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Ohio Shakes Sloppy Start, Cruises To 71-51 Win Over Ball State

Ohio's offense came alive in the second half of a 71-51 victory over Ball State.

Ohio wins its second MAC game, moving to 2-1 in conference play
Ohio wins its second MAC game, moving to 2-1 in conference play

It was an another ugly bit of #LACKtion early on (hey, the term is going to catch on) as the Ohio Bobcats and Ball State Cardinals got out to a slow start in what was an eventual 71-51 win for Ohio.

Just for ugliness' sake, let us take a peak at a few of the combined halftime stats.

  1. 22 fouls
  2. 1-18 from 3-point land.
  3. 48 total points
That just tells part of the miserable first half. A flurry of missed opportunities around the bucket for Ball State compounded problems for the Cardinals. Ohio on the other hand couldn't pick up an offensive rhythm and only found success when driving to the basket.

Nick Kellogg and Maurice Ndour missed large portions of the first half while experiencing foul trouble in a game in which the refs were pleased to oblige what they must have assumed to be the desire of everyone to hear the whistle blown often.

Treg Setty assisted on each of Ohio's first two baskets, for the early 4-2 lead. The struggles began around this time as both teams played sloppy. T.J. Hall and Travis Wilkins picked up the slack though, combining for 15 points in the first 20 minutes. Hall finished with 13 points total.

Whatever Jim Christian said to his players in the locker room worked out as the Bobcats came storming out of the gates in the second half. Ndour scored Ohio's first five points of the half before a Hall block off the backboard led to a run out and a Stevie Taylor layup. After being in a close contest for the entirety of the first half, Ohio found itself up 34-23.
After trading a few buckets, Ohio got in a bit of a groove. The game was seven and a half minutes into the second half before Kellogg even scored his first points of the game (a jumper) and at the time it gave Ohio a 45-33 lead.

Things looked good for the Bobcats in this run. Travis Wilkins drove down the paint and finished an And-1 that he never would have had the confidence to make just a few short weeks ago. Wilkins finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds and four assists while contributing some hard-fought minutes.

Said Coach Jim Christian of Wilkins: "The one thing that has come out of Ricardo's unfortunate injury is that Travis has the chance to play more minutes so when you play more minutes you play more confident, so now different aspects of his game are coming out. ... He's starting to become a more complete player. Not that we're surprised, we see it every day."

Both offenses picked things up overall in the second half with Ohio scoring 44 and Ball State putting up 30. The Bobcats shot 46.3% from the field for the game, while the Cardinals shot a paltry 32.6 percent, including 3-18 from 3-land.

"In the first half ... we just weren't moving the ball up the floor and attacking," Christian said. "In the second half we finally got the ball advanced up the floor and we could attack some people and it got them spread out and we can drive it and we got some 3-point shots. "

Ball State did manage to win the rebounding battle 36-31, and picked up  a strong performance from Chris Bond with 14 points. Ohio held Majok Majok in check as the big man scored 4 points, though he did pull down 11 rebounds.

With the victory, Ohio picked up its second win in the MAC and improved to 12-4 (2-1 MAC) on the season. Ball State fell to 3-11, and is 0-3 in the MAC.

Ohio takes on Northern Illinois on Saturday at 8 p.m. in DeKalb, Ill., and the Cardinals host Miami at home on Saturday at 2 p.m. as they continue searching for their first MAC win.