Buffalo (5-9) at Ohio University (9-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 9, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Convocation Center (13,168) -- Athens, Ohio. Television: SportsTime Ohio. Home Record: Buffalo 3-2, Ohio 9-1. Away Record: Buffalo 2-4, Ohio 0-4. Neutral Record: Buffalo 0-3, Ohio 0-0. Conference Record: Buffalo 0-0, Ohio 0-0. Series Record:Ohio University leads, 24-8.
GAME NOTES: The Ohio University Bobcats are set to tip-off their Mid-American Conference slate as they welcome the Buffalo Bulls to The Convocation Center.
For just the second time since the 2002-03 season, Buffalo enters MAC action below .500 with a losing record of 5-9. Reggie Witherspoon's squad lost for the second time in three outings on Jan. 2 when it suffered a 63-57 setback at Tulsa. The Bulls are one of the better teams in the league defensively with an allowed average of only 64.8 points per game, but they are scoring just 64 ppg on 43.9 percent shooting from the field due to a MAC worst 16.4 turnovers per contest.
Jim Christian's Bobcats appeared to be headed straight back to the NCAA Tournament early on as they opened up the season with six consecutive victories, but they came back down to Earth and managed just two wins over their next seven contests. Ohio appears to have regained its early season form just in time as it completed a 94-57 rout of Marshall on Saturday to finish its non-conference slate with a 9-5 record, including a 9-1 mark at home. The Bobcats are ranked first in the MAC in scoring defense (62.9) and second in scoring offense (74.5).
Buffalo will be looking for revenge in this one after losing three times to the Bobcats in 2011-12, including in the semifinal round of the MAC Tournament. Ohio's three-game sweep last season improved its all-time series lead over the Bulls to 24-8.
Junior forward Javon McCrea did his best to guide Buffalo versus the Golden Hurricane, as he registered 22 points and 11 boards, while sophomore forward Will Regan chipped in 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting. However, the rest of the squad went just 7-of-35 from the field in the loss. The Bulls' backcourt is clearly weaker without Jarod Oldham (10.1 ppg) in the mix. Oldham will continue to be missed as he recovers from a wrist injury. McCrea is pacing the team with 15.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per outing. Regan has scored in double figures in eight of his last 11 games to increase his scoring output to 11 points per game.
All five of Ohio's starters scored in double figures in their blowout of the Thundering Herd. Senior point guard D.J. Cooper filled up the stat sheet with 12 points, a school-record 17 assists, six rebounds, and four steals. Nick Kellogg snapped a two-game scoreless streak by tallying 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting with five makes from 3-point range. Reggie Keely made 8-of-9 shots en route to 18 points, Walter Offutt had 13, and Ivo Baltic chipped in 12. Ohio forced 26 Marshall turnovers which the Bobcats traded in for 51 points. Cooper is the top scorer (14.1) on the team and the MAC's leader in assists (8.5). Offutt (12 ppg) and Keely (10 ppg) are both scoring in double figures, while Kellogg and Baltic are adding just under 10 points per bout.
Although these squads had a few spirited battles last season, Buffalo has not been the same team and will be hindered by Oldham's absence against the opportunistic Bobcats. Ohio's ability to create off of turnovers will be its biggest weapon against Buffalo, which will have trouble finding someone to slow down Cooper.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio University 74, Buffalo 63
01/09 10:36:07 ET