ajay Sheldon goes up for a shot against Buffalo
Ajay Sheldon (0) goes up for a shot against Buffalo [Shamar Semple | WOUB]
Whether fans were rooting for A.J. or Ajay – both A.J. Clayton and Ajay Sheldon gave them something to cheer about. 

Clayton utilized his 6-foot-8 height to spread out Ohio’s offense and get looks from beyond the arcs – looks that he knocked down.  

Clayton dominated the second half for the Bobcats with 14 points in the ladder half, which included a duo of 3-pointers that sparked green and white loyalists with excitement. 

To encore Clayton’s invigorating efforts, Sheldon finished a circus layup to go along with a foul and subsequent free throw. Moments later, Sheldon found himself leaping in the air for an offensive rebound. He guided the ball in off the glass to give Ohio a 21-point advantage.  

Clayton’s emphatic performance was more than just a showing of individual greatness. For him, it’s a representation of how his team has prioritized the defensive end.  

“It all starts with our defense,” Clayton said. “Once we started defending, the offense started going in our favor, too. So it’s just clicking right now.” 

For Sheldon, the backing of green and white supporters served as a motivational tool as well. 

“The crowds are always great at the Convo,” Sheldon said. “They get up and they get into it. It’s a good feeling.” 

Tuesday’s dynamic duo combined for 31 points and five rebounds in Ohio’s 91-70 victory.  

From the Sidelines 

There were a lot of positives Boals took from the stat sheet as his team earned its eighth home win of the year.  

Jaylin Hunter goes up for a shot
Jaylin Hunter (12) goes up for a shot [Shamar Semple | WOUB]
One of those positives was the team’s emphasis on the defensive end. Ohio scored 22 points from Buffalo’s 12 turnovers. Ohio also pushed the pace of the game to their advantage and finished with 25 fast break points. 

“Anytime we can get those live ball turnovers, we feel really good about our [transitional] execution,” Boals said. “We did a great job sharing the ball and executing in transition.” 

Boals also mentioned that it was only a matter of time before his team would reap the fruits of their labor over. 

“Our guys did a great staying positive and coming in with the right mindset,” Boals said. “The mentality and focus of our guys, especially over these last two weeks, has been very impressive. The leadership has been really good.”

Tuesday’s victory got Ohio back over the .500 mark, as the team sits with an 11-10 overall record.

Ohio has three full days of rest before their annual clash with archrival Miami on Saturday at the Convo. Miami is coming off a 71-67 road win against Kent State on Tuesday. 

Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.