Men's Basketball: Bobcats aim for road win

Ohio guard Walter Offutt holds the ball to set up a play during the Bobcats’ game against the Colonials. Robert Morris defeated Ohio 84-76 Saturday at the Sewall Center. The ’Cats will play the Tigers Wednesday night in Memphis, Tenn. (Daniel Kubus | Staff Photographer)

What does a tiger do when it takes a little tiger snooze? It takes a couple days to focus on itself instead of preparing for its opponent — at least that’s the case for the Memphis Tigers, which welcome Ohio to their home arena Wednesday after taking 10 days away from game action.

After winning the first two games of the season by a combined 26 points and taking a trip to the Bahamas, where they played three games in as many days, the Tigers have played only once in the past 10 days, ripping the University of Tennessee-Martin by 28 this past Thursday.

Ohio coach Jim Christian said the Tigers likely haven’t spent their off time honing in on Ohio’s systems, but polishing theirs.

“I’m sure they’re trying to clean up their own stuff instead of concentrating on playing us,” he said. “They’ve had time to do that, so I’m sure they’ll be more efficient and a little more focused in on what they need to do to get better.”

Christian said a week ago that fatigue was a factor in the waning moments of the Bobcats’ win against St. Bonaventure. Ohio has not had much time to rest since.
He attributed some of Ohio’s fouls against the Bonnies to fatigue, saying that the Bobcats were slow to move into position, which was the case once again against Robert Morris on Saturday, when the Bobcats sent the Colonials to the charity stripe a season-high 35 times.

“We didn’t do the job we needed to do defensively, as far as closing out (and) being in position,” redshirt senior guard Walter Offutt said.

That can’t happen if Ohio wants to be successful against Memphis.

The Tigers boast five players 6-foot-8 or taller, and average 37 rebounds a game, including an average of 13 per contest on the offensive end.

Christian said the Bobcats will have to be physical in terms of grabbing loose balls off the glass, but will also have an especially good handle on the ball in transition in order to combat the Tigers’ efficient offense, which has turned the ball over less than 14 times per game this season.

Ohio has committed exactly 13 turnovers per game this season, and had only eight miscues against Robert Morris.

Still, the spotlight will be on Ohio’s defense, which fell well short of expectations against Robert Morris on Saturday.

“This is a game we’re going to have to be solid,” Christian said. “We’re going to have to get some stops and get back to doing the things we were doing when we were playing well.”

Jon Smith, a redshirt junior forward, said the trip to Memphis will be a second chance for the Bobcats to prove themselves away from The Convo.

“We’re back on the road so it’s another road test, another game where we’re not going to have as many fans and maybe as many calls in our direction,” he said. “We just have to be together and come out and play our best game.”

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