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Ohio Renews Rivalry With Akron In MAC Quarters

Bean Willis is averaging 14.8 ppg, 4.5 apg and shooting 58.3 percent from 3-point territory over Ohio's past four games.

March 13, 2014


CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Fifth-seeded Ohio University men’s basketball team (23-10, 11-7) brings a four-game winning streak into Thursday’s MAC Tournament quarterfinal bout with No. 4 Akron (20-11, 12-6) inside Quicken Loans Arena. The teams split a pair of regular season meetings, with each squad winning on the other’s home floor.

Tip-off between the Bobcats and Zips is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday’s game will be televised locally on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and streamed nationally on ESPN3. Michael Reghi will handle play-by-play duties, while Tony White will provide color commentary.

The game also 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 stream is available on OhioBobcats.com, with pre-game coverage beginnning at 6 p.m.

With a victory over the Zips, Ohio would advance to the semifinals and take on top-seeded Western Michigan on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Ohio has now advanced to the MAC Quarterfinals in each of the last 10 seasons. A win over Akron would send the Bobcats to the semifinals for the third-straight season. The Bobcats are 3-1 in just four all-time meetings against Akron in the MAC Tournament. The Bobcats have won two of the three matchups in the MAC title game (2010, 2012).

Last time out, Ohio dispatched of No. 8 seed Miami, 63-55, in second round action Wednesday at the Q. The ‘Cats trailed by four (43-39) with 10 minutes to play, but timely 3-point shooting from junior guards Stevie Taylor and Bean Willis helped Ohio surge in front for the victory. After shooting just 26.9 percent in the first half, the ‘Cats made 13-of-26 shots (.500) in the second half.

Senior guard Nick Kellogg (Westerville, Ohio) led Ohio with a game-high 20 points vs. Miami while adding seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and no turnovers in 39 minutes. Junior forward Maurice Ndour (Mbour, Senegal) added 12 points and eight rebounds for the ‘Cats.

Willis tallied 13 points (3-6 3pt FG), while Taylor added eight.

With Wednesday’s win over Miami, the 2013-14 Ohio senior class of T.J. Hall, Ricardo Johnson, Nick Kellogg, Jon Smith and Travis Wilkins surpassed last year’s senior contingent of D.J. Cooper, Walter Offutt, Reggie Keely, Ivo Baltic, David McKinley and Nick Goff. This season’s senior class has now recorded 95 career wins.

A LOOK AT AKRON ZIPS (20-11, 12-6)
The Zips are the No. 4 seed in the MAC Tournament and earned two byes into the quarterfinals. Akron won its final three MAC contests of the regular season, including home victories over BGSU (57-47), Buffalo (83-71) and Kent State (58-54). The team is paced by All-MAC First Team selection Demetrius Treadwell, who leads the team in scoring (14.7 ppg) and is fourth in the MAC with 8.8 rebounds per game. All-MAC Second Team selection Quincy Diggs paces the team in assists (2.6/game) and is second on the Zips in scoring with 12.2 ppg. Akron is coached by Keith Dambrot, who has accumulated a 229-105 (.686) mark in 10 seasons.

Ohio has posted a 39-26 record (.600) all-time in the MAC Tournament, including wins over Ball State (first round) and Miami (second round) this season. The Bobcats are playing in their 33rd MAC Tournament in 2013-14. The Green & White have won two of the past four league tournaments and have posted a 12-2 record (.857) in their past 14 games in the event. The MAC Championship began in 1980 and Ohio first qualified for the event in 1981 as the No. 7 seed, falling to No. 2 Ball State, 85-70, in the quarterfinals. Last season, No. 2 Ohio defeated No. 3 WMU, 74-63, in the semifinals, before falling to top seed Akron, 65-46, in the final.

The Bobcats and Zips will meet for the 72nd time on the hardwood Saturday. Ohio holds a 36-35 lead in the all-time series. The teams have split two meetings this season. The ‘Cats won in Akron, 66-50, on Feb. 22, while the Zips captured the Athens meeting, 83-80, on Jan. 12 in double overtime. Ohio’s victory in Akron snapped a four-game winning streak by the Zips in the series. Ohio and Akron first met during the 1911-12 season, with the Zips earning a 21-18 win in Athens. The two teams have met in three of the past four MAC Tournament finals, with Ohio winning two of the three contests (2010, 2012).

If Ohio defeats Akron on Thursday, the ‘Cats will face top-seeded Western Michigan on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in semifinal action at Quicken Loans Arena. The Broncos won both meetings between the teams this season.