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2016 MAC Men’s Basketball Recap: Ohio Bobcats vs. Southern Jaguars

Ohio’s depth pushes them past Southern in season opener

Kenny Kaminski (Jan 12, 2016 Athens, OH) - Kaleb Carter
Kenny Kaminski (Jan 12, 2016 Athens, OH) - Kaleb Carter

Friday’s win was coach Saul Phillips’ favorite of the season so far.

Of course, the ever-snarky third-year head coach was just kidding about the team’s first game of the season, but with a game that saw the Bobcats bounce back from a somewhat disappointing performance against Rio Grande, the sentiment still stood.

Starting a season with heavy expectations, the Ohio Bobcats started out on good footing with a 77-67 win over the Southern Jaguars on Saturday afternoon.

After an exhibition match-up the previous week that seemed to leave more questions than answers, Ohio seemed to find an answer to most of their problems that haunted them against Rio Grande.

Kenny Kaminski, who went scoreless from the field in the previous weekend, shined from the floor on Saturday evening, scoring 14 points and pulling down three rebounds..

“My first game was kind of a fluke,” he said. “I feel like I did a lot better today. I had the first game jitters (against Rio Grande).”

He wasn’t alone in his big night.

True freshman Rodney Culver contributed off the bench with 9 points, three rebounds, and a 80 percent shooting percentage in 15 minutes.

Culver’s nine points were part of 15 points for Ohio’s bench. Coach Saul Phillips was going to his bench early as nine players saw minutes for Ohio. As a matter of fact, all nine players saw time in the first five minutes of the game.

“It’s exactly what I wanted to do,” Culver said. “As soon as I hit the court, I wanted to make an impact and let the other team know I’m there. Be a pain on defense, do what I can on offense.”

Still, Ohio victory still didn’t come without some faults.

Jaaron Simmons, usually the Bobcats’ offensive catalyst, struggled right from the opening whistle, as he committed three turnovers in the first five minutes of the game. He ended with six turnovers all together.

Foul trouble was an issue for Ohio, especially early on. Nobody fouled out for the Bobcats, but three players (Jordan Dartis, Antonio Campbell, and Simmons) had three fouls or more.

Despite the early foul trouble with Campbell, where he committed two early fouls in just 90 seconds, Ohio was able to overcome that disadvantage to their senior leader.

That was due to their depth.

Kaminski said that Ohio may be the deepest team in the country. Phillips grinned when he heard that statement, but he doesn’t doubt that the team’s depth is one of their best assets.

“I don’t live in fear of (Campbell) being out for a spurt,” Phillips said. “I don’t live in fear of Jaaron being out for a spurt. And that wasn’t the case last year. I think we’re reasonably deep.”

Even though the score was closer than OU wanted, it was a win and there is reason to be optimistic for the rest of the season.