MUNCIE, Ind. - The Ohio University men's basketball team (16-6, 7-1 MAC) put together its strongest defensive effort of the season Wednesday night, as the Bobcats defeated Ball State, 69-42, at Worthen Arena in Muncie, Ind.
With the win, Ohio improved to 7-1 in MAC play for the first time since the 1998-99 season and 4-1 in road league contests for the first time since 2001-02.
The Bobcats held the Cardinals to a season-low 42 points and just 26.5 (13-49) percent shooting from the floor. Both marks also were season-lows for an Ohio opponent this season.
Senior guard Walter Offutt (Indianapolis, Ind.) led Ohio with 17 points and added four rebounds, three assists and a season-high four steals. Junior guard T.J. Hall (Gainesville, Fla.) added 10 points, while senior forward Ivo Baltic (Kansas City, Mo.) posted eight points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Senior forward Reggie Keely (University Heights, Ohio) added nine points and seven rebounds, while junior forward Jon Smith (Columbus, Ohio) anchored the defensive effort with six points and a game-high four blocks.
Senior guard D.J. Cooper (Chicago, Ill.) registered five points, five assists and four steals in his 127th career start, which tied him with Leon Williams ('08) for the most starts in program history. Cooper needs just eight more steals to move into a tie for 25th place on the all-time NCAA Division I steals list.
The `Cats posted 14 steals on the night and forced Ball State (8-13, 2-7 MAC) to commit 22 turnovers. Ohio also held advantages in points in the paint (28-16), points off turnovers (26-9), fast break points (11-4) and bench scoring (25-8).
Ohio scored seven of the game's first eight points and led 13-3 at the 15:44 mark after a 3-pointer from Offutt. Ohio moved ahead, 18-5, on a jumper by Baltic and extended its advantage to 16 (22-6) on two free throws from Cooper.
Ball State moved back within 11 (24-13) with 5:42 to play in the half, but Ohio pushed its advantage back to 16 (29-13) after Offutt connected on his third 3-pointer of the half.
Ohio closed the half on a 10-0 run and led 34-14 at the break.
Ball State's 14 first-half points marked the lowest total for an Ohio opponent in a half this season. The `Cats held the Cardinals to just 25.0 percent shooting (5-20) in the stanza and turned 15 Ball State turnovers into 19 points. Hall led Ohio with 10 points (4-6 FG) in the half.
Ohio posted the first six points of the second half to extend its lead to 26 (40-14), but seven-straight points from Ball State cut the Ohio advantage to 19 (40-21) at the 16;01 mark. From there, the `Cats posted the next six points and led by 27 (53-26) on a 3-pointer by junior guard Nick Kellogg (Westerville, Ohio) with 9:04 to go in the game.
The Cats took their largest lead (29) on free throws by Offutt and Ball State could not move closer than 24 (57-33) for the remainder of the contest.
The Green and White finished their four-game conference road trip with a 3-1 record. It marked the longest consecutive stretch of MAC road games in program history.
Ohio returns home for the first of two games against Bowling Green on Saturday (Feb. 9) at 2 p.m. "Voice of the Bobcats" Russ Eisenstein and Rob Cornelius will call the game live on the Ohio IMG Sports Network powered by Horizon, with streaming audio and video available on OhioBobcats.com. Pre-game coverage begins 30 minutes prior to tip-off (1:30 p.m.).