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Ohio Hosts Rematch With Western Michigan Wednesday

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OHIOBOBCATS.COM Jon Smith is averaging 9.0 points and 10.0 rebounds over Ohio's past two contests.
Jon Smith is averaging 9.0 points and 10.0 rebounds over Ohio's past two contests.

Feb. 18, 2014


ATHENS, Ohio – The Ohio University men’s basketball team (18-7, 8-4) returns to Athens for a critical Mid-American Conference cross-over matchup with Western Michigan (16-8, 9-3) Wednesday.

Tip-off inside the Convocation Center is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday’s game will be broadcast live on the Ohio IMG Sports Network, with “Voice of the Bobcats” Russ Eisenstein and Rob Cornelius on the call. A live audio/video stream is available on OhioBobcats.com, with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m.

With Western Michigan currently holding the top-spot in the Mid-American Conference and Ohio sitting in fourth, Wednesday’s game will be significant in the race for the 2013-14 MAC regular season title.

Last time out, Ohio rallied from a 10-point deficit (63-53) with 9:47 to play to defeat Buffalo, 73-70, on Saturday at Alumni Arena. Ohio trailed by one with 2:23 to play, but freshman Antonio Campbell posted Ohio’s final two buckets and the ‘Cats denied the Bulls on their last four possessions.

Senior guard Nick Kellogg and junior forward Maurice Ndour each posted 17 points to lead Ohio. Ndour also swatted five shots for the second time this season, while Kellogg hit three 3-pointers. He is now just 12 away from passing D.J. Cooper (274) and becoming Ohio’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made.

Senior guard Travis Wilkins (Springfield, Mo.) continued his torrid pace from beyond the arc, knocking down 2-of-4 triples against Buffalo. Wilkins leads the MAC in 3-point field goal percentage (.481) in league play and has made 13 of his past 19 attempts (.684).

Junior Javarez Willis filled in for the injured Stevie Taylor at point guard and performed well in his first career start. Willis posted nine points (2-5 3pt FG), a season-best five assists, four rebounds and just two turnovers in 38 minutes.

With Saturday’s victory, Ohio has now overcome a second-half deficit of 10+ points in seven of its last 15 games. The ‘Cats are 7-5 when trailing at the half this season.

Ohio is ranked No. 66 in Monday’s NCAA RPI report. The Bobcats are 2-3 against RPI Top 50 teams and 4-4 against the RPI Top-100. In comparison, Ohio was 0-6 vs. the RPI Top 50 and 1-8 against Top-100 teams during the team’s 24-10 season in 2012-13.

The first 1,000 students at Wednesday’s game will receive a fleece blanket compliments of Ohio University athletics.

Ohio has averaged 18.0 assists/game over the past five contests and is second in the MAC with 14.7 assists/game this season. Ohio is 11-2 when distributing 15 or more dimes in 2013-14.

The Broncos are tied for first in the MAC West with a 9-3 mark and have posted a 16-8 overall record on the season. WMU has won five straight games. The Broncos are 11-2 at home this season, but just 3-6 away from University Arena (3-2 in conference play).

WMU ranks second in the conference in field goal percentage (.457) and third in opponent 3-point field goal percentage (.302). Western Michigan is led by senior guard David Brown, who leads the MAC in scoring with 18.4 points per game. Senior center Shayne Whittington is fourth in the league in rebounding (8.6 rpg) and also averages 15.0 points per game for the Broncos (6th in MAC). Sophomore forward Connar Tava is the team’s leading assists man (2.8 apg) and leads the MAC in field goal percentage (.617) this season. The Broncos are coached by Steve Hawkins, who is 197-153 (.563) in 11 seasons in Kalamazoo.

The Bobcats and Broncos will meet on the hardwood for the 126th time and the second time in two weeks on Wednesday. WMU is Ohio’s fourth most common opponent all time. The ‘Cats hold a 65-60 edge in the all-time series and have won five of the last seven matchups. WMU has not won in Athens in more than 14 years (1/22/00). The teams first met during the 1939-40 season, with Ohio earning a 60-40 victory. Ohio swept the season series in 2012-13, but dropped a 90-74 matchup in Kalamazoo on Feb. 5. Junior Maurice Ndour led Ohio with 20 points in the contest.

Ohio travels to Northeast Ohio for a monster re-match with East Division-leading Akron (17-8, 9-3) on Saturday (Feb. 22) at the J.A.R. Tip-off between the Bobcats and Zips is scheduled for 6 p.m. The game will be televised locally on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and streamed across the country on ESPN3. In addition, the contest will be broadcast live on the Ohio IMG Sports Network, with pre-game coverage beginning at 5:30 p.m.