'Hawks fall to Bobcats
The Miami University men's basketball team fell to 7-10 (2-3 Mid-American Conference (MAC)) Wednesday night with a 74-62 loss to rival Ohio University in the 190th "Battle of the Bricks." The 'Hawks are now 5-3 at home this season, having dropped the first game of a three game home stand to an Ohio team that returns all of its core players from last season's Sweet 16 run.
The win improves Ohio's record to 14-5 (5-0 MAC), the 'Cats' best start since the 1998-99 season.
Redshirt junior forward Will Felder led Miami with a double-double, scoring a game-high 19 points and grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds. Freshman guard Geovonie McKnight also scored a career-high 11 points.
"I just tried to be the spark and tried to get a few steals," McKnight said. "I just got a little confidence and started getting some buckets."
Miami came out strong, pounding the ball inside to Felder on three consecutive possessions to claim a 6-2 lead. Redshirt junior guard Allen Roberts also established himself early, following Felder's quick six points with five of his own. The RedHawks and Bobcats traded baskets for the next few minutes, but Ohio eventually built a seven point advantage, 25-18. Both squads closed the first half scoring 11 points each, as Ohio held a 36-29 lead after a buzzer beater from 10 feet out.
The Bobcats shot 54 percent from beyond the arc in the opening half, while notching 12 assists. The opposite was the case for the RedHawks, as their 3-point shooting continued to suffer. Miami followed its 6-24 performance vs. Eastern Michigan with a 2-9 effort from deep in the first half.
"I think everyone understands if we don't shoot the basketball well, we're going to struggle," Head Coach John Cooper said. "We are who we are. It's an old clichÃ©, but it's the truth."
In the second half Ohio turned up the intensity, controlling the game on the defensive end, while racking up five consecutive three balls in the early minutes of the second half. The 'Hawks watched a seven-point hole balloon into a 22-point deficit, 58-36 with 13:50 to go.
"That's the type of team you just can't give wide-open looks," Felder said. "I wouldn't necessarily say that they got hot. They just did what they were supposed to do."
Ohio's two time All-MAC first team point guard D.J. Cooper paced his team with 17 points, nine assists, seven boards and three steals. Cooper played to his billing, as he is the second in the nation for assists. Ohio is the top ranked team in assists per game with 19.8 per contest.
Ohio's junior guard, Nick Kellogg, son of famed CBS Sports analyst Clark Kellogg, added 15 points on five triples as well.
"It's kind of how we play, Ohio Head Coach Jim Christian said. "We only have one low-post scorer. This is as well as we've shot the ball on the road. The reason why our 3-point shots were open, our post players were running the floor. When your post player runs down the middle, the defense kind of has to shrink in to take a layup away, and if our wings now run behind him, you get 3-point shots."
Miami made a late charge to get within 10 points, 71-61, with a little under 90 seconds of action, but couldn't capitalize on steals by redshirt junior guard Quinten Rollins and point blank attempts by Felder and junior forward Jon Harris.
"We're not going to ever lay down and let a team just pummel us, especially not OU," Felder said. "We just couldn't get over the hump at the end."
Ohio shot 52 percent from the floor and was 12-25 from beyond the arc. Miami was just 34 percent on 3 of 17 from deep.
"We (shot) 34 percent from the field," Cooper said. "Quite frankly, we're lucky we lost by 12."
Ohio senior forward Ivo Baltic surpassed the career 1,000 point and 600 rebound marks with his 13-point, 12 rebound effort. Miami's Harris recorded a career high eight boards as well. Roberts finished with 14 points.
Miami now squares off against Ball State University tomorrow in a 3 p.m. tipoff. The Cardinals are also 7-10 on the year, but own a 1-4 MAC record, last in the West. The Cardinals boast three players averaging 12 points a game, but struggle in the half court offense, shooting 41 percent. Ball State has lost six of its last eight games. This will be the only regular season meeting between the two teams. The RedHawks won last season 59-53 at Ball State. With a win over Ball State, Miami would earn its 600th all time MAC victory.
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