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Ohio Wraps Up Homestand Wednesday vs. Ball State

OHIOBOBCATS.COM Jon Smith recorded a career-best eight blocks Sunday vs. Akron.
Jon Smith recorded a career-best eight blocks Sunday vs. Akron.

Jan. 14, 2014


ATHENS, Ohio –
The Ohio University men’s basketball team (11-4, 1-1) plays its first MAC West opponent this season when Ball State (3-10, 0-2) invades the Convocation Center on Wednesday.

Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. The game will be televised locally on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and broadcast nationally on ESPN3. Michael Reghi will handle play-by-play duties, while Tony White will provide color commentary. Ohio fans can also listen to the contest live on the Ohio IMG Sports Network, with “Voice of the Bobcats” Russ Eisenstein and Rob Cornelius on the call. Pre-game coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Ohio is 34-14 (.708) against the MAC West Division in regular season contests since the start of the 2005-06 campaign. Ohio swept the MAC West (6-0) last season for the first time since divisional play began in 1997-98.

Last time out, Ohio put forth a stellar effort but could not get by Akron in double overtime, falling to the Zips 83-80 in the Convo Sunday. The ‘Cats were up four (70-66) with 22 seconds left in the first overtime but Akron rallied to tie it, then out-scored Ohio 12-9 in the second extra session.

Junior forward Maurice Ndour led Ohio with a career-high 25 points (8-14 FG) and grabbed six rebounds, while senior Nick Kellogg posted 19 points for the second-straight game. Kellogg ranks fifth in the MAC in scoring (15.3 ppg), while Ndour is sixth (15.2 ppg).

Senior forward Jon Smith (Grove City, Ohio) posted a career-best eight blocks to go along with five points, seven rebounds and three steals vs. Akron. His eight blocks were the most by a Bobcat in 13 years (Patrick Flomo posted eight on Jan. 17, 2001).

Through nine home games this season, Ohio has averaged 6,386 fans per game, which is No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference by a significant margin. Toledo ranks second in the league, averaging 4,411 fans per game. The Bobcats also led the conference in attendance last season, and Ohio’s cumulative attendance of 124,782 in 2012-13 was the top mark in program history.

Ohio is 7-2 in home games this season. The ‘Cats are performing well above their season averages in a number of offensive categories in games played at the Convo. The Green & White are shooting 45.1 percent while enjoying a +13.2 average scoring margin in home contests, compared to 42.4 percent shooting (136-321) and a -3.5 margin on the road. The Bobcats also average 16.0 assists/game in the Convo, compared to 10.7/game in road contests. Defensively, Ohio is limiting its opponents to 39.4 percent shooting at home. Ohio will play two of its next three Mid-American Conference contests inside the Convo.

A LOOK AT BALL STATE (3-10, 0-2)
The Cardinals were picked to finish fourth out of six teams in the MAC West Division in the league’s preseason poll. Ball State finished non-conference play with a 3-8 record, before dropping its first two conference games to Akron (72-68) and Kent State (86-74).

Ball State is paced offensively by Zavier Turner, who leads the team with 12.7 points per game and is making a MAC-high 2.2 3-pointers/game. The freshman also leads the country in free throw percentage (.950) and is shooting 46 percent (29-63) from 3-point territory. Preseason All-MAC pick Majok Majok is second on the team with 11.5 ppg and ranks 10th nationally with 10.5 rebounds per contest. The senior also ranks in the top-30 nationally with six double-doubles on the year. The Cardinals are coached by James Whitford, who spent the last two seasons as the associate head coach for the currently top-ranked Arizona Wildcats.

The Bobcats and Cardinals will meet for the 76th time Wednesday. The Green & White hold a 41-34 (.547) edge in the all-time series and have won four of the past five meetings. The teams first met during the 1934-35 season, with the Cardinals earning a 31-30 victory in Muncie. Last season, Ohio knocked off Ball State, 69-42, in Muncie on Feb. 6. Jon Smith led Ohio with four blocks in the contest while T.J. Hall tallied 10 points off the bench for the Bobcats.

Ohio hits the road to play its second MAC West opponent in as many games. The ‘Cats will battle Northern Illinois in DeKalb on Saturday (Jan. 18) at 8 p.m. (ET). The game will air live on the Ohio IMG Sports Network, with pre-game coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m.