ATHENS, Ohio - Walter Offutt matched his career-high with 17 points to lead Ohio in a 71-63 win over Kennesaw State on Friday night, tying the Bobcats best start ever. Ohio matched its all-time mark of 12-1 to begin the season set by the 1939-40 and 1920-21 squads.
Ivo Baltic scored 15 points and once again, finished one rebound shy of a double-double. D.J. Cooper and Nick Kellogg chipped in 14 apiece for Ohio. Cooper also had seven assists.
The Owls (3-10), playing their eighth-straight game on the road, were led by Markeith Cummings and Delbert Love with 19 points each. Spencer Dixon added 14 points for Kennesaw State, which played for the first time ever in the state of Ohio.
It was the ninth straight win for the Bobcats and 13th in a row at home. Ohio has now held its opponents to fewer than 70 points in six consecutive games. The 'Cats had 12 steals, including four by Kellogg, in forcing 16 Kennesaw State turnovers. Ohio scored 22 points off the miscues.
Offutt kept the Bobcats in it early, connecting on three-consecutive tries from beyond the arc for nine of the team's first 14 points. Trailing 14-11, Offutt's third triple ignited an 11-0 run by the home team to take an eight-point lead at the under-eight media timeout.
The Owls would rally and cut the gap to one at intermission, holding the Bobcats to one field goal over the final 7:50 of the half. Both teams shot 45 percent in the first half with Kennesaw State canning six triples. Baltic had eight of his points in the first 20 minutes and Cooper collected four points, three assists and three steals.
Coming out of the lockers, Kellogg caught fire for the Green & White, knocking down consecutive three-pointers to push the lead back to seven at 37-30 with 15:50 to play. However, Love scored eight-straight points for KSU and Cummings slammed home two more to tie the game, 42-42 at 12:30.
Another Kellogg three-ball followed and Ohio regained an advantage before the defense picked up. Jon Smith made two blocks that led to easy run-outs and the 'Cats took a 12-point lead at 56-44 with under nine minutes showing. A long three from Cooper seemed to be the nail in the coffin as Ohio took its largest lead of 15 with 3:26 remaining in the contest.
It is a quick turnaround for the team as it hosts Robert Morris on Monday, January 2 at 7 p.m. in the first game of 2012.