ATHENS, Ohio - The Ohio University men's basketball team opens the 2013-14 season Saturday with an exhibition contest against Ashland University.
Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. inside the Convocation Center. Fans can follow the action via the GameTracker feature on OhioBobcats.com
The Bobcats return eight letter winners from a 2012-13 squad that won 24 games, claimed a share of the MAC regular season title and earned a berth in the National Invitation Tournament.
Ohio also welcomes six newcomers to the team, including five freshmen and junior college transfer Maurice Ndour (Mbour, Senegal/Monroe College).
The Green & White were picked to finish third in the MAC East Division behind Akron and Buffalo. Akron was picked to win the MAC East, while Toledo was picked to capture the West Division title.
Senior guard Nick Kellogg (Westerville, Ohio) and junior guard Javarez "Bean" Willis (Homer, La.) were selected to the preseason College Sports Madness All-MAC Teams. Kellogg garnered All-MAC Third Team accolades, while Willis was named to the fourth team.
Head coach Jim Christian enters his second season on the sidelines for the Bobcats. With last season's 24-10 campaign, Christian improved his winning percentage as a MAC skipper to .704, the best mark in conference history by a sizable margin.
2013-14 SCHEDULE PRESENTS CHALLENGES This season's schedule features 14 games against teams that qualified for post-season play in 2012-13 and a marquee intra-state matchup with Ohio State. The Bobcats will suit up against the Buckeyes on Nov. 12 for the first time since the 1994-95 season. Ohio also will host A-10 favorite Massachusetts in December. The average 2012-13 RPI of Ohio's non-conference opponents is 152, compared to last season's average of 168. The league schedule will include 18 games for the first time since 2005-06. The Bobcats will play each East Division foe twice, as well as MAC West opponents Western Michigan and Toledo on two occasions.
INTIMIDATING FRONT LINE The Bobcats will feature one of the most active front lines in the MAC this season. Ohio returns one of its top defensive players in redshirt senior Jon Smith (Grove City, Ohio), who ranked seventh in the MAC in blocks last season and is eighth all-time at Ohio in that category (93 career blocks). In addition, the `Cats welcome junior college transfer Maurice Ndour (Mbour, Senegal), who ranked 27th in the NJCAA in blocks and 13th in rebounding. Ndour averaged a double-double (16.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg) last season at Monroe College (N.Y.).
WILLIS, SETTY READY FOR ACTION After sitting out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer guidelines, junior guard Javarez "Bean" Willis (Homer, La./Texas Tech) and sophomore forward Treg Setty (Maysville, Ky./Southern Illinois) are eligible to suit up for the Bobcats this season. Willis started 30 of 31 games for the Red Raiders in 2011-12 and averaged 8.1 ppg while distributing 58 assists (second-most on the team). Setty started 10 contests for the Salukis in 2011-12 and averaged 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.
A LOOK AT ASHLAND Ashland is coming off a 13-12 season in which it finished fifth in the Southern Division of the GLIAC (Division II). The Eagles return three starters, including GLIAC All-Defensive Team member DaWuan Thomas at guard. As a freshman Thomas averaged 7.4 points and 1.2 steals a game. Senior forward Will Evans is the team's leading returning scorer and rebounder after averaging 9.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game in 2012-13. The third returning starter is Brook Turson, a junior guard who shot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc last season.
HISTORY vs. ASHLAND Ohio is 6-1 versus current GLIAC members in regular season play. The Bobcats, however, have never played Ashland in a regular season game, but did host an exhibition game against the Eagles in 2009 which Ohio won, 63-53.
UP NEXT Ohio will tip the regular season at home next Saturday (Nov. 9) against Missouri Valley Conference foe Northern Iowa (2 p.m.). The game will feature a celebration of the program's 2012-13 MAC regular season title and a performance by the full Marching 110.