Ohio University (18-8) at Akron (17-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 22, 6 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: James A. Rhodes Arena (5,500) -- Akron, Ohio. Television: TWC, ESPN3.com. Home Record: Ohio 11-4, Akron 10-1. Away Record: Ohio 7-4, Akron 6-6. Neutral Record: Ohio 0-0, Akron 1-2. Conference Record: Ohio 8-5, Akron 9-4. Series Record: Series is tied, 35-35.
GAME NOTES: Two teams in the mix for the Mid-American Conference title get together on Saturday, as the Ohio University Bobcats tangle with the Akron Zips at James A. Rhodes Arena.
Ohio has failed to find a rhythm in either direction recently, trading wins and losses in its last five bouts. The most recent decision was a 73-63 loss at home to league-leading Western Michigan. The Bobcats own the second-best overall record in the MAC (18-8), but they are currently in third place in the East Division. Important clashes with Buffalo and Kent State are next on the schedule.
Akron has stumbled a bit of late, with two losses in its last three games, including a 96-90 setback to Buffalo on Wednesday. The Zips are a solid 17-9 overall this season, but the recent loss dropped them into a tie for first place in the East Division with the Bulls (9-4). They will play their final road game of the season next against Miami-Ohio.
The first bout between these rivals this season did not lack drama, as Akron survived with an 83-80 victory in double-overtime. The Zips have won four straight against Ohio, tying the all-time series at 35-35.
Turnovers really hurt Ohio in its loss to Western Michigan. The Bobcats coughed up the ball 17 times, leading to 23 points for the Broncos, who also had a 40-28 scoring advantage in the paint. Nick Kellogg nailed four 3- pointers and finished with 20 points to pace OU in defeat.
Kellogg (15.5 ppg) and Maurice Ndour (15.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2 bpg) have seemingly had to carry the Bobcats alone this season, with no other player netting more than 8.6 ppg. Ndour is more than a scorer, however, as he leads the team in rebounding and ranks fourth in the league in blocked shots. He finished with 14 points and two rejections against Western Michigan, but he turned the ball over five times and collected only five boards. Even though the team relies heavily on only two players, the Bobcats are still a solid offensive bunch, at least in comparison to the rest of the MAC, ranking fourth in scoring (72.2 ppg) and third in field goal percentage (.454).
It was an offensive marathon for Akron against Buffalo earlier in the week, but it was a race the Zips ultimately lost. They connected on 52.2 percent of their shots from the floor, including 10-of-23 from 3-point range, but they could not keep up with the Bulls' sizzling 63.3 percent effort.
Akron has not been consistent enough on offense this season to expect to win such explosive encounters. The Zips are netting only 68.8 ppg on 43.5 percent field goal efficiency. However, they have kept themselves in good position by allowing only 66.7 ppg on 43.1 percent shooting. There are also only two double-digit scorers on the roster, with Demetrius Treadwell (14.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg) the top candidate to carry the offensive burden. Treadwell, who is third in the MAC in rebounding, tallied 21 points in the loss to Buffalo. Meanwhile, Quincy Diggs (12.2 ppg), who represents the next-best scoring threat, finished with 14 points.
With their ability to defend, the Zips should be able to hone in on Kellogg and Ndour and force the rest of the Bobcats to beat them. That will be a tough task for Ohio, which is facing a team with a 10-1 mark on its home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Akron 72, Ohio University 68
02/22 11:10:04 ET