Basketball Notebook: Bobcats best RedHawks in 'Battle of the Bricks'

Ohio sophomore guard Stevie Taylor rises up for a shot against Toledo. The Bobcats beat the Rockets by nine points Saturday at The Convo. (Logan Riely | File)

Ohio beat rival Miami 74-62 Wednesday at Millett Hall to move to 14-5 on the year and 5-0 in Mid-American Conference play. Read our chronological coverage of the game below.

Pregame

 

Ohio will be in search of its first 5-0 start in conference play since the turn of the century when takes the floor at Miami's Millett Hall Wednesday.

The Bobcats (13-5, 4-0 Mid-American Conference) have not started their conference campaign with five straight wins since the 1998-1999 season, when MAC games were spread throughout the entirety of their schedule as opposed to the current format where they are played after nonconference competition.

That season's RedHawks, led by former coach Charlie Coles, bested the Bobcats by 15 at home. This time around, the Bobcats will take a swipe at a Miami (7-9, 2-2 MAC) squad without Coles for the first time in 16 seasons, as he retired after the 2012 MAC Tournament.

His replacement, John Cooper, isn't the only new look the Bobcats will deal with Wednesday. He has implemented new, uptepo systems that heavily feature the RedHawks' redshirt junior duo of Will Felder, a forward, and Allen Roberts, a guard.

Ohio coach Jim Christian said Felder is a force in the paint, and Roberts is a threat from the perimeter.

He also noted that the Bobcats have an additional focus on shooting the ball better from long range, as they have shot only 26 percent from three-point range in their last 60 minutes of game play.

"In order to win on the road in any league, especially this one, you have to make shots," Christian said. "We have not shot the ball very well in the last couple games from the perimeter, so it’s a concern."

A key for Ohio to getting open looks from the perimeter is senior guard D.J. Cooper, who averages more than eight assists per game. 

Fifteen dishes would place Cooper at 20th on the NCAA's all-time career assist list.

Senior forward Ivo Baltic, who said Millett Hall is one of his favorite gyms in which he has played, is 11 points away from hitting 1,000 for his career. 

Look back at the Bobcats' last game, a nine-point win against Toledo, here. Read beat reporter Jim Ryan's game preview here. Follow him and The Post Sports on Twitter for game updates.

 

First Half

 

For the fifth-straight game, Ohio's starters are Baltic, Cooper, senior forward Reggie Keely, redshirt senior guard Walter Offutt and junior guard Nick Kellogg.

Miami controlled the tip, and scored the first four points of the game — both from the fingertips of Felder. 

Christian went to his bench less than two minutes into the game, subbing junior forward Jon Smith for Keely.

Baltic hit the Bobcats' first shot — a 19-footer — less than a minute later to cut the RedHawks' lead in half. 

Felder was the next player to score, as he upped his point total to six points before Offutt hit a three-pointer from the wing with 15:30 remaining in the first half. 

Roberts then showed the variety in his skill set by faking a three-pointer and driving the hoop for two points. 

Ohio then bounced back with a layup in the paint courtesy of Smith, who adjusted mid-air and banked the ball off the glass.

Offutt and Smith had both picked up a pair of fouls by the game's 14-minute mark, forcing Christian to revert back to Keely and insert junior guard Ricardo Johnson into the game for the first time.

Ohio trailed 12-9 with 14 minutes to play in the half.

T.J. Hall, a junior forward, checked in seven minutes into the game. 

Soon thereafter, Cooper and Kellogg made back-to-back threes to give the Bobcats their first lead of the game.

Junior guard Travis Wilkins swished a three-pointer within 10 seconds of entering the game for the first time to up Ohio's lead to six with 12 minutes remaining in the first half.

After surrendering four offensive rebounds in a single Miami possession that resulted in two points, Keely gathered an board on the offensive end, which he dished to Johnson, who converted it for two of his own.

Baltic then hit a 19-footer to bring the Bobcats' lead back to three with 8:45 remaining in the first half. 

Ohio sophomore guard Stevie Taylor checked into the game for the first time just before the Baltic three.

Ohio hit its fifth three-pointer of the half when Wilkins put one up from the corner to give the Bobcats a 25-18 lead inside the eight-minute mark in the first half.

Ohio had hit five of its eight three-point attempts to that point. 

Roberts stormed back with a wide-open three from the left corner to bring Miami within five with six minutes remaining in the opening stanza.

Soon thereafter, Ohio redshirt sophomore forward Kadeem Green made his first appearance in the game. He had not played since Ohio beat Western Michigan on Jan. 12 because of an ankle sprain.

With 2:45 on the clock, Kellogg hit his second three of the game, upping Ohio's lead to its highest of the half: 32-23.

After a Miami layup, the Bobcats got a quick start in transition and were able to put the ball in the basket within five seconds after three snappy passes, ending in a layup from Green.

With just more than a minute left in the half, Felder slammed home a transition two-hander to move Miami within five. 

Cooper grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back for two points as the first half clock expired. 

 

Halftime: Ohio 36, Miami 29

 

Ohio shot the ball well in the first half, as it knocked down 59 percent of its attempts including five of eight from beyond the arc.

The Bobcats' seven turnovers matched their opponents' total, while their 10 assists doubled the RedHawks' mark.

Cooper led the Bobcats with eight points and five assists, while Wilkins and Kellogg had six points — both from three-pointers. 

Miami's Felder and Roberts combined for 21 points in the first half.

 

Second Half

 

Miami began the half with a pair of free throws from Felder, which sandwiched two Ohio three-point misses.

After three empty possessions, Ohio converted an and-one opportunity when Keely was fouled on his way to the hoop. 

Cooper followed up his effort with a wide-open three-pointer, bringing the Bobcats' lead back to nine points.

Baltic and Kellogg then hit back-to-back threes to give Ohio a 14-point lead with 16:30 left in the game.

After a timeout, Kellogg and Cooper hit Ohio's fourth- and fifth-straight three-pointers to move the score to 54-36. 

The Bobcats broke their streak with a pair of three-point misses, but Baltic tip-slammed an Offutt miss to bring the score to 56-36 with 14 minutes remaining. 

Then, after a Miami miss, Cooper drove the length of the floor to continue the Bobcats' 16-2 run.

The Bobcats kept their lead to at least 16 through the game's 11-minute mark, after which Miami mounted an eight-point run of its own. 

Ohio still led by 13 — 63-50 — with eight minutes remaining in the game.

Baltic became the 34th Bobcat of all time to break the 1,000-point barrier with about 7:30 to play in the game, taking an inbound pass alley-oop to the rim for a layup.

Kellogg then hit his fifth three-pointer of the game, and Baltic upped the Bobcats' point total to 71 with an easy layup.

Miami brought the game within 10 with less than four minutes to play in the game. 

The RedHawks failed to convert on several open opportunities as time wore down, and were held at an arm's length for the remainder of the game.

Cooper iced the win with one of two free throws with less than 45 seconds to play. Miami trailed 74-61 at that point.

 

Final: Ohio 74, Miami 62

 

Although Miami was able to bring the Bobcats' lead to 10 points late in the second half, it didn't have any finishing power with the clock ticking down. The RedHawks missed two wide-open layups and could not convert its chances after pulling down as many as four offensive rebounds in a row with just more than two minutes remaining.

 

Statistics

 

Cooper: 17 points, nine assists, seven rebounds

Kellogg: 15 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting, three assists

Baltic: 13 points, 12 rebounds; first double-double of the season

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Felder: 19 points, 10 rebounds

Allen: 14 points

McKnight: 11 points, four steals

 

Reactions

 

"When you have live-ball turnovers you’re going to get layups. Same things when we force live-ball turnovers; we get layups. So I think that we have to take care of the basketball." — Christian on Miami's open shots

"We did so many things that are not going to help us as we try to win on the road, especially from the free throw line, especially smart decisions late, defensive and offensive rebounding late in the game — we just have to clean all that up." — Christian

"I thought he played a very smart game; three assists, only one turnover. He made some big plays and just had a good awareness about him. When guys got trapped he went to the open spot, ran the floor very well, rebounded the ball extremely well." — Christian on Baltic's play

"We just came ready to play, but then we let our foot off the pedal. Coach was a little disappointed in us, and so are we. So we have to take care of that because that’s not going to happen on Saturday (against Kent State.)" — Baltic

 

Twitter Notes

 

It was pretty at times and quite the opposite at others, but Ohio got the win...

Ohio's poor free throw shooting isn't reason for concern unless it happens again...

It's good that Christian was able to give Wilkins and Green significant time...

Christian said Ohio didn't run as many set plays as usual...

Baltic must really like playing at Millett Hall...

 

Up Next

 

Ohio will make the trip to Kent, Ohio to face the Golden Flashes on their home court Saturday. Kent State (11-8, 2-3 MAC) fell by a score of 70-55 to Bowling Green in its most recent game, Wednesday.

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