Dec. 10, 2005
KINGSTON, R.I. -
For the first time since the 1999-2000 season, the Ohio men's basketball is undefeated after four games following a 71-63 victory at Rhode Island on Saturday.
Mychal Green (Columbus, Ohio) led the Bobcats with 23 points while Leon Williams (Baltimore, Md.) added 18, Jeremy Fears (Joliet, Ill.) contributed 16 and Whitney Davis (Ann Arbor, Mich.) chipped in 12.
Ohio got off to a slow start, making only one of its first eight shots from the floor. Midway through the opening period, the Bobcats were 3-of-16 from the field and trailed the Rams 14-7.
Amidst a 15-5 Ohio run, Fears gave the Bobcats their first lead of the game, 20-19, with a three-point play at the 4:48 mark. Williams then scored six of Ohio's next eight points before Davis scored five straight to give the Bobcats a 33-24 halftime advantage.
"Early on, we were getting great shots but nobody could buy a basket," said Ohio head coach Tim O'Shea about the first half. "The last 10 minutes, though, our defense became our best offense and we were able to create some transition baskets."
In the second half, Rhode Island (5-2) started to cut into the lead as Williams drew two early fouls. Shortly after the sophomore forward picked up his fourth personal foul at the 13:15 mark, The Rams pulled within one at 43-42 with 12 minutes to play.
After three straight points from Fears, a Will Daniels three-pointer cut the lead back down to one but Davis answered with a three-pointer of his own to make it 49-45 with 8:58 remaining.
Following a layup by Green and then a Jimmy Baron three-pointer that reduced the Bobcat lead to three, Fears drilled a three-pointer and a free-throw. Davis then added a steal and layup to push the advantage back up to nine at 57-48 with 5:13 on the clock.
"Whitney Davis came off the bench and was huge for us," O'Shea said about junior guard. "That's two games in a row that he's done that. He's really becoming a valuable sixth man for us."
Six points was as close as Rhode Island would get the rest of the way but Green, Fears, Williams and Sonny Troutman (Indianapolis, Ind.) led a 13-11 charge to finish the game.
The 23 points by Green marked a season-high and a team-best 12th straight game in double-figures for the senior guard. With 18 points and 13 rebounds, Williams registered his first double-double of the season and the 10th of his young career. And in addition to his 16 points, Fears added four assists and a season-high six steals.
"When you look at Mychal, Sonny, Leon and Jeremy, you're talking about big-time players," said O'Shea. "They played like it tonight, Mychal especially. He kind of thrives on the crowd yelling at him. Our guys are much better when there's a crowd like this and people are really on our backs."
For the game, Ohio made 22-of-50 (44.0 percent) attempts from the field while shooting 7-for-20 (35.0 percent) from three-point range and 20-for-25 (80.0 percent) from the free-throw line. The Rams, meanwhile, shot 27-of-63 (42.9 percent) from the floor, 4-of-15 (26.7 percent) from behind the arc and 5-of-7 (71.4 percent) from the charity stripe.
Rhode Island held a 39-29 advantage in rebounds and a 4-3 edge in blocks but the Bobcats dominated in steals, 12-3, and points off turnovers, 21-8.
"I was really proud of the way we were able to overcome Leon's foul trouble and win in a really tough environment," O'Shea said. "I was really proud of the effort today. That was a tremendous road win."
Ohio remains on the road Wednesday with a game at Cincinnati, who improved to 4-2 with an impressive 92-83 victory at previously undefeated Vanderbilt on Saturday. The Bobcats are set to tip-off against the Bearcats at 8 p.m. in Fifth Third Arena.