Going into the game, the Bobcats were 4-0 at home, while the Milwaukee Panthers were 1-4 on the road. It’s safe to say most Bobcat faithful weren’t expecting much of a game. Well, they got one.
It looked promising early for OU. They took a 5-0 lead, then stretched it to 10-2, then 15-6. Everything was going according to plan. The Panthers made a little run, but at the 11:53 mark, the score was 21-12. Nothing to see here, most Bobcat fans thought.
2 minutes later, Jeremiah Bell made a layup for the Panthers to close the gap to 26-23.
5 minutes after that, Cody Wichmann made his 4th three pointer, to give the Panthers their first lead, 31-28.
The two teams battled the rest of the first half, with the Bobcats taking a 1 point lead into the locker room after an Antonio Campbell dunk. Along with the cheers, you could hear a sigh of relief.
The halftime stats were basically equal, just like the score. Both teams shot well, with Milwaukee shooting 46.7% from the floor, and 41.7% from three point range. The Bobcats were slightly better, hitting 51.7% from the floor, and 42.9% from 3. While the Bobcats held a 20-12 rebounding edge, the Panthers had 5 steals to zero, making it basically a wash.
The OU faithful were optimistic that the Bobcats would pull out the blowout in the second half. The Bobcats then proceeded to tease it the rest of the way. However, the Panthers had other ideas. Every time the Bobcats would make a run, the Panthers answered to make it a one possession game.
Up 55-53, with 7:59 to go, potential disaster struck. Antonio Campbell picked up his 4th foul.
The Panthers were unable to capitalize in the next 2 minutes while he was on the bench.
Back in the game with just under 5 minutes to play, Campbell played like a man possessed. He scored a bucket, picked up a rebound and scored another bucket with a chance at a three point play in short order.
Having watched basketball for a million years, and a keen observer of momentum, I realized this could be huge for the Bobcats. He then missed the free throw and promptly fouled out.
Disaster, or so I thought.
Doug Taylor, Gavin Block and Jaaron Simmons made plays, and OU pulled out the win. I could say a last second three made the 71-69 score closer than the game indicated, but that wouldn’t be accurate. Milwaukee fought their hearts out.
Aside from fouling out, Campbell ended the night with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Jaaron Simmons added 14 points, most in the second half, 5 rebounds and 9 assists. Doug Taylor added 8 points which were huge in giving the Bobcats the victory. I wouldn’t say the Bobcats climbed on the back of Taylor and he led them to victory, but he contributed off the bench at some opportune times.
The Panthers were led by Cody Wichmann, who scored 15, all on three pointers. Their bench played well, scoring 26, led by Bryce Barnes, a 5’11” freshman out of Chicago.