Men's Basketball: Bobcats set to begin MAC play against Buffalo

In 2012, Ohio swept Buffalo in the teams’ three meetings, one of which was in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

The Bobcats will look to begin their 2013 MAC campaign in similar fashion Wednesday when they butt heads with the Bulls at The Convo.

Ohio had its hands full with last year’s Buffalo squad, which featured a three-pronged attack in the form of guard Zach Filzen and forwards Michael Watt and Javon McCrea, each of whom averaged more than 12 points per game.

Only McCrea, now a junior, returned to the team, as his cohorts graduated, but a pair of new players has slipped into a second-in-command role.

Junior guard Jarod Oldham and sophomore forward Will Regan have filled the departed players’ shoes quite nicely, averaging more than 10 points and five rebounds apiece.

Still, the Bulls (5-9) are short of their 7-4 mark of this time last year, and have yet to take the upper hand in a defining, close game.

But if previous years’ teams can be any indication, the heart of its schedule is where Buffalo shines. It busted out a nine-game winning streak beginning in mid-January last season, and won seven of eight MAC games during a stretch in 2011.

Built by a similar mold as Marshall, which Ohio (9-5) beat by 37 Saturday, Buffalo is an intense rebounding team that brings down 5.6 rebounds per game more than its opponent.

Ohio will look to force the Bulls into the fast, transition-based game that gave the Thundering Herd fits Saturday.

The win against Marshall was less of a sigh of relief for a team that lost five of seven in December than a hurricane of dunks, transition baskets and three-pointers.

Senior guard D.J. Cooper, who had a career- and program-record 17 assists in the game, stressed afterward that the it meant more than just a notch in the win column, and was a sign of the resiliency the Bobcats have worked to develop during their down stretch.

“We are real hungry,” he said. “We kind of felt that we had something to prove to ourselves, not just to everybody else, that we’re a confident team.”

That poise oozed from beyond the arc Saturday, and is something the Bobcats will look to carry over into Wednesday’s matchup.

Ohio hit 11 of its 23 attempts from long distance — five of which came from the hot hand of junior guard Nick Kellogg, who finished with a game-high 22 points.

He said it was nice to shake his December slump, and that the breakout game was a testament to his teammates, who kept feeding him the ball when his shots weren’t dropping.

“It was nice to see it go in today,” he said.

Ohio coach Jim Christian was quick to say that little changes for the Bobcats heading into MAC play, other than that the team has to work on turning on it’s “A” game early and sticking it out for the remainder of the game.

“The only thing coming out of non-conference that we haven’t done is raise up and play harder (in) bigger games for 40 minutes,” he said. “It’s the only thing. Everything else is the same.”

 

UP NEXT:

 

OHIO (9-5) vs. Buffalo (5-9)

The Convo

7 p.m. Wednesday

TV: SportsTime Ohio

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