ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio men's basketball team (5-5) plays the first of two home games to close out non-conference play when it hosts Prairie View A&M (2-9) on Wednesday (Dec. 20) at the Convocation Center. The opening tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
Wednesday's contest will be broadcast on the Ohio IMG Sports Network, with Marty Bannister filling in for 'Voice of the Bobcats' Russ Eisenstein and Rob Cornelius on the call. There will be no video stream available for Wednesday's game.
OHIO SUFFERS TOUGH LOSS TO MARSHALL IN OT
Ohio clawed back from a nine-point halftime deficit to force overtime but ultimately dropped a tough 99-96 decision to longtime rival Marshall last Saturday (Dec. 16) at the Cam Henderson Center.
After missing one game due to a lower leg injury, junior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) scored a career-high 27 points, thanks in large part to match his career high with seven made threes. He also totaled three rebounds and an assist in 41 minutes. Graduate forward Kevin Mickle (Brooklyn, N.Y.) went 9-of-14 from the field en route to a career-high 19 points in 27 minutes of work off of the bench. He nearly achieved a double-double with eight rebounds and also tallied three steals. Freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) finished with 18 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 37 minutes. He went 7-of-14 from the field. Senior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) logged 12 points, four rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes before being forced to exit the game with an injury. Junior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) notched eight points, eight rebounds and a steal over 24 mintues. Junior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) distributed a team-high five assists and also added five points, four rebounds, a block and a steal in 32 minutes.
BOBCATS HANG ON TO TOP WESTERN KENTUCKY
The Bobcats withstood a late charge from Western Kentucky to earn an 89-84 triumph on Sunday (Dec. 10) at the Convocation Center.
The Bobcats earned their first win over the Hilltoppers since recording a 65-42 victory in Athens in the 1945-46 campaign. Ohio improved to 2-4 all-time against Western Kentucky, which received votes in last week's Associated Press Top 25 Poll.
CASHING IN FROM THE FREE THROW LINE
Ohio emerged victorious over the Hilltoppers thanks in large part to a season-best 31-of-35 (88.6 percent) shooting effort from the free throw line. Ohio's 31 made free throws marked the program's most since the Bobcats recorded 33 in a 79-71 win over Mid-American Conference West Division foe Eastern Michigan on Feb. 14, 2017, in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Heading into Sunday's clash with Western Kentucky, the Bobcats ranked eighth among MAC teams and 153rd nationally at the free throw line with a 71.2 percent success rate. Ohio now ranks third among conference teams and 53rd nationally with a 74.9 percent free throw percentage.
Laster is looking to make his final season as a Bobcat his best yet, and he's off to a good start. He is averaging 16.2 points per game to lead the team and is shooting 50 percent (66-of-132) from the field to rank second on the squad.
Laster turned in his fourth game of the 2017-18 season with at least 20 points in the win over Western Kentucky. He led Ohio with a 23-point effort, going 8-of-11 from the field -- including 2-of-3 from three-point range -- en route to finishing in double figures for the sixth game in a row. Laster has now led Ohio in scoring a team-high six times.
Between Nov. 19-28, Laster tallied three-straight games with at least 20 points, making him the first Bobcat to achieve such a feat since 2015-16. His 25-point effort in a 96-94 quadruple overtime win over Indiana State on Nov. 19 in the seventh-place game of the 2017 Gildan Charleston Classic represented a career high.
Over his last 28 games, Laster is averaging 10.6 points per game and is shooting 52.9 percent (120-of-227) from the field.
Mickle has proven to be a valuable addition to the Ohio rotation since joining the program upon earning his bachelor's degree in communications from Florida Gulf Coast after playing for the Eagles for two seasons.
Mickle currently ranks fourth on the team with 10.9 points per game and is shooting a team-best 56.7 percent (34-of-60) from the floor. He set a career high with 17 points in his first career start as a Bobcat in Sunday's win over Western Kentucky, which he then broke with his 19-point effort in last Saturday's loss at Marshall.
Mickle has reached double figures in points five times in 10 games for Ohio in 2017-18. In 63 games at Florida Gulf Coast, he reached double digits just three times.
ROOKIE PLAYING LIKE A VET
Kirk has impressed through his first nine games as a Bobcat. Starting at point guard in every contest, he is averaging 14.4 points per game to tie for second on the team and is shooting 45.6 percent (52-of-114) from the field. He was the lone Bobcat to tally double-digit points the first six contests of the year. He is also tied with Mickle for the team lead with 1.4 steals per game and averaging 3.2 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game, both of which rank second on the squad.
Kirk nearly achieved his first career double-double in the victory over Western Kentucky, finishing with 17 points, a career-high nine rebounds and two assists and a steal in 36 minutes. He sank a career-best 9-of-11 free throw attempts.
Kirk continued the strong start to his freshman campaign in a 96-77 win over Mount St. Mary's on Nov. 24 at the Convo, tallying a career-high 20 points for the second game in a row to tie for the team lead. He shot 7-of-14 from the floor -- including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc -- in addition to sinking four his five free throw attempts. He also matched his career high with six assists to tie for the team lead.
Ohio beat Alabama A&M, 61-53, in the 2017-18 season opener on Nov. 11 at the Convo behind a game-high 16 points from Kirk in his debut for the Bobcats. At the 2017 Gildan Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C., Kirk notched 10 points, a game-high six assists, four rebounds and a steal in 28 minutes against Clemson (Nov. 16), then logged 12 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal over 27 minutes against Dayton (Nov. 17) in the Charleston Classic. He saved his best for last in Charleston with a 20-point effort that saw him score a combined 12 points over the final three overtimes to help the Bobcats clinch the win in quadruple overtime over Indiana State.
After his big shooting effort at Marshall, Dartis is now averaging 14.4 points per game to match Kirk for second on the squad. He recorded his eighth career game with at least 20 points last Saturday.
A 2017-18 Preseason All-MAC East Division Team pick, Dartis is coming off of a 2016-17 sophomore campaign in which he garnered Second Team All-MAC honors. He started a career-high 31 games, tallying a career-high 390 points (12.6 per game) to rank second on the team, a career-high 113 rebounds (3.6 per game) to rank fifth on the team, a career-high 56 assists (1.8 per game) to rank third on the team, a career-high 39 steals (1.3 per game) to lead the team and a career-high six blocks (0.2 per game) over a career-high 1,082 minutes (34.9 per game) to rank second on the team. Dartis shot 44.0 percent (118-of-268) from the field -- including a team-best 44.1 percent (86-of-195) from three-point range, which ranks as the seventh-best three-point field goal percentage in a single season in program history and ranked as the best in the conference and 11th in the nation. He also posted a team-best 88.3 percent (68-of-77) free throw percentage. Dartis finished in double figures in points a career-high 23 times to rank second on the team -- including recording 20 or more points a career-high four times -- and led the team in scoring a career-high four times and in assists a career-high two times.
For his career, Dartis averages 11.6 points per game and is a 45.2 percent shooter -- including a program-record 45.7 percent success rate from beyond the arc.
SCOUTING THE PANTHERS
Prairie View A&M enters Wednesday's contest with a mark of 2-9 and is in the midst of a stretch in which is plays 13-straight games away from home to begin the 2017-18 season. The Panthers have lost their last six, most recently dropping a 92-72 decision at Houston on Dec. 17. Prairie View A&M's last victory came on Nov. 22 -- a 71-56 win over Georiga State in the MGM Resorts Main Event Tournament in Las Vegas.
Byron Smith is in his second full season as head coach at Prairie View A&M. The Panthers were picked to place fifth of 10 teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference's preseason poll.
Three players average double digits in points for Prairie View A&M -- junior guard Gary Blackston (17.2 points per game), senior forward Zachary Hamilton (17.0) and redshirt junior guard Dennis Jones (11.3).
Wednesday's contest marks the first meeting between Ohio and Prairie View A&M.
The Bobcats are a perfect 8-0 all-time against teams out of the SWAC -- including 6-0 over the last three-plus seasons under head coach Saul Phillips.
Ohio closes out non-conference play by hosting NAIA memeber Northwestern Ohio on Dec. 29 at the Convo. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.