In a back and forth affair with a countless number momentum shifts, Ohio (13-7, 4-4) kept Kent State (15-6, 6-2) at arm's length and relied on its stars to carry it through.
Jaaron Simmons and Antonio Campbell faced some early foul trouble, but avoided fouls in the second half to help Ohio weather the storm and come away with a 72-61 nationally televised home win.
Kent State made it a point to assert themselves near the block on both ends, but Campbell worked through, around, and past Kent State near the bucket en route to a 28 point, seven rebound performance while Simmons finished just shy of a double-double with nine points and eight assists.
Campbell did most of his damage in the second half, scoring 22 of his 28 in the half, all thanks to a change in footwear.
"I went from some slippery shoes to shoes with some traction," Campbell said, donning a pair of glow-in-the-dark glasses post game.
You can get away with wearing glow in the dark glasses after a 28 pt, 7 reb performance. pic.twitter.com/9KJGazCpOh— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) January 30, 2016
Ohio head coach Saul Phillips credited Simmons with getting Campbell going through several pick-and-roll plays.
"In terms of being basketball smart, the guys did that on their own," Phillips said. "They have so much confidence in (Campbell)."
Campbell and Simmons finished as two of the few consistent factors in an otherwise wacky, sloppy, but oddly entertaining match-up, with an emphasis on sloppy early on.
Ohio and Kent State combined for 20 turnovers and a 33.9 percent from the field, cumulatively. Play was littered with turnovers and an inordinate number of traveling violations, but nevertheless, an entertaining half of basketball ensued.
Neither team played especially poorly on offensively, putting up make-able attempts as a result of passable ball movement, but the shots were not falling consistently. Both teams ripped off runs of at least eight points towards the end of the half.
Kent State's Xavier Pollard, who entered the game tied for second in scoring average, left in the first half after landing awkwardly on his foot. Head coach Rob Senderoff noted Pollard's loss was a tough one with the team's offense struggling so mightily.
"He's one of our leaders scoring-wise, physicality-wise," Senderoff said. "He's probably our MVP to this point."
Ohio's offensive productivity picked up in the second half to keep Kent State at bay. The Golden Flashes never fell out of the picture, but poor shooting continued and eventually doomed the Golden Flashes. Jimmy Hall shined, finishing with 23 points and 13 rebounds, but the team finished 22-of-57 (39 percent) from the field.
On the other end, Ohio outrebounded a physical Kent State squad 38-37 while finishing 27-of-64 from the field (42 percent).
The win makes it three out of four for Ohio and Phillips believes Ohio is trending up.
"The last few games have been a huge step forward for the maturity of this team," Phillips said.