Ohio University (20-6) at Belmont (21-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 10 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Curb Events Center (5,000) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: OU 15-1, Belmont 10-0. Away Record: OU 5-5, Belmont 9-5. Neutral Record: OU 0-0, Belmont 2-1. Conference Record: OU 11-1, Belmont 12-2. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The MAC meets the OVC tonight at the Curb Events Center in Nashville, as the Belmont Bruins are set to host the Ohio University Bobcats in a BracketBuster matchup.
This will be the first time these two programs have ever faced each other on the hardwood.
Ohio improved to 11-1 in the Mid-American Conference with Wednesday's 73-50 rout of Eastern Michigan. The win was the fifth in a row and 12th in the last 13 games for the Bobcats. Their only loss in that span came earlier this month at the MAC East Division-leading Akron Zips.
Belmont currently sits atop the Ohio Valley Conference East Division standings with a 12-2 league mark and 21-6 overall record. The Bruins are back on campus after splitting a four-game road trip, although they ended it on a positive note with Wednesday's 80-49 drubbing of Eastern Illinois. They are unbeaten in 10 home games this season.
The Bobcats simply overwhelmed Eastern Michigan the last time out, as they made their first seven shots to jump out to an early 17-3 lead. When the final second had ticked off the clock, they had distributed 23 assists on 28 field goals. Reggie Keely led the way with a game-high 20 points, while D.J. Cooper made 4-of-8 3-pointers and finished with 16 points and 10 assists. Defensively, OU held the Eagles to a dismal 27.6 percent shooting effort from the field. Cooper is the team's leading scorer on the season, averaging 13.7 points per game while shooting 35.1 percent from the perimeter. Keely, as 64 percent shooter from the floor, is next in line with 11.9 ppg, followed by Walter Offutt with 11.3 ppg. As a team, Oakland is shooting a healthy 48 percent from the floor, which includes a 36.3 percent effort from long range.
The Bruins have been even more deadly at the offensive end, as they are shooting 49.2 percent from the floor and 39.9 percent from beyond the arc. Leading scorer Ian Clark (18.4 ppg) is among the nation's most dangerous sharpshooters, having made 48.1 percent of his 3-point attempts (87-of-181). Kerron Johnson (13.1 ppg), Trevor Noack (12.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and J.J. Mann (10.1 ppg) are also averaging double figures, and all four of those players have been in the starting lineup together for every game this season. On Wednesday night, Belmont forced EIU into 19 turnovers and held the Panthers to 31.9-percent shooting. Mann and Noack shared game-high scoring honors with 21 points apiece, as they combined to knock down an impressive 15-of-20 field goals. Blake Jenkins added 13 points and six rebounds in the win.
This matchup figures to be a high-scoring one between two of the top teams in their respective conferences. Give a slight edge to the Bruins who have yet to lose at home this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Belmont 92, Ohio University 87
02/23 10:40:43 ET