ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio men's basketball team (4-4) looks to bounce back as it returns to the Convocation Center on Sunday (Dec. 10) to play host to Western Kentucky (6-2). Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET.
Sunday'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 1:30 p.m. ET with 'Countdown To Tipoff.'
OHIO SUFFERS DEFEAT AT MARYLAND
The Bobcats suffered an 87-62 loss to Big Ten Conference foe Maryland (8-3) last Thursday (Dec. 7) at Xfinity Center.
Ohio shot just 35 percent (21-of-60) from the field -- including 25 percent (5-of-20) from three-point range -- while the Terrapins made 48.5 percent of their shots and dominated the box score in rebounds (49-29) and points in the paint (44-26).
Senior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) is looking to make his final season as a Bobcat his best yet, and he's off to a good start. Laster is averaging 15.9 points per game to lead the team and is shooting 48.2 percent (53-of-110) from the field. Between Nov. 19-28, he 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.
Laster led led Ohio with a 14-point effort against Maryland last Thursday, marking the sixth time this year he has finished in double figures in points and has led the team in scoring a team-high five times.
Over his last 26 games, Laster is averaging 10.1 points per game and is shooting 52.2 percent (107-of-205) from the field.
CARTER RETURNS FROM INJURY
Ohio's frontcourt received a boost with the return of sophomore forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio), who missed the first seven games of the 2017-18 season with a lower leg injury. He posted six points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals in 16 minutes of action off of the bench in his season debut against Maryland.
A 2017-18 Preseason All-Mid-American Conference East Division Team selection, Carter received All-MAC Freshman Team selection in 2016-17 after playing in all 31 games and starting the final 15 contests. He logged 306 points (9.9 per game) to rank fourth on the team, 202 rebounds (6.5 per game) to lead the team, 20 blocks (0.6 per game) to rank second on the team, 20 steals (0.6 per game) to rank fifth on the team and 18 assists (0.6 per game) over 643 minutes (20.7 per game) to rank fifth on the team. Carter shot 50.9 percent (115-of-226) from the field to rank fourth on the team. He finished in double figures in points 13 times -- including recording 20 or more points three times -- and double figures in rebounds six times. Carter achieved six double-doubles to tie for the team lead and led the team in scoring six times and rebounding a team-high 15 times.
ROOKIE PLAYING LIKE A VET
Freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) has impressed through his first eight games as a Bobcat. Starting at point guard in every contest, he is averaging 13.6 points per game to rank third on the team and is shooting 45.6 percent (41-of-90) from the field. He was the lone Bobcat to tally double-digit points the first six contests of the year. He is also averaging a team-high 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
PROTECT THIS HOUSE
Ohio has registered an impressive 490-157 (.757) all-time record at the Convocation Center, which opened in 1968.
In three seasons under Phillips, Ohio has gone 39-15 (.722) at home.
SCOUTING THE HILLTOPPERS
Western Kentucky rides a four-game winning streak into Sunday's contest against Ohio. The Hilltoppers are receiving votes in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, thanks in large part to upsetting then No. 18/16-ranked Purdue, 77-73, on Nov. 23 in a Battle 4 Atlantis matchup in Nassau, Bahamas.
Rick Stansbury is in his second season as head coach of the Hilltoppers. His squad has been shooting the ball well, owning a 48.7 percent field goal percentage to rank 50th in the nation -- including a 41.9 percent success rate from beyond the arc, which is good for 17th in the country.
Six Hilltoppers are averaging double figures in scoring, with graduate guard Darius Thompson averaging a team-high 14.0 per game. Redshirt junior guard Lamonte Bearden, a transfer from Buffalo, is averaging 12.5 points per game. Graduate forward Dwight Coleby (11.8 points per game), freshman guard Taveion Hollingsworth (11.8), senior forward Justin Johnson (11.1) and freshman guard Jake Ohmer (10.0) join Thompson and Bearden in averaging double figures in scoring. Johnson leads Western Kentucky in rebounding with 9.1 boards per game.
Ohio meets Western Kentucky for the sixth time on Sunday and second year in a row. The Hilltoppers edged the Bobcats, 67-66, on Dec. 21, 2016, at E.A. Diddle Arena. The contest marked the first time the two teams had met since Western Kentucky defeated Ohio, 97-87, on March 12, 1960, in the NCAA Mideast Regional in Louisville, Ky. Ohio's last win over Western Kentucky came during the 1945-46 season in the Hilltoppers' last trip to Athens, which resulted in a 65-42 win for the Bobcats.
Ohio is 60-52 (.535) against current Conference USA members.
Ohio makes the trek to Huntington, W. Va., to take on longtime rival Marshall on Saturday (Dec. 16). Tip-off is now scheduled for 8 p.m. ET at the Cam Henderson Center.