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No. 10 Ohio Men’s Basketball Set to Open 2019 MAC Tournament at No. 7 NIU

No. 10 Ohio Men’s Basketball Set to Open 2019 MAC Tournament at No. 7 NIU

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OHIO MEN'S BASKETBALL 2018-19 • GAME 31
Monday, March 11, 2019
9 p.m. ET | No. 10 Ohio (14-16) vs. No. 7 Miami (15-16) | NIU Convocation Center | DeKalb, Ill. |PDF MAC BracketLive Stats | ESPN+Listen | Ohio Notes | NIU Notes

ATHENS, Ohio– The 10th-seeded Ohio men's basketball team (14-16) beings play in the 2-19 Mid-American Conference Tournament on Monday, March 11 when they take on No. 7 Northern Illinois (15-16) in DeKalb, Ill. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. ET inside the NIU Convocation Center. 

Monday's contest will be broadcast on the WatchESPN App where Dave Bernhard and Carl Armato will have the call. The game will also be on the Ohio Sports Network from Learfield IMG College, the 'Voice of the Bobcats' Russ Eisenstein and Rob Cornelius on the call. Radio pregame coverage is set to begin at 8:30 p.m. ET with 'Countdown To Tipoff.'

SCOUTING NORTHERN ILLINOIS
NIU enters the contest with the Bobcats with an overall record of 15-6 overall and finished with an 8-10 MAC record, setting them up at the No. 7 seed in this year's tournament. 

As a team, NIU is averaging 73.5 points per game and is shooting 46.5 percent from the field, 34.9 percent from three-point range and 73.3 percent from the free throw line. The Huskies are averaging 35.1 rebounds per game to go along with 11.3 assists, 5.6 steals and 2.3 blocks per contest. The Huskies also average 12.0 turnovers per game, while they force opponents to cough the ball up 12.8 times per game. 

Meanwhile, opponents are averaging 71.1 points per game and shot shooting 43.4 percent from the field, 35.8 percent from three-point range and 67.8 percent from the free throw line. Opponents also average 33.5 rebounds, 13.8 assists, 5.6 steals and 2.3 blocks per game. 

Individually, Eugene German is leading the Huskies with 19.6 points per game and is shooting 47.0 percent from the field, 40.2 percent from three-point range and 68.9 percent from the free throw line. Levi Bradley is averaging 14.6 points and 5.3 rebounds a game and is shooting 49.7 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three-point range. Meanwhile, Dante Thorpe is adding 13.8 points per game and a team-high 76 assists. Lacey James averages a team-leading 7.1 rebounds per game, while also recording a team-high 21 blocks. 

IN NIU'S LAST GAME
Northern Illinois is entering the tournament after defeating Ball State, 64-57, on March 8. 

In that game, Levi Bradley scored 22 points, going 9-of-20 from the field, while Eugene German scored 15 points and Noah McCarty added 10 points for the Huskies. 

NIU shot 36.8 percent from the field, 26.7 percent from three-point range and went 10-for-10 form the field. Meanwhile, Ball State shot 45.3 percent from the field, 14.3 percent from three-point range and 50 percent from the free throw line. 

SERIES HISTORY
This is the 56th all-time meeting between the two teams, with Ohio leading the all-time series, 35-20. The Bobcats and NIU last met on Jan. 2, with the Bobcats falling 71-60 in DeKalb.  

The Bobcats have dropped both matchups with NIU this year, however, have won four out of the last six matchups. 

LAST TIME AGAINST NORTHERN ILLINOIS
Ohio and NIU met for the second time this season on Jan. 22 when NIU defeated Ohio, 71-60 in DeKalb, Ill. 

Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio) finished the game with 15 points, going 6-of-15 form the field and 3-of-4 from the free throw line, while also grabbing six rebounds. Sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) finished with 10 points, going 3-of-9 from the field and 4-of-6 form the free throw line. He also grabbed six rebounds. Senior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) finished with eight points, while senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) finished with seven points and six rebounds.

Overall, Ohio shot 35.7 percent from the field, 19.2 percent from three-point range and 68.2 percent from the free throw line, while NIU shot 43.4 percent from the field, 40.0 percent from three-point range and 86.4 percent from the free throw line. Bother teams grabbed 36 rebounds, while NIU dished out 15 assists to Ohio's nine. Ohio grabbed four steals to NIU's three, with the Bobcats and Huskies both scoring 30 points in the paint. 

For NIU, Thorpe finished the game with 20 points, going 5-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 from three-point range. Eugene German scored 15 points and dished out six assists, while Levi Bradley scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds for NIU.

ROAD TO CLEVELAND
The 2019 MAC Basketball Tournament will once again be held at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. This year's tournament will begin on March 11 with first round games on campus before moving to Cleveland (March 14-16). The tournament semifinal games will air on CBS Sports Network and Fox College Sports, while the title game will be played on Saturday, March 14 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 2019 MAC Basketball Tournament will earn the league's automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship field. Selection Sunday is March 17, 2018. 

The winner of Monday's matchup between Ohio and NIU will punch its ticket to Cleveland to square off with No. 2-seeded Toledo (25-6) on Thursday (March 14) 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 0-1 against the Rockets in the 2019 regular season, losing 75-52 on Jan. 18 at Savage Arena. 

OHIO IN THE MAC TOURNAMENT
The Bobcats are 41-31 (.569) all-time in the MAC Tournament -- including 2-4 (.333) under head coach Saul Phillips -- and have captured six league tournament crowns. Ohio is making its 38th appearance in the MAC Tournament in 2019. Last year, the Bobcats locked down the No. 10 seed in the 2018 MAC Tournament presented by VisitMyrtleBeach.com, falling to No. 7 Miami in Oxford, Ohio. 

Ohio is 10-4 (.714) all-time in the first round of the MAC Tournament and will be the second-straight year the Bobcats have opened the tournament on the road. The Bobcats will be playing a MAC Tournament First Round game on the road for the sixth time. The Bobcats are 2-3 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 third time. Since 2000, when the league expanded the tournament field, the No. 10-seed is 0-19 all-time in the MAC Tournament. 

Ohio will be facing NIU in the MAC Tournament for the first time since March 10, 2016, when the Bobcats earned a 79-62 win over the Huskies in the second round at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The Bobcats are 1-1 all-time against NIU in the MAC Tournament. 

LAST TIME OUT FOR OHIO
The Bobcats are coming off of a 66-57 victory over Miami on Senior Night on March 8. 

Leading the Bobcats was redshirt sophomore forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio), who posted a career-high 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Carter made the most free throws in his career as he was 11-of-12 from the line while knocking down one from the three point line. Carter added five rebounds and one assist in 33 minutes on the floor. Freshman forward Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) and Senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) each had 10 points in the win. Preston was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line and was 3-of-6 from the field while Taylor was 3-of-5 overall and 4-of-6 from the line. Preston had seven boards and two assists in 39 minutes on the floor. Taylor had a team-high eight boards and saw the floor for 27 minutes. 

Redshirt freshman forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) and redshirt sophomore guard Connor Murrell (Sioux City, Iowa) each had seven points. 

As a team, Ohio shot 38.5 percent (20-of-52) from the field and 20.0 percent (4-of-20) from behind the three-point line. The Bobcats were an impressive 84.6 (22-of-26) from the free throw line and knocked down 18 of their 22 free throws in the second half. Ohio held Miami to just 28.4 percent shooting from the field (19-of-67) and 8-of-32 (25.0 percent) from behind the arc. The second half defense was stellar, allowing Miami to shoot just 21.9 percent (7-of-32) overall and 14.3 percent (2-of-14) from deep.

For the RedHawks, Nike Sibande led Miami with 22 points, followed by Mekhi Lairy would score 16 points. Bam Bowman led Miami with 11 rebounds while Darrian Ringo dished out a team-high four assists.

SCOUTING OHIO
The Bobcats enter the matchup with Miami with an overall record of 14-16 and finished the regular season with a 6-12 mark in MAC play. 

Ohio is averaging 70.4 points per game. They are shooting 43.8 percent from the field, 30.1 percent from three-point range and 63.2 percent from the free throw line. The Bobcats are also averaging 37.3 rebounds a contest to go along with 14.8 assists, 6.6 steals and 3.8 blocks per game. 

Individually, Jason Carter is averaging 16.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He is shooting 48.6 percent from the field, 34.9 percent from three-point range and 72.2 percent from the free throw line. Meanwhile, Teyvion Kirk is adding 14.1 points per game 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. 

Doug Taylor is leading the Bobcats with 1.9 blocks per game, while Jason Preston is shooting 43.7 percent from the field, while also adding 3.5 assists per game. 

CARTER'S MUCH NEEDED BOOST
Carter has led the Bobcats in scoring in 30 of Ohio's 30 games, recording a double-double against Wilberforce, and scoring 24 points against Campbell. 

Carter also added a double-double against Austin Peay on Nov. 24, while trying a career-high with 25 points in that matchups and did the same thing on Dec. 1 against Marshall.  Carter added another double-double on Jan. 15 against Kent State, scoring 11 points and grabbing 13 boards. 

This season, Carter is averaging 16.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He is shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 72.2 percent from the free throw line. He has also jumped his three-point shooting percentage, shooting 34.9 percent overall and 40.4 percent since MAC play began. 

Carter was also named the MAC East Co-Player of the Week on Dec. 3. 

Carter's presence inside has also been huge, most notably on Dec. 30 when Carter grabbed an offensive board with just under 10 seconds to go and connected on the go-ahead basket in Ohio's 68-66 victory over FIU. 

On Jan. 8 at Bowling Green, Carter hit a new career-high with five made three-point baskets. 

Carter added another double-double on the season on Feb. 16 at CMU with 13 points and 10 rebounds. 

On Feb. 22 in Ohio's upset victory over BGSU, Carter scored 23 points and has eight rebounds in the OT win. 

On March 8 on Ohio's final game of the season, Carter scored a career-high 26 points, going 7-of-13 from the field and 11-of-12 from the free throw line.

BIG BEN ALERT
Vander Plas is averaging 8.8 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting .415 from the field and .314 from three-point range.

The redshirt freshman, who missed all of last season due to injury, scored 16 against Wilberforce, 15 against Campbell and 10 points against LMU. 

Right now, Vander Plas' biggest impact came on Nov. 27 against Iona, where he scored a career-high 18 points and 11 rebounds to register his first career double-double. 

Vander Plas would go on to tie his career-high of 18 points on Dec. 1 against Marshall. 

On Dec. 20 at Purdue, Vander Plas led the Bobcats with 15 points and tying a career-high with four made three-pointers. 

On Jan. 26 against Ball State, Vander Plas grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds. 

Vander Plas' career day came on Feb. 16 with he scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, while also dishing out a career-high four assists against CMU.

BVP was dominate again in Ohio's 73-49 win at Akron on March 2, scoring 20 points and hitting a career-high six three pointers in the victory.  

TK GOING FOR ROUND TWO
Currently, Kirk is second on the team with 14.1 points per game. He also added 5.6 rebounds, while shooting 41.5 percent from the field. He has also recorded 73 total assists and 41 steals for the Bobcats.  

On Dec. 15 at Detroit Mercy, Kirk drained the game-winning three-pointer with under a minute to go to lead Ohio to a 63-61 victory. 

BLOCK PARTY
Doug Taylor, who currently registers 146 blocks in his career, which moves him into fifth all-time in program history. 

Taylor needs two more to pass Jon Smith for fourth all-time.

GAVIN CHARGE
Throughout his career, senior forward/guard Gavin Block has drawn 88 charges.

DOUGIE FRESH BIG DOWN THE STRETCH
As the regular season comes to a close, senior forward Doug Taylor has been dominate over the last five games. 

Over those games, Taylor has averaged 12.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, has had 10 blocks, three assists and is shooting 79.3 percent from the field. 

PRESTON COMING INTO HIS OWN
Freshman guard Jason Preston has begun to prove himself down the stretch of the 2018-19 season. Preston has registered a team-high 95 assists on the season, while dishing out a career-high nine against WMU. 

Then on Feb. 22, Preston registered seven assists and did not commit a turnover in 43 minutes in the 92-87 OT victory over BGSU. 

Preston continued that trend the next game on Feb. 26 against Kent State, scoring 11 points and dishing out eight assists with no turnovers. 

Once again Preston was solid in Ohio's win at Akron, grabbing a career-high nine rebounds, dished out five assists and had no turnovers in 33 minutes. 

In the last five games, Preston has averaged 8.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists and two turnovers. 

OHIO IN THE MAC -TEAM
In the Mid-American Conference, the Bobcats currently rank sixth in rebounding offense (37.3) and sixth in defensive rebounding percentage (.725). Ohio is also seventh in steals (6.6), fourth in blocked shots (3.8) and third in assists (14.7).  

OHIO IN THE MAC -INDIVIDUAL 
Individually, Carter is currently seventh in the MAC in scoring (16.5), while Taylor is third in field goal percentage (.613) and Preston is eighth in assists (3.4).  

Taylor is first in blocked shots (1.9) and eighth in offensive rebounds (2.6). Preston in second in assists/turnover ratio (2.7). 

UP NEXT
With a win, the Bobcats will head to Cleveland, Ohio to take on No. 2 Toledo on Thursday, March 14 in the MAC Tournament Quarterfinals. Tip-off is set fro 6:30 p.m. inside Quicken Loans Arena. 

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