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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 2nd, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Millett Hall (9,200) -- Oxford, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: Ohio 16-1, Miami-Ohio 7-6. Away Record: Ohio 7-6, Miami-Ohio 2-12. Neutral Record: Ohio 0-0, Miami-Ohio 0-1. Conference Record: Ohio 10-5, Miami-Ohio 5-10. Series Record: Ohio leads, 98-91.
GAMES NOTES: One of the most historic rivalries in the Mid-American Conference will be renewed with conference tournament seedings hanging in the balance, as the Ohio University Bobcats travel to Millett Hall to square off with the Miami-Ohio RedHawks.
This will be the 190th meeting all-time between these in-state rivals after Ohio took the first matchup this season by a slim 69-65 margin near the end of January. The Bobcats lead the all-time series 98-91.
Ohio enters this matchup coming off of mixed results in its last two games. After routing the top team in the MAC by downing Akron 85-61 on Sunday the Bobcats then lost to Kent State 68-61 on Wednesday and find themselves in a tie for third in the conference at 10-5. Ohio could get as high as a second seed but a loss in this game would drop them toward the fourth seed.
Miami-Ohio does not have as lofty expectations entering the conference tournament as after four losses in its last five games, the RedHawks are just 5-10 against league competition and 9-19 overall.
Ohio wasted a phenomenal performance from D.J. Cooper by struggling on offense as a team (.364) against Kent State on Wednesday. The Bobcats kept the game close by holding the Golden Flashes to just 41.3 percent shooting but were eventually doomed by committing 21 turnovers.
The team's struggles on offense are not something that has been common for Ohio this season, as the Bobcats score at a solid 71.2 points per game rate which is the third best mark in the conference. The Bobcats are also one of the better defensive teams in the MAC with their opponents scoring only 62.5 points per game. Cooper (14.1 ppg, 5.6 apg) poured in a game-high 23 points and handed out four assists in Wednesday's loss although he took a great number of shots (9-of-21). Cooper is currently second in the conference in assists, but doesn't register near the top of the scoring list. Junior guard Walter Offutt (12.3 ppg) is the team's second leading scorer and only other player averaging in double figures. He managed only eight points on Wednesday. Reggie Keely (9.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg), Ivo Baltic (9.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Nick Kellogg (9.1 ppg) fill out the depth on the team.
Miami-Ohio lost a winnable game against Bowling Green last time out by falling in a 56-51 decision. The teams shot at a pretty even rate with the RedHawks connecting on 46.7 percent and the Falcons at 44.0 percent, but Bowling Green's advantages in points from three point range (18-15) and the free-throw line (6-4) proved to be the difference.
The loss was just another game and another double-double for senior forward Julian Mavunga (16.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg), who has sat atop the league in both scoring and rebounding for most of the season. On Wednesday Mavunga had his 14th double-double of the season by scoring 17 points and bringing down 10 rebounds. The RedHawks don't have much offensive punch after Mavunga with Brian Sullivan (10.3 ppg) the next highest scorer although Sullivan is more of a spot up shooter than a scorer that can create for himself as he shoots at a high rate from three point range (.466). The squad's lack of scoring depth puts it near the bottom of the conference in terms of offense (61.2 ppg) and even with Mavunga, the RedHawks are also the worst rebounding team in the MAC this season (29.7 rpg). Solid defense keeps games close however, allowing 64.4 points per contest.
Miami-Ohio will be sending off Mavunga in this game as the senior plays his final home contest which may give the RedHawks some momentum to open the game. However Ohio's stronger roster will eventually overcome any sentimental edge the RedHawks have.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio University 67, Miami-Ohio 61
03/02 10:33:06 ET
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