By Pete Nakos
ATHENS, OHIO – For the first time since December, Ohio was able to string together back-to-back wins.
The Bobcats were able to hold off Kent State on Tuesday night, defeating the Golden Flashes 88-76 at The Convo. Ahead 62-60 with 9:12 left in the second half, Ohio responded by going on an 8-0 run to put the game away, with six of those points coming from freshman guard Teyvion Kirk.
Here's how it went down:
THE SKINNY: Ohio led by as many as 11 points midway through the second half, before Kent State went on an 11-2 run to make it a 62-60 game. But the Bobcats dominated the rest of the way, thanks to the 8-0 run led by Kirk, who scored 13 points in the second half. The Golden Flashes made one last late run -- shrinking the lead to nine points -- but two free-throws from Mike Laster and a 3-pointer from James Gollon sealed the deal.
TURNING POINT: With 9:12 left in the second half, Ohio led 62-60. The Bobcats responded with eight straight points to expand the lead. A lay-up from junior forward Gavin Block started the run. Kirk took over for the final six points of the run, which came from two lay-ups and a pair of free-throws.
IMPACT PLAYER: Block. After exiting the game in the second half due to a hand injury, he came right back out of the tunnel to join his teammates on the bench. When he was put back into the game with 8:58 left in the game, he made a lay-up to spur the 8-0 run and gave the Bobcats a boost. He finished the game with just two points, but for a team that needed a boost, it couldn't have come at a better time. Block did contribute a team-high four assists.
STARTLING STAT: 19 – Ohio assists. The Bobcats came one assist short of their season-high 20 assists, but 19 will work for coach Saul Phillips. The fourth-year coach has said countless times this season that success for Ohio will come with sharing the ball. Tuesday night was a step in the right direction.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Bobcats improve to 12–15 overall and 5-10 in Mid-American Conference play with three regular-season games left. Ohio has now won two straight games at home.
WHAT'S NEXT? Ohio heads back on the road to face Buffalo at Alumni Arena on Saturday, Feb. 24 for a 3:30 p.m. ET tipoff on ESPN3.
Pete Nakos is the Writer for Ohio Athletics. Have any questions? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Pete_Nakos96.