ATHENS, Ohio -- The No. 10-seeded Ohio men's basketball team (14-16) looks to make a run at a seventh Mid-American Conference Tournament crown when it visits No. 7-seeded Miami (15-16) in a first-round matchup at Millett Hall on Monday (March 5). Tip-off of the postseason showdown between the longtime archrivals is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
Monday's game will be streamed live on WatchESPN and the ESPN app, with Steve Baker and Randy Hollowell 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.'
The Bobcats will be visiting Millett Hall for the second time in four days, as Ohio closed out the 2017-18 regular season with a 75-66 victory over the RedHawks on Friday (March 2). Ohio swept the 2018 regular season series from their MAC East Division archrivals, marking the third-straight year the Bobcats have swept Miami. In the first meeting of the season between the two squads, the Bobcats prevailed over Miami in overtime, 92-87, on Feb. 17 at the Convocation Center in Athens. Ohio has now won 14 of the last 15 meetings against the RedHawks -- including each of the last seven contests.
ROAD TO CLEVELAND
The 2018 MAC Basketball Tournament will once again be held at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. This year's tournament will begin on March 5 with first round games on campus before moving to Cleveland (March 8-10). The tournament semifinal games will once again air on CBS Sports Network, while the title game will be played on Saturday, March 10 on ESPN2. Ohio will be looking to earn in its seventh MAC tournament crown in program history and first since 2012.
The winner of the 2018 MAC Basketball Tournament will earn the league's automatic bid to the 2018 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship field. Selection Sunday is March 11, 2018. The First Four games will be played March 13-14 in Dayton, Ohio. First and Second Round action will take place March 15-18 in Pittsburgh, Wichita, Dallas, Boise, Charlotte, Detroit, Nashville and San Diego. The West and South Regionals will be held March 22 and 24 in Los Angeles and Atlanta, respectively, while the Midwest and East Regionals will take place March 23 and 25 in Omaha and Boston, respectively. The 2018 NCAA Final Four is slated for March 31 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The national title game is scheduled for April 2. CBS Sports and Turner Sports will televise the 2018 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.
The winner of Monday's matchup between Ohio and Miami will punch its ticket to Cleveland to square off with No. 2-seeded Toledo (21-10, 13-5 MAC) on Thursday (March 8) at 6:30 p.m. ET at Quicken Loans Arena. The game will be streamed live on WatchESPN and the ESPN app. The Bobcats went 0-2 against the Rockets in the 2018 regular season, losing 91-57 on Jan. 16 at the Convo and 82-74 on Feb. 13 at Savage Arena in Toledo.
OHIO IN THE MAC TOURNAMENT
The Bobcats are 41-30 (.577) all-time in the MAC Tournament -- including 2-3 (.400) under head coach Saul Phillips -- and have captured six league tournament crowns. Ohio is making its 37th appearance in the MAC Tournament in 2018. Last year, the Bobcats locked down the No. 2 seed in the 2017 MAC Tournament presented by VisitMyrtleBeach.com for the second year in a row, earning a bye to the quarterfinals. Ohio topped No. 7-seeded Toledo in the quarters, 67-66, before falling to No. 6-seed and eventual tournament champion Kent State, 68-66, in the league semifinals.
Ohio is 10-3 (.833) all-time in the first round of the MAC Tournament and will be playing a first-round game for the first time since March 9, 2015, when the No. 11-seeded Bobcats fell to No. 6-seeded Western Michigan, 82-74, in Kalamazoo, Mich. The Bobcats will be playing a MAC Tournament First Round game on the road for the fifth time. The Bobcats are 2-2 all-time in MAC Tournament First Round road games, Ohio took down No. 8-seeded Ball State, 85-77, in overtime as the No. 9 seed on March 7, 2010, in Muncie, Ind. Ohio went on to win the MAC Tournament and advance to the second round of the NCAA Championship that season. No. 10-seeded Ohio dropped a 56-54 decision at No. 7-seeded Bowling Green on March 8, 2004. The No. 11-seeded Bobcats earned their first-ever MAC Tournament First Round road win on March 10, 2003, with a 79-77 upset at No. 6-seeded Akron.
Ohio enters the MAC Tournament as the No. 10 seed for just the second time and for the first time since suffering the first-round loss at Bowling Green in 2004. Since 2000, when the league expanded the tournament field, the No. 10-seed is 0-18 all-time in the MAC Tournament. Last year, No. 10-seeded Bowling Green fell at No. 7-seeded Toledo, 77-62.
Ohio will be facing Miami in the MAC Tournament for the first time since March 12, 2014, when the Bobcats earned a 63-55 win over the RedHawks in the second round at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The Bobcats are 7-3 all-time against the RedHawks in league tournament action, but the two teams have never met in the first round.
WE MEET AGAIN
Monday's game marks the seventh time Ohio will face a team in its MAC Tournament opener that it played in its regular season finale. The situation last occurred in 1997, when the Bobcats lost at Western Michigan, 82-73, in the regular season finale, then, as the No. 3 seed fell to the No. 6-seeded Broncos, 74-68 in the quarterfinals. The year before, the Bobcats beat Ball State, 87-67, in its final regular season game but then, as the No. 4 seed, dropped an 86-80 decision to the No. 5-seeded Cardinals in the quarters. In 1993, Ohio lost its regular season finale at Toledo, 85-73, then, as the No. 4 seed, lost to the No. 5-seeded Rockets, 85-84, in overtime. In 1992, the Bobcats defeated Bowling Green, 61-55, in the regular season finale, but, as the No. 4 seed, fell to No. 5-seeded Bowling Green, 56-46. In 1987, Ohio lost its regular season finale to Bowling Green, 56-53, then, as the No. 6 seed, fell to the No. 3-seeded Falcons, 52-51, in the quarters. The 1984 campaign saw the Bobcats finish the regular season with a 53-49 win over Kent State but then, as the No. 2 seed, fall to the No. 7-seeded Golden Flashes in the quarters, 57-53.
OHIO CLOSES REGULAR SEASON STRONG
Senior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) and junior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) combined for 42 points to help Ohio close out the 2017-18 regular season with a 75-66 win over MAC East Division archrival Miami last Friday (March 2) at Millett Hall.
Ohio shot 50 percent (27-of-54) from the field in the victory -- including 43.9 percent (7-of-16) from three-point range. The Bobcats overcame 17 turnovers to pull out the win. Miami converted just 41.5 percent (22-of-53) of their shots -- including going just 31 percent (9-of-29) from beyond the arc. The RedHawks made just 59.1 percent (13-of-22) of their free throw attempts.
Laster finished with a team-high 22 points while Dartis finished right behind him with 21. Laster made 10 of his 17 attempts from the field en route scoring at least 20 for the seventh time this year. He also chipped in four rebounds, three assists and a steal over 37 minutes. Dartis sank five of his six three-point attempts and six of his seven tries from the free throw line to finish with at least 20 points for the eighth time this season. He also contributed five rebounds in 30 minutes of work. Junior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) nearly achieved a double-double with 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds. He also blocked a game-high three blocks and dished out two assists in 24 minutes.
HEATING UP AT THE RIGHT TIME
The Bobcats won for the fourth time in their last five games with the victory at Miami. Ohio is averaging 82.4 points and shooting 49.2 percent (150-of-305) from the field -- including 42.4 percent (42-of-99) from beyond the arc -- over the last five contests.
Five players are averaging double figures for the Bobcats over the last five games -- freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) with 15.8 points per game, Dartis with 15.6, Laster with 14.8, Taylor with 11.2 and redshirt sophomore guard James Gollon (Stevens Point, Wis.) with 10.
Ohio is one of the top three-point teams in the MAC on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. The Bobcats rank second among MAC teams with 37.6 percent three-point field goal percentage, which ranks 61st in the country. Ohio also owns a 32.3 percent opponent three-point field goal percentage, which is tops among MAC teams and ranks 38th in the nation.
BOBCATS BEAT BOWLING GREEN ON SENIOR NIGHT
Ohio sent senior guards Antonio Bisutti (Dublin, Ohio) and Laster, senior forward Sam Frayer (Cincinnati, Ohio) and graduate forward Kevin Mickle (Brooklyn, N.Y.) out in style in their final home game at the Convocation Center, earning a 75-59 Senior Night win over MAC East Division rival Bowling Green last Tuesday (Feb. 27).
The Bobcats defeated the Falcons at the Convo for the second year in a row. Ohio avenged a 66-50 loss to Bowling Green in the first meeting of the year between the two squads on Jan. 30 at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio.
All five Ohio starters finished in double figures in points. In his final home game as a Bobcat, Laster tied for the team lead with 16 points and distributed a career-high seven assists. He also tallied four rebounds and two steals in 37 minutes. Kirk went 5-of-12 from the field with three three-pointers and made three of his four free throw attempts to match Laster for the team lead with 16 points. He finished in double figures in points a team-high 27 times this season -- including a span of 21-straight contests, a streak that ended in Ohio's win over Miami three days later. Kirk also grabbed a team-high eight boards, handed out four assists and tallied a steal over 34 minutes of work. Taylor finished with 14 points off of 7-of-10 shooting. He also blocked three shots in addition to posting six rebounds over 27 minutes of work. Dartis made four of his eight shots -- including three treys -- en route to an 11-point effort. He also recorded five rebounds, three assists and two steals in 29 minutes. Gollon finished with 10 points after going 4-of-9 from the floor with a pair of triples. He also grabbed six rebounds and had a steal in 35 minutes.
OHIO IN MAC PLAY
Ohio ranked second with a 39.3 percent (142-of-361) success rate from beyond the arc in league games.
On the defensive end of the floor, Ohio tied for second among MAC teams in league play with 4.1 blocks per contest.
Through 18 MAC games, Kirk led Ohio with 16.1 points per contest, which ranked ninth in the conference and tops among the MAC's freshmen. He averaged 1.5 steals per game in MAC play, which ranked seventh in the conference. Laster averaged 13.6 points per game in MAC play while Dartis finished right behind him, averaging 12.9 per contest. Taylor led all MAC players in conference play with 2.7 blocks per game while his 64.0 percent (57-of-89) field goal percentage in conference games was good for second in the league.
BOBCATS FALL AT BUFFALO
Ohio suffered a 108-82 loss to MAC East Division rival Buffalo on Feb. 24 at Alumni Arena.
The Bobcats led by as many as eight in the opening 20 minutes of play, but the Bulls used a 23-11 run over the final 5:53 of the half to take a 14-point lead into the break at 56-52. First-place Buffalo never led by less than 12 in the second half and led by as many as 28 at one point.
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for Ohio.
Buffalo's 108 points marked the most by an opponent this season, and its 52.7 percent (39-of-74) field goal percentage marked the best shooting performance against Ohio this season. The Bulls also led the box score in rebounds (48-32), assists (27-17), points in the paint (58-30), second-chance points (22-6) and bench points (56-14).
The Bobcats saw five players finish in double figures in points in the loss. Kirk led the way for Ohio with 21 points, marking his sixth outing of the year with at least 20 points. He also tied for the team lead with three assists in addition to adding four rebounds and a steal in 32 minutes. Laster finished with 19 points. He also posted three assists to tie for the team lead as well as three boards and a steal in 33 minutes of action. Gollon tallied 13 points for the second game in a row. He shot 4-of-8 from the floor with a pair of three-pointers and converted three of his four free throw attempts. He also chipped in a rebound, an assist and a steal over 29 minutes in his third-straight start Taylor achieved his third double-double of the year with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. He shot 6-of-9 from the floor. Taylor also chipped in two assists, two steals and a block in 30 minutes. Junior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) provided 11 points off of the bench thanks in large part to sink three treys in the first half. He also logged two assists and a rebound over 26 minutes of work.
BALANCED ATTACK ALLOWS OHIO TO BEAT KENT STATE
Six players scored in double figures to help Ohio knock off MAC East Division rival Kent State, 88-76, on Feb. 20 at the Convocation Center.
After beating MAC East Division archrival Miami, 92-87, in overtime on Feb. 17, the Bobcats strung together back-to-back victories for the first time in MAC play in 2018 courtesy of the win over the Golden Flashes. The Bobcats have now topped Kent State in each of the Golden Flashes' last three trips to Athens. Ohio ended a three-game losing streak in the series with Kent State.
Ohio never trailed Kent State. The Bobcats shot 55.2 percent (32-of-58) from the field from the field and made 10 three-pointers.
Once again, Dartis led the way for the Bobcats in a win, totaling a game-high 20 points thanks in large part to going 7-of-15 from the floor with five treys. He also compiled four assists to tie for the team lead as well as three rebounds and two steals in 33 minutes. Kirk continued his strong play in his rookie season, scoring 17 points off of 5-of-9 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. He also tied for the team lead with four assists in addition to hauling in five boards in 32 minutes of action. Making his second-straight start, Gollon made 5-of-8 attempts from the floor -- including three triples -- to log 13 points. He also notched a team-high seven rebounds, three steals to tie his career high and an assist in 31 minutes. Mickle recorded 13 points over 22 minutes of work off of the bench, going 5-of-6 from the field with a three and 2-for-2 from the charity stripe. He also collected six rebounds and an assist. Laster recorded 11 points. He also posted three assists, two rebounds and a steal in 28 minutes. Taylor made five of his seven shots to finish with 10 points. He also added five rebounds over 21 minutes of action.
BOBCATS BEAT MIAMI IN OVERTIME
Dartis helped Ohio erase a four-point deficit in overtime and beat MAC Division archrival Miami, 92-87, on Feb. 20 at the Convo.
Dartis finished 7-of-13 from the floor -- including three triples -- and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe to total a game-high 23 points, marking the sixth time this year he has scored at least 20 points in a game. He also tallied six rebounds, two assists and two steals over 37 minutes of action. Kirk went 6-of-15 from the field and made all five of his free throws to compile 18 points. He also logged seven rebounds, a team-high five assists and a steal over 44 minutes. Block scored 16 points in 29 minutes of work off of the bench and also totaled five rebounds, three assists, a game-high three blocks to set a career high and two steals to tie for the team lead. Mickle scored 12 points in 25 minutes off of the bench. He also added four boards and an assist. Taylor nearly achieved a double-double, totaling 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds. He also blocked two shots and collected a steal in 23 minutes.
Ohio scored at least 90 points for the sixth time this season with its 92-point output in the victory over the RedHawks. The Bobcats improved to 4-2 when they score at least 90 points in 2017-18. Ohio is 14-2 when scoring at least 90 points under Phillips.
WE'RE GONNA TAKE IT INTO OVERTIME
Ohio played an overtime game for the fourth time in 2017-18 when the 'Battle of the Bricks' took an extra five minutes to decide a winner. The Bobcats improved to 2-2 in overtime games this year with the win over the RedHawks. Ohio's four overtime games this marks the most the Bobcats have played in a single season since the 2010-11 squad play five.
BOBCATS' COMEBACK BID FALLS SHORT AT TOLEDO
Despite a career-high 24 points off of the bench by Mickle and a third double-double from Kirk, Ohio was unable to overcome a slow start in an 82-74 loss to MAC West Division foe Toledo on Feb. 13 at Savage Arena.
The Rockets raced out to a 15-0 lead over the first five minutes of play, and the Bobcats never quite recovered despite outscoring Toledo by a 74-67 count the rest of the way.
The Bobcats lost despite leading the way in rebounds (37-33), points in the paint (36-22) and bench points (39-20). Toledo took advantage of 37 attempts at the free throw line, making 32 foul shots for an 86.5 percent success rate. The Rockets went 28-of-33 from the charity stripe in the second half, allowing Toledo to seal the victory despite shooting just 29.2 percent (7-of-24) from the floor over the final 20 minutes.
Mickle provided Ohio with a lift with his performance off of the bench, going 10-of-19 from the floor with a three-pointer and 3-of-4 from the free throw line. The contest marked his first career game with at least 20 points. Mickle also finished with six rebounds, two blocks and an assist in 24 minutes. Kirk finished with 21 points and a game-high 10 boards to achieve another double-double. He shot 7-of-11 from both the field and the free throw line, shaking off a tough first half in which he went 1-of-3 for two points with a second half in which he went 6-of-8 for 19 points. He posted his fifth outing with at least 20 points this year. Kirk also totaled an assist, a block and a steal over 26 minutes of work. Gollon joined Mickle in helping the Bobcats account for 39 bench points, scoring 11 points off of 3-of-6 shooting from the floor -- including a pair of treys -- and 3-of-3 shooting from the charity stripe. He also added five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 27 minutes. Taylor -- the MAC's leading shot blocker in 2017-18 -- added to his total with four blocks -- including three in the second half. He has now blocked at least three shots in a game 10 times this season. Taylor also chipped in two points and four rebounds in 17 minutes of action.
DARTIS, OHIO SCORCH AKRON
Dartis exploded for a career-high 38 points behind 10 three-pointers to help Ohio dominate MAC East Division rival Akron, 99-75, on Feb. 6 at the Convocation Center.
The Bobcats evened the regular season series with the Zips, avenging a 71-68 loss at Akron on Jan. 23. Ohio's 24-point triumph on Tuesday marked the Bobcats' largest margin of victory over the Zips since another 24-point win, 85-61, on Feb. 26, 2012, at the Convo.
The victory represented Ohio's best offensive output of the 2017-18 campaign as the Bobcats racked up a season-high 99 points. Ohio shot 54.2 percent (32-of-59) from the field -- including a season-best 59.3 percent (16-of-27) from three-point range. The Bobcats' 16 treys tied for the fifth-most in a game in program history. Ohio last drained 16 triples on Feb. 7, 2017, against Central Michigan. The Bobcats also took advantage of their opportunities at the free throw line, going 19-of-23 (82.6 percent) from the charity stripe.
After sitting out Ohio's 101-98 double overtime loss to MAC West Division foe Central Michigan on Feb. 3 with a nagging hip injury, Dartis announced his return to the starting lineup in a big way. His 38-point effort marked the most by a Bobcat since former Ohio guard Jaaron Simmons dropped 38 on the Zips on Feb. 4, 2017, in a 85-70 triumph at the Convo. Dartis scored at least 30 points for the first time in his career and became the second Bobcat to reach the 30-point mark this season, joining Laster, who posted a career-high 31 in a 78-68 win over Northern Illinois on Jan. 6, 2018, at the Convo. Dartis went 13-of-20 from the field -- including a scorching 10-of-15 from beyond the arc. His 10 made treys marked the most by a Bobcat since former Ohio guard Javarez Willis drilled 10 in a 95-65 victory over archrival Miami on March 6, 2015. Dartis is now tied with Willis for the third-most three-pointers made in a game in program history. Dartis also finished Tuesday's game with five rebounds, three assists and a steal in 32 minutes of action.
Dartis was one of five Bobcats to finish in double figures in the win over the Zips. Block went 4-of-4 from the field with a three-pointer and made five of his seven free throw attempts to tally 14 points. He also grabbed five rebounds, dished out a game-high four assists and blocked a shot in 32 minutes of work. Kirk shot 5-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the free throw line en route to 13 points. He also tallied a team-high seven rebounds and chipped in three assists and two steals in 28 minutes. Gollon provided 13 points off of the bench, knocking down three three-pointers and making all four of his free throws. He also notched three rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block over 22 minutes. Laster went 3-of-4 from the field with a three and 3-of-4 from the charity stripe en route to 10 points. He also recorded a rebound and an assist in 24 minutes. Taylor blocked a game-high five shots and also posted three rebounds and an assist in 20 minutes of work.
DARTIS NAMED MAC EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Dartis was named MAC East Division Player of the Week, as announced by the league office on Feb. 12.
Dartis earned weekly conference honors for the first time in his career and became the first Bobcat to be named MAC East Division Player of the Week in 2017-18.
Dartis averaged a team-high 22.5 points, shooting 52.9 percent (18-of-34) from the field -- including 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from beyond the arc. He also averaged 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals.
In addition to his career performance in the win over Akron, Dartis finished with 13 points after going 5-of-14 from the floor with three treys as Ohio suffered a 69-60 loss to MAC West Division foe Western Michigan on Feb. 10 at University Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich. Dartis eclipsed the 1,000-career point mark in the loss, becoming the 39th Bobcat to reach that milestone. He also logged five rebounds, two steals and an assist over 30 minutes.
DARTIS' HOT HAND HELPS OHIO EARN WIN AT EMU
Dartis drained seven-three pointers en route to a game-high 24 points to help power Ohio to a 72-66 triumph over MAC East Division foe Eastern Michigan on Jan. 20 at the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich. The Bobcats' victory marked Ohio's first true road win of the 2017-18 campaign. Ohio picked up a win in Ypsilanti for the second year in a row.
Ohio overcame a 31-24 halftime deficit by outscoring the Eagles by a 48-35 count over the final 20 minutes of play. The Bobcats won for the third time in 2017-18 after trailing at the half. Ohio shot 63 percent (17-of-27) -- including 66.7 percent (8-of-12) from beyond the arc -- in the second half after converting at just a 30 percent (6-of-20) clip from the floor in the first half.
Dartis went 8-of-12 from the field -- including 7-of-10 from three-point range. He piled up 21 points in the second half, draining six treys. He recorded his fourth 20-point outing of the season and 10th of his Ohio career. Dartis also finished the contest with two rebounds, two assists and two steals in 33 minutes.
Laster scored 16 points, shooting 6-of-12 from the field with a pair of triples. He also added three rebounds and a block over 32 minutes. Kirk finished with 12 points thanks in large part to an 8-of-8 effort from the free throw line. He also dished out three assists, hauled in three boards and matched his career high with four steals in 30 minutes. Taylor went 4-of-4 from the floor to total eight points. He also grabbed two rebounds, blocked a game-high three shots and had an assist in 20 minutes. Block notched six points, five rebounds, a game-high eight assists and a steal over 38 minutes. Mickle scored four points, posted a team-high seven rebounds and also logged two assists and a steal in 19 minutes of work off of the bench.
LASTER POWERS OHIO TO FIRST MAC WIN OF 2018
Laster scored a career-high 31 points to lead all scorers on 10-of-12 shooting with a career-high five three-pointers and went 6-of-7 from the free throw line as Ohio earned its first MAC victory of the 2018 season with a 78-68 triumph over Northern Illinois on Jan. 6 at the Convocation Center.
Laster became the first Bobcat to score at least 30 points in a game this season.
Taylor blocked a career-high six shots in addition to recording two points, six rebounds and a steal in 17 minutes. He became the first Bobcat to block at least five shots in a game since former forward Antonio Campbell did so in a 79-62 win over Northern Illinois in the 2016 MAC Tournament Quarterfinals on March 10, 2016, in Cleveland.
OHIO FINISHES NON-CONFERENCE PLAY WITH SEVEN WINS
The Bobcats tallied seven victories in 12 tries over the first two months of the 2017-18 campaign.
Ohio opened the year with a 61-53 triumph over Alabama A&M on Nov. 11 at the Convocation Center, marking the first of six wins at the Roundhouse On Richland in non-conference action. The Bobcats' biggest win of the non-conference slate came on Dec. 10, with Ohio posting an 89-84 victory over Western Kentucky, which had received votes in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll the previous week.
The Bobcats went 1-2 at the 2017 Gildan Charleston Classic, placing seventh in the tournament that was held Nov. 16-19 at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C.
After falling to Clemson, 81-76, on Nov. 16 and in-state rival Dayton, 79-65, the following day, Ohio clawed back from an 18-point deficit and outlasted Indiana State in quadruple overtime, 96-94, on Nov. 19 in the seventh-place game.
The win over Indiana State saw the Bobcats play their first four-overtime contest since Dec. 18, 2010, and prevail in quadruple overtime for the first time since a 112-104 win over MAC rival Akron on Jan. 8, 2003. Ohio's rally from 18 down in the victory represented the program's largest comeback win of Phillips' Ohio coaching tenure. Per the college basketball analytics website KenPom.com, Ohio had a 0.3 percent chance of defeating Indiana State when the Bobcats trailed the Sycamores by a 77-68 count with 48 seconds remaining in the second overtime. Ohio refused to give in, though, and went on a 13-4 run in the final 40 seconds.
Ohio entered MAC play still in search of its first true road win. The Bobcats suffered an 87-62 setback to Big Ten Conference foe Maryland on Dec. 7 in College Park, Md., then fell to longtime rival Marshall in an overtime heartbreaker, 99-96, on Dec. 16 in Huntington, W. Va.
THE INJURY BUG
Ohio has been dealing with adversity on the injury front all through the early portion of the 2017-18 season.
Sophomore forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio) -- a 2017-18 Preseason All-MAC East Division Team selection and 2017 All-MAC Freshman Team pick -- has missed 26 games this year with a lower leg injury. The Bobcats have been depleted in the frontcourt as freshman forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) works his way back from a lower leg injury and has yet to appear in a game this season. After missing the first 12 games of the 2017-18 campaign with an upper arm injury, freshman forward A.J. Gareri (Akron, Ohio) made his career debut at Central Michigan, scoring two points off of two made free throws. Gareri played in 10 games but has now missed each of the last six contests after reinjuring his arm. Mickle missed two games due to a lower leg injury.
The Bobcats have also found themselves without their starting guards at different points, with Laster and Dartis each missing a game due to injuries.
Ohio found itself without the services of Dartis (hip injury) and Mickle (knee) again in the double overtime loss to Central Michigan but both returned to action for the win over Akron.
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 a career-high 14.4 points per game to rank second on the team and is shooting 47.7 percent (159-of-333) from the field to rank third on the squad. He is shooting 39.1 percent (52-of-133) from beyond the arc, which ranks fourth on the team.
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.
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. The stretch included a 25-point effort in the quadruple overtime win over Indiana State in the Gildan Charleston Classic.
Over his last 47 games, Laster is averaging 11.8 points per game and is shooting 49.8 percent (213-of-428) from the field.
ROOKIE PLAYING LIKE A VET
Kirk has impressed through his first 30 games as a Bobcat. Starting at point guard in every contest, he is averaging 15.4 points per game to lead the team and rank 11th among MAC players and is shooting 44.4 percent (156-of-351) from the field to rank fifth on the team -- including 43.2 percent (16-of-37) from beyond the arc. Kirk is looking to become the first Ohio freshman to average double figures in points since guard D.J. Cooper averaged 13.5 per contest in his rookie campaign of 2009-10.
Kirk also leads the team with 1.4 steals per game, which ranks seventh in the MAC, and ranks second on the squad in both rebounds per game (6.0) and assists per game (3.1).
Kirk achieved his first career double-double with 14 points and a game-high 14 rebounds to set a new career high in Ohio's 65-58 win over Northwestern Ohio on Dec. 29 at the Convo to close out the non-conference portion of the 2017-18 schedule.
Ohio beat Alabama A&M in the season opener on Nov. 11 at theConvo 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.
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.
For his two-plus year Ohio career, Dartis averages 11.9 points per game and is a 45.2 percent shooter -- including owning a 44.8 percent success rate from beyond the arc, which is the best three-point field goal percentage in program history. He is one of eight players in program history to sink at least 200 career three-pointers with 231, which ranks as the fifth-most in the history of the program. Dartis has finished in double figures 55 times in his Ohio career, which is the most among active Bobcats, and has tallied at least 20 points in a game 14 times in his career, which also ranks as the most among active Ohio players. His 1,086 career points rank as the 31st-most in program history.
Dartis is averaging 13.6 points per game to rank third on the squad in 2017-18 and has finished with double-digit points 17 times this season to rank third on the team. He scored a then-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.
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 8.8 points per game and is shooting 49.5 percent (98-of-198) from the floor to rank second on the squad. He scored 17 points in his first career start as a Bobcat in the win over Western Kentucky, then posted a 19-point effort in the loss at Marshall.
Mickle has reached double figures in points 12 times in 26 games played for Ohio in 2017-18. In 63 games at Florida Gulf Coast, he reached double digits just three times.
After finishing a rebound short of a double-double with 12 points and nine boards to go along with a game-high five assists in 35 minutes in the win over Alabama A&M in the season opener, Block averaged 15.0 points and 2.7 assists to rank second on the team and 7.7 rebounds to lead the team over three games at the Charleston Classic. He scored a career-high 22 points to lead all scorers and achieved his first career double-double with a career-high 10 rebounds to lead the team in addition to logging an assist and a steal in 34 minutes of work against Clemson. He then just missed out on a second-straight double-double with 14 points and a team-high nine boards in addition to distributing a team-high four assists in 34 minutes of work against Dayton.
Through 30 games this season, Block ranks fifth on the squad with 8.7 points per game and leads the team with 3.3 assists per game, which ranks 11th in the MAC. His 4.1 rebounds per game are good for third on the squad.
Taylor is averaging a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game, which ranks eighth among MAC players. He has tallied double-digit boards a team-high eight times -- including pulling down a career-high 15 in the quadruple overtime win over Indiana State in the Gildan Charleston Classic.
Taylor is also averaging a team-high 2.0 blocks per game, which is tops among MAC players and ranks 44th in the country. His 61 blocks this season are tops in the MAC, rank 42nd in the country and are tied for the ninth-most in a single season in program history with John Devereaux (1981-82).
Taylor's 55.7 percent (88-of-158) field goal percentage is best on the team.
Taylor achieved his first career double-double with a career-high 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds in the win over Mount St. Mary's. He went 6-of-10 from the field and sank his first three-pointer of the season. He also had a pair of steals in 26 minutes.
Taylor was the lone bright spot for Ohio in its 91-57 loss to MAC West Division foe Toledo on Jan. 16 at the Convo. He provided the Bobcats with a career-high 15 points, shooting 6-of-9 from the field. He also added five blocks, five rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes of play.
YEAR FOUR OF PHILLIPS ERA
Ohio enters its fourth season under the direction of Phillips in 2017-18. Phillips has led the Bobcats to 65 wins over the past three-plus seasons. He coached his 100th game on the Ohio bench in the quadruple overtime triumph over Indiana State in the Charleston Classic.
Phillips, who served seven years as the head coach at North Dakota State before coming to Athens, reached the 200-career win mark with the victory over Bowling Green.
SCOUTING THE REDHAWKS
The RedHawks are led by first-year head coach Jack Owens. His squad is last in the league in points per game (71.8) but second in opponent points per (70.4) and opponent three-point field goal percentage (33.0 percent). Miami was predicted to finish last in the MAC East Division standings in the conference's preseason poll.
Freshman guard Nike Sibande is Miami's top scoring threat, averaging a team-high 14.6 points per game. The RedHawks have a balanced offensive attack, with four other players averaging at least eight points per game in junior guard Darrian Ringo (9.2), senior forward Logan McLane (9.0), freshman guard Jalen Adaway (8.7) and freshman forward Dalonte Brown (8.5). Ringo also averages a MAC-high 7.2 assists per game (224 assists, fifth in the country), which sixth fifth in the country, and a MAC-high 2.7 steals per game (85 steals, fifth in the country), which ranks seventh in the country.
In Friday's game against Ohio, Miami was led by Sibande, who scored a game-high 23 off 5-of-11 shooting from the field -- including four treys -- and 9-of-14 shooting from the charity stripe. He also distributed four assists, collected three steals and grabbed a rebound in 38 minutes. Adaway totaled 13 points, four rebounds and a block over 31 minutes. McLane shot 4-of-5 from the field en route to 10 points in addition to tallying four rebounds and a steal over 22 minutes. Brown scored 10 points off 4-of-5 shooting -- including a pair of three-pointers -- and achieved a double-double courtesy of a game-high 10 boards. He also notched an assist and a block over 30 minutes of work off of the bench.
In two games against Ohio this year, Sibande has averaged 22.5 points while Brown has averaged 13 and a team-high seven rebounds. Ringo has also averaged double digits against the Bobcats with 10 points while Adaway (9.0), sophomore forward Bam Bowman (8.5) and McLake are just behind him (8.0).
For Ohio, Dartis has averaged a team-high 22 points against the RedHawks while Laster (14), Kirk (12.5), Mickle (10) and Taylor (10) are also averaging double figures in points. Taylor has averaged nine rebounds per game against Miami while Kirk has averaged seven.
Ohio leads the all-time series with Miami, 110-92 (.545) and is 7-1 against the RedHawks under Phillips.