This was simply an incredible, complete game out of Akron. Yes, they had the home fans on their side, although all the pressure was on them to beat the Bobcats, who bested them in the MAC Championship, and retain their nation's-best winning streak. They did all that, and again it was a team effort. And for the fifth time in eight conference games, they had a new high scorer: Alex Abreu with 21 points and nine assists.
Ohio was playing wild all game and for the first part of the match it was working. After that 14-0 run it looked like they might run away with it, but the Zips held their ground and got everybody involved. Zeke Marshall had a showcase game. His defense was nice but this one was better on the offensive side, going 8-for-8 and landing with 17 points and 12 rebounds, four offensive. He added two assists and two blocks, and that's a solid day for him.
Then you can go down the line: Demetrius Treadwell had 15 points and kept them in it in the first half, Reggie McAdams played some decent minutes and drained some threes, and Nick Harney played a Chris Perez role by shutting down the game with some buckets and free throws.
DJ Cooper just had a poor game, and I wasn't expecting that from him. He got his 14 points and six assists, and passed incredibly well all game, but shot errantly all day. Walter Offutt couldn't find his rhythm, and Ivo Baltic took ONE shot all game. Nick Kellogg was the only one who short worth a darn, leading the team with 15 points, and T.J. Hall snuck in there with 12. Reggie Keely added 11 before fouling out.
Mind you, it's just one game. On Akron's return trip to Athens, don't expect just a flat shooting night out of the Bobcats. But if the Bobcats were going to lose, I felt it was because they had trouble stopping the Zips as a team. And 86 points ... yeah, that'll do it.
Can he miss? He cannot miss. With a man in his face, Alex Abreu just chucked up a 3-pointer to respond to DJ Cooper's trey on the other end — a shot the Bobcats had to have, given their sputtering execution on the offensive side — to stop a potential run for Ohio to get back into the game. Akron leads 71-57. Abreu now has 17 points and is near-perfect from the floor (7-for-8).
The only good news for Ohio is Zeke Marshall had to sit down with his fourth foul as the teams entered the under-8 timeout. But only five minutes remain. Cooper is starting to play hero ball from behind the arc, but he might need to trust his guys inside, stop the clock, and make some free throws. They've been doing that a bit, but perhaps need to get back into that habit.
The freshman small forward scored 20 points on perfect 6-for-6 shooting against Northern Illinois, but against Ohio he's having an arguably more impressive day on the court: 3-for-3 from three, plus an additional jumper gives him 11 points on the day. Akron now leads 59-50 at the under-12 timeout.
Meanwhile, Ohio continues to struggle shooting from the field: they're just 4-for-13 but at least making their free throws (5-for-6). But they can't let this game get away from them.
Also, Kansas's home loss to Oklahoma State gives Akron the longest winning streak in Division I.
Not a good ratio of points to fouls in the second half for Ohio. Nick Kellogg has all five points for the Bobcats, while they've committed four personal fouls, two by Ivo Baltic. Three of their starters now have three fouls, so their front line may need to sit on the bench for a while.
Neither team is shooting particularly well in the first half, but Akron has mustered six points, half of those on a 3-point play by Zeke Marshall.
For all the commotion about DJ Cooper — and the balanced scoring of the Zips — it's Alex Abreu starting to take over for Akron. He's not much of a scorer, but he does run the offense well and this afternoon he's 5-for-5 from the floor, including two threes for a total of 12 point and 3 assits. Akron finally took a 36-33 lead late in the first half and went into the locker room with a 41-36 advantage.
Abreu is rightly going to be overshadowed on the floor against Cooper, but right now it's the Puerto Rican point guard making the difference in Rhodes Arena. Cooper just has four points on 1-for-3 shooting and might be trying to force too much. He does have three assists but has made a couple wild passes that otherwise would've made the highlight reel if they were better.
That 14-0 run by the Bobcats seems like last Thursday. They were able to tack onto their point total with some free throws but their last basket was with 6:12 left in the half. The halftime buzzer was the best thing that could've happened to them.
Keeping Akron in the game is second chance points. Ohio is not a strong rebounding team and the Zips are taking advantage of that, led by Treadwell and Marshall, combining for 14 of their points.
Meanwhile, Ohio has no offensive rebounds but it's not like they need any — they're still shooting 73 percent. They're breaking down whatever defense the Zips are throwing at them and taking high-percentage shots.
Hey, Akron? You there? We were so excited for this game, and suddenly Ohio is turning it into a slaughter early. After Akron had an 8-5 lead, the Bobcats have stormed back with 14 unanswered points. The run, as it stands, was capped by a DJ Cooper steal and fastbreak layup. Right now they're shooting 80 percent from the floor and have created four steals.
Have you kept up yet? Two very jazzed-up teams began the game with a rigid pace and very few whistles. Nick Kellogg and Walter Offutt both hit 3-pointers, Reggie Keely scored 4 points inside and Kellogg added another bucket.