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Ohio Closes Regular Season at Miami

Ivo Baltic and the Bobcats close the regular season at Miami tomorrow evening.

March 1, 2012

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ATHENS, OHIO - The Ohio Bobcats (23-7, 10-5) close the regular season at arch-rival Miami (9-19, 5-10) on Friday evening. The 'Cats would lock up at least a bye to the quarterfinals of the 2012 MAC Tournament next week with a victory over the RedHawks.

You can also hear all the action at 7 p.m. as Voice of the Bobcats Russ Eisenstein will have the play-by-play call on the Citizens Banks IMG Ohio Sports Network with Rob Cornelius providing the color commentary.

The Bobcats are currently one game behind Buffalo for the No. 2 seed, which also serves as a bye to the MAC Tournament semifinals. Ohio is tied with Kent State and currently holds the tie-breaker against the Golden Flashes. Bowling Green and MAC West Division champion Eastern Michigan are each one game behind the 'Cats.

 - The most played series of any in Ohio basketball history; Friday marks the 189th meeting between Miami and Ohio with the Bobcats holding a 97-91 lead
 - The all-time series dates back to the 1907-08 season and Miami swept the series from Ohio last season for the first time since 1998
 - Ohio has won once at Millett Hall since 2003 and is 12-31 all-time
 - Last season in Oxford, Ohio lost 66-56 despite putting four players in double figures. The Bobcats shot under 40 percent and were 4-of-18 on three-pointers
 - Ivo Baltic led the Green & White, finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds and D.J. Cooper had 14 points and five rebounds
 - The RedHawks shot 24 of 27 from the free-throw line (88.9 percent) in the second half to seal the win. Ohio committed 26 fouls and Miami made a season-high 30-of-33 free-throw attempts (90.9 percent)
Ohio held Miami to two field goals over the final 11:49 of the contest. However, Miami scored 22 points from the free-throw line during that time and for the game, committed a season-low eight turnovers
 - Ohio has dropped four of its last five road games against MAC East foes
 - In MAC play, the ‘Cats are 2-5 on the road, shooting 38 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc. Opponents are shooting 45 and 33 percent respectively and are also a +5.3 in rebound margin 
- Earlier this season, Baltic scored a game-high 20 points to lead Ohio past Miami on Gary Trent Day, 69-65. He was one of four Bobcat players in double figures; Walter Offutt (15), Cooper (13, 10 in second half) Reggie Keely (11, all in second half)
- Ohio shot 52 percent from the field in the second half to battle back from a 12-point deficit
- The Redhawks shot 67 percent from the field and hit 8-of-11 triples (73 percent) in the first half but only 17 percent of their three-point tries in the second half
- Ohio has reached the 20-win mark for the 13th time in program history and second time under current Head Coach John Groce
 - This year’s team became the fastest Bobcat squad to win 20 games. The 1994-95 team held the mark, capturing their 20th victory on Feb. 22 against Western Michigan
 - The 1993-94 team holds the school record for wins as it went 25-8 and reached the NIT
 - Ohio 12-1 start to the season tied the best start for a program in team history, matching the 1920-21 and 1939-40 squads
 - The Bobcats are fifth in the nation in turnover margin (+4.7) and seventh in steals per contest (9.3) while ranking 11th nationally in guarding the perimeter (28.8%)
 - Ohio is also excelling in turning its opponents over, ranking No. 1 in the nation in turnover percentage according to KenPom’s national standings (27.4%)
 - This year’s Bobcat team is ranked third all-time, limiting its opponents to 62.5 points per game. The 1983-84 team holds the record at 58.7 points per game
 - Overall, the record for the Bobcats under Coach Groce when they are able to hold their opponents under 70 points is 58-19 (.753)

The Battle of the Bricks is an annual all-sports series between the Ohio University Bobcats and the Miami University RedHawks. Founded in 1804 and 1809, both Ohio and Miami are well known for their beautiful red brick campuses as well as their competition in both the classroom and on the athletic field.

Ohio and Miami’s first athletic meeting was a men’s basketball game during the 1907-1908 season. Miami was victorious in that first meeting by a final score of 27-8.

Later in 1908, the Bobcats and RedHawks battled for the first time on the football gridiron with Miami coming away with the victory by a count of 5-0.

The modern rivalry began in 1947 when Miami joined Ohio in the Mid-American Conference. Since then, the two schools have been meeting several times a year in both Athens and Oxford to battle in athletic competition.

The Official Battle of the Bricks Series started in 2002-03 as a means to further strengthen and promote the historic competitive rivalry between Ohio University and Miami University.

The key player for the RedHawks is definitely senior forward Julian Mavunga. In addition to averaging league-leading 16.9 ppg and 9.1 rpg in a league-most 37.3 minutes per game, Mavunga is also helping to get his teammates shots, averaging 4.3 assists per game in MAC play, which ranks eighth among league leaders.

In the latest NCAA statistical rankings (minimum of 2.5 made per game), freshman guard Brian Sullivan ranks fourth in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage, knocking down 48.1 percent of his shots from long range. The percentage also would rank second on Miami single-season list, trailing only Wally Szczerbiak’s 49.2 3-point field goal percentage in 1997-98.

One of the hottest hands as of late for the RedHawks has been sophomore forward Jon Harris. He has gone 21-of-32 from 3-point range in the RedHawks’ last seven games, as sizzling 65.6 percent accuracy from long range. He also knocked down 62.7 percent of his field goals while averaging 12.4 ppg over the last seven games. Harris has scored in double figures in five of Miami’s last six games, averaging 13.7 ppg during that stretch, and nailed at least two triples in each of those five contests.

After trailing by 18, Ohio rallied in the second half but could not complete the comeback, falling at Kent State, 68-61, on Wednesday night. The loss dropped the Bobcats back to the No. 3 position in the Mid-American Conference standings.

D.J. Cooper carried an Ohio offense that shot only 36 percent, with a season-high 23 points. The junior also registered five rebounds and four assists which leaves him two shy of the Ohio all-time mark. 

Nick Kellogg finished with 10 points for Ohio, T.J. Hall added eight points and four rebounds and Walter Offutt had eight points. Jon Smith had six points, five rebounds and four steals while Reggie Keely grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

However, the Ohio post players struggled offensively as Keely had only four points and six turnovers and Ivo Baltic was just 1 of 7 with four points and four fouls. Ohio’s 14-point halftime deficit was its worst this season, and the 41 points allowed were the most given up in MAC play by the ‘Cats.

Walter Offutt was named the Mid-American Conference’s East Division Player of the Week on Monday by the league offices. The junior guard was honored by the conference for the first time in his career and Ohio has won the award consecutive weeks.

Offutt and the Bobcats went 2-0 against Buffalo and Akron, becoming the only MAC East team to win both their games on the week. The Indianapolis native scored a career-high 23 points on a record five three-pointers against the Bulls in Buffalo.

The junior also added seven boards as the ‘Cats out-rebounded the Bulls. UB ranks eighth in the nation in rebound margin.

On Sunday night, Offutt had 14 points and five rebounds in a blowout home win over the league-leading Zips. For the week, Offutt led Ohio in scoring and rebounding while shooting 60 percent from the field and 64 percent from three-point range (7-of-11).

D.J. Cooper was named the Mid-American Conference’s East Division Player of the Week by the league offices on Feb. 20. The junior guard was honored by the conference for the second time this season and seventh time of his career.

Cooper scored a season-high 22 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists in the win against Bowling Green. Then, against UNC-Asheville, the Cousy Award finalist scored only six points but dished out eight assists, his highest total since his triple-double earlier this season against Portland.

Cooper is now two assists shy of breaking the Ohio all-time mark which has stood since 1990 (Dennis Whitaker, 651). The junior already owns Ohio’s top two single-season marks (263 in 10-11, 218 in 2009-10).

Cooper is one of 33 1,000-point scorers in Ohio history. His 422 points this season have seen him move past former teammates DeVaughn Washington and Tommy Freeman, as well as Fred Moore, Lewis Geter, Frankie Baumholtz, John Canine, Bunk Adams, Jerry Jackson, Don Hilt, Sonny Troutman,  Kirk Lehman, Gerald McKee, Vic Alexander, Robert Tatum, Curtis Simmons, Sanjay Adell and Steve Esterkamp with 1,472 career points.

His 244 steals currently rank him second all-time as he passed former ‘Cats Paul Graham and Dennis Whitaker this season. Cooper now trails only all-time leader Sonny Troutman’s Ohio record, 259. Cooper also owns the single-season mark in that category (93 in 2009-10) and currently ranks 15th nationally with an average of 2.3 steals per game.

20-10 CLUB
Two weeks ago, Ohio won its 20th game of the season. The Bobcats became the first team from the Mid-American Conference to reach that mark this season. Of the 13 Division 1 men’s basketball programs in the state of Ohio, the Bobcats were the third team to reach the 20-win plateau along with nationally-ranked Ohio State and Cleveland State.

This season on the gridiron, Ohio Football won 10 games for the first time since 1968 and captured the first bowl win in school history. Currently, 10 other Division 1 schools can boast a 10-win football team and a 20-win basketball team (Alabama, Baylor, BYU, Cincinnati, Kansas State, Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon, Southern Mississippi and Wisconsin).