Ohio Men's Basketball Mid-Season Report Card

Maurice Ndour has been everything as advertised this season. - Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Halfway through MAC play, the Ohio Bobcats find themselves vying for position as a high seed for the MAC tournament, and are as capable as any MAC team of making a run in a postseason tournament (save those Rockets from Toledo).

Record:

15-5 (5-2 MAC)

Best Wins:

Road wins against Kent State and Eastern Michigan

Important Losses:

Akron in 2OT 83-80 and at home to Bowling Green 58-56.

Ohio got out to a slow start against the visiting Zips who have now handed Ohio three of their four MAC losses in the Jim Christian era. Maurice Ndour scored 25 points in the game but Nick Kellogg and other Bobcats failed to provide consistent offensive efficiency. Bowling Green gave the Bobcats the other loss in a lackluster performance in Athens. T.J. Hall led the way with 15 points in the losing effort as Kellogg and Ndour only combined for 22 points.

Best Players:

Maurice Ndour and Nick Kellogg

Ndour has averaged 14.7 points a game (14.3 in the conference) while pulling down 7.8 rebounds a game. He has undoubtedly been the most pivotal Bobcat in a season in which he has already exceeded expectations right away. Nick Kellogg has also improved his all-around offensive game while scoring 13.7 points per game in conference play while also contributing three assists per game in conference play.

Players That Need to Step Up:

Jon Smith and Stevie Taylor

Jon Smith saw a string of games in the non-conference where he played some of the best ball of his college career thus far. He contributed double digits consistently and pulled down boards every game. In MAC play, Smith has sometimes struggled to get near double-digit point totals. He is averaging 6.9 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game thus far this season. Smith has averaged only 5.1 points a game against MAC competition. Taylor showed flashes of remarkable scoring ability when he scored 21 in a 79-69 loss to the Buckeyes. Since then, he has struggled to find any sense of offensive rhythm and consistently takes bad shots. Better decision making and the game-winning shot against CMU is a good sign.

Glass Half Full:

Ohio defeated what was an RPI Top 50 team, Eastern Michigan, in Ypsilanti. For the most part, Ohio is taking care of business against the teams they should defeat (spare BG). Having two dynamic players like Kellogg and Ndour hitting their strides at the same time could prove lethal to MAC opponents. Players like T.J. Hall and Travis Wilkins have shown an ability to step and contribute on the offensive end. A new sense of confidence is radiant in both of these two's play.

Glass Half Empty:

Ohio has had its struggles finding a semblance of consistency in the first half of play of MAC games. In four consecutive games, in this case against Kent State, Akron, Ball State, and Northern Illinois, the Bobcats did reach 30 points by the half. Losing Ricardo Johnson for the year hurts, on the defensive end and in terms of offensive production. Javarez "Bean" Willis really has not played well, and has not met expectations within or outside of the program to any degree. Nearly losing to Central Michigan at home is not a bright spot either.

Next Four Games:

Toledo

at Western Michigan

Miami

at Toledo

Grade:

B-

Projection:

If Ohio takes a big win at home against Toledo, this could spell the beginning of a hugely successful run that could culminate in a MAC championship run in Cleveland. These are fairly ambitious hopes, but hey, the talent is there.

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