Ohio University (10-5) at Western Michigan (8-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 12, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: University Arena (5,421) -- Kalamazoo, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: Ohio 10-1, WMU 4-0. Away Record: Ohio 0-4, WMU 2-6. Neutral Record: Ohio 0-0, WMU 2-0. Conference Record: Ohio 1-0, WMU 0-1. Series Record: Ohio leads, 63-59.
GAME NOTES: The Ohio University Bobcats will try once again to capture their first true road win of the season as they visit University Arena for a Mid- American Conference bout against the Western Michigan Broncos.
The Bobcats have built some momentum early in the new year with routs of Marshall (94-57) and Buffalo (86-68) in their last two outings. The pair of wins improved Ohio to a 10-5 overall record with the latter also giving it a 1-0 mark in MAC play. Coach Jim Christian's squad has shown the ability to outplay its opposition on both ends of the floor during the first half of its schedule. The Bobcats are second in the MAC in both scoring offense (75.3 ppg) and scoring defense (63.2).
WMU returns home with the hope of ending its current two-game slide that consisted of a pair of double-digit setbacks at NC State (84-68) and Akron (65-43). The Broncos are just 2-5 over their last seven outings, which spoiled their red-hot 6-1 start. Coach Steve Hawkins will be happy to return to University Arena, as his unit has yet to lose in Kalamazoo this season. WMU is in the middle of the road in the MAC offensively with a 65.4 ppg average, which is just 0.3 points better than its allowed average.
These two schools are no strangers on the hardwood. Ohio owns a 63-59 all-time series lead after its 56-51 decision in last season's lone meeting.
Ohio was able to collect its second straight lopsided decision on Wednesday as star senior guard D.J. Cooper poured in 21 points and dealt out seven assists to lead the charge. The Bulls turned the ball over 17 times and shot 38.2 percent from the floor, while Ohio had only 10 turnovers and shot 50.8 percent. Reggie Kelly was the only other Ohio player to score in double- figures with 19 points, while Jon Smith paced the team on the glass with seven rebounds coming off the bench. Cooper is the undeniable leader with 14.6 points and a conference leading 8.4 assists per outing. His tally of assists was augmented by his school-record 17-assist performance versus Marshall a week ago. Cooper is going to keep racking up assists with ease due to the strong role players surrounding him at all times. Walter Offutt, Keely, Ivo Baltic, and Nick Kellogg all bring different aspects to the table to make the Bobcats a complete team.
The Broncos submitted a forgettable performance against the Zips in their opener on Wednesday. Akron held a 41-30 edge in the rebounding battle and converted WMU's 15 turnovers into 19 points. Sophomore guard Austin Richie paced the Broncos with 11 points, but none of his teammates joined him in double-figures as the team shot just 32.7 percent from the field in the contest. Richie's decent showing gives WMU fans a reason to be optimistic about the future, but they cannot be too thrilled their top three scorers Nate Hutcheson (12.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg), Darius Paul (11.6 ppg) and Shayne Whittington (11.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg) went a combined 7-of-24 from the floor to net a total of 16 points in the opener.
Ohio should finally be able to grab that first true road win that has been very elusive to this point. The Bobcats had a long December with just two wins in seven outings, but they have been on fire in 2013.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio University 74, Western Michigan 61
01/12 10:50:31 ET