Down 18 just five minutes into the second half, it looked as if the Ohio Bobcats were going to lose their second straight home game, something that does not happen often in Athens. But thanks to several spurts guided by the play of Maurice Ndour, Nick Kellogg and crew, the Bobcats won in thrilling fashion, 71-67.
Kellogg struggled from the field all night, hitting only 3-13 shots and going only 1-8 from beyond the arc. It was his free throws and a couple timely baskets in a productive Ohio spurt that helped aid the team to victory.
Coach Jim Christian said, "he shot 13 times and I want him to be aggressive, he needs to shoot the ball for our team, he just had a tough night." Christian also said about Kellogg "he attacked the basket very well tonight and he didn't settle. he just didn't finish some plays...He was aggressive, that's all I care about."
Maurice Ndour also poured in a couple crucial layups and knocked down free throws under pressure to help secure the victory.
Central Michigan Chippewa Chris Fowler scrapped all evening, scoring 19 points and adding four steals, but had to sit crucial minutes in the second half while in foul trouble. Ohio's defensive ball pressure ate up an offense that scored with ease to end the first half and to start the second half.
After a sluggish start in which both teams struggled as they neared 30 points in the first half, Central Michigan went on a 13-0 run to end the half, spurred on by the play of Austin Stewart who scored seven points in the final minutes. Central Michigan utilized the press to perfection as Ohio flailed about offensively, struggling to even get the ball past half court. Ohio turned the ball over nine times in the first half, compared to just four for CMU.
The Chippewas picked up where they left off in the second half, scoring on a Chris Fowler trey and a Braylon Rayson bucket to extend their lead to 38-25, and finishing off an 18-0 run.
Ohio responded in turn by battling back-and-forth with Central Michigan. Out of nowhere, Ohio jumped out on a run, scoring nine straight points, seven of which came from Kellogg. Ndour jumped into the fray, hitting a turn-around jumper and a layup right after a Rayson 3-pointer to make it 51-43. Ohio whittled away at the CMU lead over the next several minutes and finally tied things up on a Travis Wilkins triple that sent the Convocation Center into a frenzy.
To their credit, Coach Keno Davis' Chippewas scrapped to try and maintain a lead, going back and forth with the Bobcats for the last several minutes of the game.
T.J. Hall fought and clawed, driving for several late baskets down the stretch, while finishing with nine points on the evening. Stevie Taylor, who shot the ball smarter than he has in past games, hit a clutch jumper around the left elbow off the pick-and-roll with Jon Smith to put Ohio up 69-67 with 1:15 left in the contest. Taylor hit a free throw to ice it with 1.9 seconds left.
Both teams struggled from beyond the arc, with each shooting 5-21 from three. Central Michigan received consistent play from starters, four of which scored in double figures. Rayson added on 15.
Christian said: "We can't give up nine offensive rebounds in a half, you can't have nine turnovers in a half. They know it, we just have to keep correcting it."
Ohio finished 18-23 from the charity stripe, worth noting, as it helped them get the edge over CMU. Jon Smith added some hustle plays, picking up two blocks and four offensive boards, but struggled with mental mistakes, having the ball stolen from him after rebounds three times. Ndour, who had an impressive game, scored 21 on the night.
It was the second consecutive double-digit come from behind victory for Ohio, who pulled out a similar victory over Eastern Michigan on Saturday.