ATHENS, Ohio- The Ohio University men's basketball team (6-1) clinched the Ohio Classic title and improved to 5-0 at home this season with an 81-59 win over visiting Evansville (5-2) Saturday afternoon in the Convocation Center.
The Bobcats finished the Ohio Classic with a 4-0 record to capture the title of the round-robin event. The Green & White are now 6-1 for the second-straight season.
Senior Nick Kellogg (Westerville, Ohio) led all Ohio scorers with 13 points and connected on 5-of-9 attempts from the floor (3-of-4 from the 3-point range).
Teammates Ricardo Johnson (Covington, Ky.), Javarez Willis (Homer, La.) and Travis Wilkins (Springfield, Mo.) also finished in double figures as they put up 12, 12 and 10 points respectively. Ohio held a 35-14 edge in bench scoring for the game.
As a team, Ohio shot 48.4 percent from the field and limited Evansville to just 37.7 percent from the floor. The Bobcats have held five of their opponents to less than 40 percent shooting this season.
The Bobcats also limited their opponent to under 30 percent shooting from beyond the arc for the fifth time this season. Ohio held the Purple Aces to a 21.4 percent (3-14) clip, a season-low by a Bobcat opponent. Evansville had come into the game averaging 51.8 percent shooting from the floor and 45.1 percent from 3-point land.
The Bobcats also held the nation’s fifth-leading scorer – D.J. Balentine (27.0 ppg) – to just 15 points in the contest.
The Bobcats were +9 (40-31) on the glass in the game and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds. Senior Jon Smith (Grove City, Ohio) and junior Maurice Ndour (Mbour, Senegal) each pulled down a team-best six rebounds in the contest.
Ohio made five of its first seven shots and led 16-8 at the 14:05 mark of the first half after a transition dunk from Johnson. Over the next seven minutes Ohio doubled up the Aces (14-7), and a jump shot from Smith capped an 8-0 Ohio run that extended the Bobcats' edge to 17 (30-13) at the 7:19 mark of the first half.
A nice drive and finish, followed by a 3-pointer from Willis gave Ohio a 42-24 lead, and the Bobcats entered the half ahead, 42-26.
Ohio limited Evansville to just 36 percent shooting (9-25) in the half and forced 10 turnovers that lead to 12 Ohio points. Smith led the Bobcats with eight points in the stanza.
The Green & White extended their lead to 19 (52-33) on a coast-to-coast drive from Willis and went ahead by 23 (61-38) at the 11:52 mark of the second half after back-to-back triples from Kellogg. Ohio pushed the lead to 34 (77-43) after two 3-pointers from Wilkins.
Evansville could not move closer than 20 points for the remainder of the contest.
The Bobcats have a week off before hitting the road to take on new Horizon League member Oakland (0-7) on Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. in Rochester, Mich. The game will be broadcast live on the Ohio IMG Sports Network, with live video also available on the Horizon League Network. Ohio leads the all-time series with the Golden Grizzlies, 4-1.