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Ohio Men's Basketball Looks To Get Back On Track As Toledo Comes To Town

Ohio Men's Basketball Looks To Get Back On Track As Toledo Comes To Town

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By Mike Ashcraft
OhioBobcats.com

Watch: ESPN3
Listen: Ohio IMG Sports Network
Live Stats: PrestoSports PrimeTime
Game Notes: Ohio (PDF) | Toledo (PDF)

ATHENS, Ohio --
 The Ohio men's basketball team (8-8, 1-3 MAC) looks to get back in the win column when it welcomes Mid-American Conference West Division foe Toledo (11-6, 3-1 MAC) to the Convocation Center on Tuesday (Jan. 16) for a 7 p.m. ET matchup. 

Tuesday's game will be streamed live on WatchESPN and the ESPN app, with Marty Bannister and Toni Roesch on the call. The contest will also be broadcast on the Ohio IMG Sports Network, with 'Voice of the Bobcats' Russ Eisenstein and Rob Cornelius on the call. Radio pregame coverage is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET with 'Countdown To Tipoff.'

OHIO'S COMEBACK BID AT KENT STATE FALLS SHORT
Ohio clawed back from a 12-point second-half deficit but ultimately fell to MAC East Division rival Kent State, 70-69, on Friday (Jan. 12) at the M.A.C. Center.

The Bobcats outscored the Golden Flashes, 38-30, over the final 20 minutes of play but were unable to protect a one-point lead with two minutes to play.

The Bobcats were led by a 17-point outing by freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.), who scored 12 of those points in the second half. He also snatched a game-high seven boards and totaled two assists and two steals in 33 minutes. Senior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) recorded 11 points and also added two rebounds and two assists in 36 minutes. Junior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) posted 10 points, two rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in 29 minutes of work. Junior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) finished with 10 points, a game-high five assists and four rebounds over 36 minutes. Freshman guard Zach Butler (Spartanburg, S.C.) went a perfect 3-of-3 from the field with a trey en route to nine points in 17 minutes off of the bench.

SENIOR LEADER
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 16.5 points per game to lead the team and rank ninth among MAC players and is shooting 48.7 percent (97-of-199) from the field to rank second on the squad. He is shooting 40.8 percent (31-of-76) from beyond the arc, which leads the team and ranks 10th among MAC players. Laster's 18.5 points per game over the first four MAC contests of 2018 is good for the fourth-highest scoring average in the league. He is shooting  52.0 percent (13-of-25) from three-point range, which ranks eighth-best in the conference.

Over his last 33 games, Laster is averaging 11.6 points per game and is shooting 51.4 percent (151-of-294) from the field.

ROOKIE PLAYING LIKE A VET
Kirk has impressed through his first 16 games as a Bobcat. Starting at point guard in every contest, he is averaging 14.7 points per game to rank second on the team and is shooting 45.5 percent (80-of-176) from the field. He was the lone Bobcat to tally double-digit points the first six contests of the year. He is also tied for the team lead with 1.3 steals per game, ranks second on the team with 6.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.

MONEY MICKLE
Graduate forward Kevin Mickle (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 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 10.5 points per game and is shooting a team-best 53.6 percent (60-of-112) from the floor. He set a career high with 17 points in his first career start as a Bobcat in the win over Western Kentucky, which he then broke with his 19-point effort in the loss at Marshall.

Mickle has reached double figures in points eight times in 13 games played for Ohio in 2017-18 -- including five of the last eight contests. In 63 games at Florida Gulf Coast, he reached double digits just three times.

SHOOTERS SHOOT
For his two-plus year Ohio career, Dartis averages 11.6 points per game and is a 44.8 percent shooter -- including a program-record 44.0 percent success rate from beyond the arc. He has finished in double figures 47 times in his Ohio career, which is the most among active Bobcats, and has tallied at least 20 points in a game nine times in his career, which is also ranks as the most among active Ohio players.

Dartis is averaging 13.1 points per game to rank third on the squad in 2017-18 and has finished with double-digit points nine times this season to rank third on the team. He scored a career-high 27 points, thanks in large part to matching his career high with seven made threes at Marshall. He then recorded his second-straight outing with at least 20 points, tallying a team-high 23 off a 6-of-13 shooting effort from the field that included three treys in addition to sinking eight of his nine free throw attempts in an 84-65 win over Prairie View A&M on Dec. 20 at the Convo.

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.

SCOUTING THE ROCKETS
Toledo has won three-straight MAC games after suffering a 104-94 loss at MAC East Division foe Buffalo in the league season opener. The Rockets have since defeated Akron (67-65) and Western Michigan (84-61) at home home and Central Michigan (93-82) on the road in Mount Pleasant, Mich., last Saturday (Jan. 13).

Under eighth-year head coach Tod Kowalczyk, the Rockets continue to boast one of the MAC's top offensive attacks. Toledo ranks third in the league and 65th in the country in points per game (79.7), second in the league and 79th in the country in field goal percentage (.470) and first in the league and 19th in the country in three-point field goal percentage (.408).

Senior guard/forward Tre'Shaun Fletcher is Toledo's top player, averaging a team-high 18.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Also averaging double figures in points for Toledo are junior guard Jaelan Sanford (16.7 points per game), junior forward Nate Navigato and sophomore forward center Luke Knapke (11.0).

SERIES HISTORY
Tuesday's game marks the 128th all-time meeting between Ohio and Toledo, with the Bobcats leading the series, 70-57 (.551). Ohio suffered a 79-76 setback to the Rockets on Jan. 24, 2017, in the last regular season meeting between the two squads, but the Bobcats bounced back with a thrilling 67-66 triumph over the Rockets in the 2017 MAC Tournament Quarterfinals on March 9, 2017.

UP NEXT
Ohio hits the road again, this time for a trip to Ypsilanti, Mich., to face off with MAC West Division foe Eastern Michigan on Saturday (Jan. 20). The opening tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET. The game will be streamed live on WatchESPN and the ESPN app.

#BleedGreen

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