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Bobcats Battle UNC in Sweet 16 Tomorrow

T.J. Hall and the Bobcats play UNC tomorrow evening in St. Louis.

March 22, 2012

NCAA Tournament Central

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ST. LOUIS, MO. - The Ohio University men's basketball team will play the North Carolina Tar Heels tomorrow evening in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bobcats, making their first appearance in the regionals since 1964, tip-off at 6:47 CT (7:47 ET) on TBS.

The UNC-Ohio winner will advance to the Regional Finals (Elite 8) and face the winner of Kansas- NC State on Sunday (March 25) for a spot in the Final Four in New Orleans, La. Game times are TBA.

Marv Albert, Steve Kerr and Craig Sager will have the call on TBS and former Bobcat coach Fran Fraschilla will be one of the commentators on the radio call via Dial Global One/SiriusXM. As always, you can hear all the action 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.

- This is Ohio’s first trip to the Sweet 16 since the NCAA Tournament expanded to its current format
- The only other time Ohio won multiple games in the NCAA Tournament was 1964 when it reached the regional finals
- This is 13th NCAA Tournament appearance for the Bobcats who won their sixth Mid-American Conference title since 1983
- The Bobcats have a 7-13 all-time record (lost a Regional Third Place Game in 1960) and are making their second trip to the tournament under Head Coach John Groce
- Ohio has now won a postseason game in three straight years, the longest streak in program history
- Ohio is the lowest seed to make the Sweet 16 since 2005 (No.13 Bradley) and since seeding was implemented it has been a double-digit seed every time, topping out as a No. 11 seed in 1983
- The Bobcats became the sixth team to win tournament games as both a 13 and 14 seed (they beat Georgetown as a 14 seed two seasons ago
- Since 2004, Ohio is 3-2 in tournament play. All other MAC teams are a combined 0-6.
- The Bobcats have 29 wins on the season, surpassing the previous single-season mark of 25 set by the 1993-94 team
- Ohio’s 12-1 start to the season tied the best start for a program in team history and reached the 20-win mark for the 13th time in program history
- The Bobcats are fourth in the nation in steals per contest (9.3), sixth in the nation in turnover margin (+4.2) and rank 11th nationally in guarding the perimeter (29.3%)
- 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 62.2 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 62-19 (.765)
- When referring to the Bobcats, please use Ohio or Ohio University, not Ohio U or OU. Thank you!

Top-seeded North Carolina (31-5) defeated eighth-seeded Creighton 87-73 last Sunday afternoon in the third round of the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional in Greensboro. UNC is a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the 14th time and the fifth time under Williams. The Tar Heels are 49-9 as a No. 1 seed.

The Tar Heels are making their 31st appearance in an NCAA Sweet 16 game and are 24-6 in Sweet 16 contests. UNC has won 10 consecutive Sweet 16 games and is 5-0 in the Sweet 16 under head coach Roy Williams. A win over Ohio on Friday would send Carolina to its 25th appearance in an NCAA regional final and its sixth in nine seasons under head coach Williams. Carolina has won 18 of its last 20 games in NCAA Tournament regional play.

The Tar Heels saw first-team All-ACC forward and two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year John Henson return to the lineup in Sunday’s third round win over Creighton after missing three games with a sprained left wrist. As Henson returned to the lineup against Creighton, point guard Kendall Marshall went down with a wrist injury of his own. Marshall fell hard, breaking a scaphoid bone in his right wrist.

The Tar Heels are seeking their third NCAA championship in the last eight years under head coach Roy Williams, having won the 2005 national title in St. Louis and the 2009 championship in Detroit.

D.J. Cooper scored a game-high 21 points to lead Ohio to a thrilling 65-60 victory over Michigan Friday night at Bridgestone Arena. Cooper was one of four Bobcats, which finished in double figures joining Walter Offutt, Ivo Baltic and Reggie Keely, who finished with 11, 10 and 10 points, respectively.

Ohio out-shot Michigan 51.2-40.7 percent from the field as it held Michigan to six points under its season average of 66.5 points per game. The Bobcats never trailed in the second half of the game and held Michigan without a field goal in the final four minutes of the game to secure the victory. Ohio led by as many as 13 points in the first half.

On Sunday, Offutt scored a game-high 21 points to lead Ohio past South Florida 62-56 on Sunday night. Ohio rallied back from a six-point halftime deficit, out-scoring the Bulls 41-29 in the second half. Ohio shot 50.0 percent from the field, including 62.5 percent from the beyond the arc. Three of Ohio’s five second half 3-point field goals came from Offutt and two came from Nick Kellogg

The Bobcats were out-rebounded 33-25, but limited Ohio held USF to just 13.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Ohio also held a slight edge in turnovers (9-10). Ohio’s second half rally marked just the third time this season it had come back to win after trailing at the half.

D.J. Cooper averaged 20 points, 6.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds in the two Bobcat wins over Michigan and South Florida. The junior guard shot 52.2 percent from the field, 41.7 from three-point land and 78.6 percent from the stripe. He is averaging 19.8 points and 6.4 assists over the last five games.

Teammate Walter Offutt averaged 16 points per game while shooting 69 percent from the field in both victories. Since the start of the MAC Tournament, a five-game span, the junior is averaging 11.4 points while shooting 51 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc.

The Bobcats may have averaged almost seven points below their season scoring average but they had a better field goal percentage (45.3 to 43.0), better three-point percentage (44.1 to 34.2) and better free throw percentage (81.0 to 68.8) during their first two NCAA games.

Ohio’s D.J. Cooper was named to the All-MAC First Team for the second year in a row while Walter Offutt and Ivo Baltic were also honored as the league announced its postseason award selections for the 2011-12 season.

Cooper, a two-time MAC Player of the Week this season, became the first two-time First Team selection from Ohio since Jerome Tillman (‘07, ‘09) and consecutive first-team choice since Brandon Hunter did it three times (‘01-03).

Cooper recorded the first triple-double Ohio history when he recorded 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a win at Portland. The Chicago native also made the Cousy Award Watch List for a second year in a row and was selected as one of 20 finalists for this year’s honor.

Baltic and Offutt were each honored for the first time by the league. Offutt was MAC Player of the Week after scoring 23 points in a win at Buffalo. The redshirt junior finished among the top 10 in the MAC in steals and top 15 in scoring.

Baltic scored 22 in a win at Northern Iowa and also scored 20 in a home win against Miami. The junior finished among the top 15 in the league in field goal percentage and the top 20 in rebounding. This marks the second-consecutive year that Ohio received three postseason awards from the MAC.

20-10 CLUB
When 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 on the gridiron, Ohio Football won 10 games for the first time since 1968 and captured the first bowl win in school history.

Currently, only 11 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, Stanford and Wisconsin).

Ohio is also one of only 19 programs in the last five years that have won 10 football games and 25 basketball games during the same year. In fact Ohio is the first MAC institution to win 25+ basketball
games and 10+ football games in a single season.

The Ohio men’s basketball team defeated North Carolina 86-78 on February 19, 2002 at the Smith Center. Despite leading by as many as 18 points in the second half, the Bobcats needed to hit seven-of-eight free throws down the stretch to secure the win, which aired nationally on ESPN2.

Brandon Hunter scored 20 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out six assists for the Bobcats while Steve Esterkamp scored a game-high 23 points, snared six rebounds and pilfered three passes
Sonny Johnson added 19 points for Ohio with Patrick Flomo scoring 12 points, grabbing nine rebounds and blocking three shots. Despite UNC connecting on 13 three-pointers, Ohio shot 52 percent from the field and was a +7 on the glass.

Cooper broke the all-time assists mark against Kent State two weeks ago, a record that had stood since 1990 (Dennis Whitaker, 651). The junior also owns Ohio’s top two single season marks (263 in 10-11, 218 in 2009-10) and led the league in helpers the past two seasons. He currently ranks 26th in the nation with an average of 5.7 per contest.

His 257 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 16th nationally with an average of 2.31 steals per game.

Cooper is also one of 33 1,000-point scorers in Ohio history. His 535 points this season have seen him move past 19 former Bobcats on the all-time chart. He now ranks 10th all-time with 1,585 career points.