Men's Basketball: Tigers claw too many turnovers from Bobcats’ paws

Ohio guard D.J. Cooper drives to the basket past Robert Morris defender Velton Jones. The Ohio Bobcats were defeated Dec. 1 by the Robert Morris Colonials at the Sewall Center in Moon Township, Penn. The ’Cats lost their second game in a row Wednesday in Memphis. (Daniel Kubus | File Photo)

Ohio waited until Thursday morning to make a return flight from Memphis. It was probably a good thing, as the Bobcats couldn’t have handled much more turbulence than they experienced in their blowout loss to the Tigers Wednesday.

Memphis (5-2) cruised to an 84-58 win, handing the Bobcats (6-2) their worst loss since falling to Kansas by 57 in the 2010 Las Vegas Invitational.

The loss was the Bobcats’ second straight, and marked the first time since 2010 they had been defeated twice in a row in nonconference play.

Ohio led by as much as six early in the game before allowing its opponent to mount a 24-16 run to end the opening half, complete with a stretch in which it did not score for more than four minutes.

Ohio coach Jim Christian said he thought the Bobcats were playing smart leading into the stretch, but turnovers did them in from that point on.

“If you let them become confident by turning the ball over in the open floor leading to layups and dunks, they’re going to look pretty good,” he said.
And boy, did the Tigers look good.

Memphis junior guard Geron Johnson exploded for 21 points on eight-of-11 shooting. His partner in crime, freshman forward Shaq Goodwin, had 20 points and nine rebounds.

The duo had averaged a cumulative 14 points in the Tigers’ previous six games.
The tale of the tape favored Memphis in every category except for foul shooting, as the Tigers feasted off Ohio turnovers to connect on more than 50 percent of their field goal attempts.

Memphis converted Ohio’s 17 turnovers into 23 points, while Ohio cashed in only four points on the Tigers’ nine mishandles.

The Tigers’ real damage was done in the paint, where they put up 48 points — more than double Ohio’s output down low. They also had 17 second-chance points as a result of 11 offensive rebounds.

Ohio redshirt junior forward Jon Smith was the Bobcats’ most efficient offensive threat, as he drained four of his six attempts from the floor in a 12-point, seven rebound performance.

Fellow big man Reggie Keely, a senior forward, was largely ineffective, totaling four points and as many rebounds in 17 minutes.

Christian sang the praises for Smith, who has been stalwart for the Bobcats this season.

“Jon is the most solid guy on our team,” he said.

Ohio senior guard D.J. Cooper had his sixth-straight game with 10 or more points, but was not at his best in terms of distribution, as he had only four fruitful dishes. He finished with 19 points.

Smith said heading into the game that the Bobcats would be judged nationally for their performance against Memphis — their most high-profile nonconference opponent.

There’s no doubt a fair amount had little hesitation jumping off the Ohio bandwagon judging on what they saw Wednesday. However, for Christian and company, everything goes on like business as usual heading into a game against Oakland Saturday.

“Every game is going to be big, and we have to make sure we continue to get better,” Christian said.

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