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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: James A. Rhodes Arena (5,500) -- Akron, Ohio. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Ohio 12-1, Akron 10-0. Away Record: Ohio 3-4, Akron 4-3. Neutral Record: Ohio 0-0, Akron 2-1. Conference Record: Ohio 6-0, Akron 7-0. Series Record:Ohio University leads, 35-31.
GAME NOTES: The only remaining teams in the Mid-American Conference without a loss in league action will battle for sole possession of first place on Saturday as the Ohio University Bobcats tangle with the Akron Zips at James A. Rhodes Arena.
Both of these squads have yet to fall to a league rival, despite a few close calls. Ohio is a half-game back in the standings with one less game played, but it holds a 35-31 all-time series lead versus Akron. The Zips will be out to avenge their 64-63 loss to Ohio in the 2012 MAC Championship game, which sent the Bobcats to the Big Dance for their Sweet 16 run.
Jim Christian's Bobcats had their game versus Eastern Michigan that was slated for Wednesday postponed due to a security issue on Ohio's campus. As a result, the Bobcats have had a week off since their 69-68 decision over Kent State on the road on last Saturday. The victory improved Ohio to 6-0 in conference action for the first time since 1973-74. The Bobcats went 28-of-56 from the field as senior point guard D.J. Cooper drained clutch free throws in the final minute en route to a team-high 23 points which he accompanied with five assists. The 2013 Cousy Award Finalist is one of the best passers in college basketball and already has MAC's all-time assists record. On the season, Ohio has won seven in a row to rise to a 15-5 mark overall. With a win against Akron on Saturday, Ohio will move to 7-0 in MAC games for the first time since the 1960-61 season.
Ohio has dominated its MAC foes this season and owns a +10.0 scoring margin through six games. The Bobcats have shown they are a very dangerous team from beyond the arc by hitting a conference leading total of 170 3-pointers in 20 games. Cooper is pacing the Bobcats with 14.6 ppg, Reggie Keely is second in scoring with 11.5 ppg, and Walter Offutt is a close third at 11.0 ppg. As a team, the Bobcats lead the nation with 19.3 assists per game.
Akron extended its winning streak to 12 games with a 68-55 victory over Bowling Green on Wednesday, giving it the second longest active winning streak in the nation behind Kansas (18). Coach Keith Dambrot's squad is outscoring its opponents by 11.4 points per game and holding a + 6.1 rebounding margin during conference action. The Zips have the top scoring offense (74.8) in the MAC as well as the second-best scoring defense (62.3). Senior center Zeke Marshall posts 12.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per contest while Demetrius Treadwell contributes 10.5 points and 7.5 boards a game. Marshall is the MAC's all-time and active NCAA career blocked shots leader (319). Junior point guard Alex Abreu is also valuable to Akron's success as he deals out 5.8 assists per tilt.
The Zips shot 48.3 percent from the floor (28-of-58) and 35.0 percent from long range (7-of-20) while limiting the Falcons to 33.3 percent (17-of-51) shooting on Wednesday to coast to the 13-point triumph. Treadwell registered a double- double of 10 points and 11 boards, while Marshall scored a team-high 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field. Nick Harney added 10 points, and Alex Abreu posted nine points and six assists. The win improved the Zips to 7-0 in league play for the first time since they joined the MAC in 1992-93.
Akron will need to set the tone with its defense as the Bobcats are 11-0 when they shoot 50 percent or better from the floor. Although Marshall is one of the top shot blockers in the nation, the Zips can still lose this one if Ohio continues to attack with efficiency from beyond the arc. The point guard matchup of Abreu and Cooper will be a big key to the outcome as well. If Abreu can contain Cooper, the Bobcats will have trouble getting their engine running.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Akron 75, Ohio University 70
02/02 10:35:28 ET