Men's Basketball: Bobcats break road slump against Broncos

T.J. Hall loses the ball against Oakland’s Duke Mondy at the Convo on Dec. 8. Hall had nine points in Ohio’s 78-61 win. (Jason Chow | Staff Photographer)

The unraveling of a single possession from Saturday’s 61-59 win against Western Michigan encapsulates the effort Ohio needs to be successful in Mid-American Conference play.

The Bobcats (11-5, 2-0 MAC), which had yet to win on the road heading into the game, led by seven with nine minutes remaining in the game, and were carrying a full head of steam, having extended their lead from as little as two points earlier in the half.

Junior forward T.J. Hall rose up from the perimeter to hoist a three-point shot, which clanged off the rim and into the outstretched arms of Walter Offutt, a redshirt senior guard who beat his defender’s box-out and hawked the loose ball.

A split second later, senior guard D.J. Cooper was waiting on Offutt’s next move, which was a sharp pass to him at the top of the key.

From there, he pump faked from well beyond the three-point boundary — not at all uncharted territory for Cooper’s deep-ball attempt — feigned a move to the basket and dumped a pass off to senior forward Reggie Keely in the post. He took the ball in stride, adjusted to contact in mid-air and finished the play, later making the foul shot assessed because of the extra bump.

The play wasn’t especially unique, but pieced together many of the elements that will make or break the Bobcats’ conference campaign.

Hall, a reserve that averages only 12 minutes per game, stepped up when called upon and contributed a season-high nine points.

He wasn’t cautious in throwing up three-pointers — he made two — and added three rebounds in 26 minutes of action.

He and redshirt sophomore forward Kadeem Green made up for subpar performances against Buffalo on Wednesday, and played premium minutes because of early foul trouble to Keely and redshirt junior forward Jon Smith.

“I got into them pretty good after the way they played against Buffalo, but the fact being, like I told them, ‘You never know when you’re going to be needed.’ They were needed (Saturday),” Ohio coach Jim Christian said.

Offutt, who had a relatively routine stat line, provided grit for the Bobcats, pulling down a team-high five rebounds and playing solid defense.

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