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Ohio Bobcats vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers Basketball Final: Ohio Cruises To An Easy 73-47 Victory

After last week's unimpressive performance against Marietta, the Bobcats opened the season for real by crushing Appalachian State thanks to strong team play.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, the Bobcats won their exhibition last Saturday against the Marietta Pioneers. But the first taste of Saul Ball for Ohio fans left something to be desired. As good as Marietta might be, they are still a Division III team; they are certainly not the type of team that should be opening a double-digit lead over a MAC East title hopeful.

So one could almost hear a sigh of relief from the 7,115 in attendance when time expired and Ohio sealed a 73-43 win over Appalachian State.

The Bobcats quickly jumped out to a 5-0 start and never looked back, benefitting from a well-rounded and balanced offensive attack that helped them find the open shot.

In a welcome change from last game (and from much of last year under coach Jim Christian) the Bobcats kept the Mountaineers from going on a run that could get them back in the game. Appalachian State managed no more than six unanswered points, and that came in the dying embers of the game after Phillips had pulled most of his starters.

Phillips said at the beginning of the season that he sees freshmen Mike Laster and Ryan Taylor as potential four-year starters and sure enough, both were on the floor at tip-off. Taylor had an especially strong performance, leading the team with 21 points and looking comfortable handling the ball at the top of the key. Taylor is not afraid to drive to the hoop, but also demonstrated his ability to shoot from beyond the arch, where he led the team with three 3-pointers. He was also on the floor more than any other Bobcat, having played 36 minutes. Right behind him with 35 minutes was fellow freshman Mike Laster, who added seven points, picked up five rebounds and forced a turnover.

Of course, there was plenty of support from Ohio's returning players. In his second (and final) home opener, Maurice Ndour notched a double-double, scoring 12 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. He also had a couple of big blocks. Sophomore Antonio Campbell scored 11 points, and bounced back from a rough performance against Marietta to record a quiet but strong defensive performance by holding the Mountaineer's Mike Kobani to just seven points. Wadly Mompremier also helped Campbell neutralized Kobani's equally-tall teammate Jacob Lawson, who was held scoreless. Lawson and Kobani combined for only 3 rebounds and the Bobcats completely dominated the post.

Chris Burgess and Tommy Spagnolo led the way for Appalachian State with 11 points each.

For the Bobcats, the difficulty ramps up from here. On Wednesday, Ohio travels to Fort Myers to face Florida Gulf Coast, whose program has achieved national notoriety for their recent NCAA Tournament success. In the next month, the Bobcats also face strong teams like St. Bonaventure and Belmont. This will be a change of pace from the usual breezy December schedule. With so many tough games in the coming weeks, Ohio needed to come out and handily beat a weaker opponent--and they did exactly that.

(Update: senior Javarez Willis missed the game due to a suspension for playing in a non-NCAA sanctioned tournament over the summer. Treg Setty also played in the same tournament and will miss the Florida Gulf Coast game because of it, according to Saul Phillips.)