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Eastern Michigan Eagles vs. Ohio Bobcats men's basketball final: Campbell's big day leads Ohio to 86-64 victory

Antonio Campbell brought the pain in the first half while Treg Setty and Jordan Dartis did the squash job in the second. Ohio beat down EMU to win its fourth straight.

Antonio Campbell scored 24 of his 33 points in the first half of a 86-64 win over visiting EMU that turned into even more of a smackdown in the second half.

While this writer was turning everything that happened in the first half into Deadpool references, Campbell was having the game of his life. Campbell shot 10-14 and hit a trio of 3-pointers in the first half to put Ohio up at the break 40-31. He was being credited with more points even when he wasn't on the floor (referring to the 2-point shot that was changed to a 3-pointer after the two teams went into the locker room). He shot 14-20 on the evening.

"Scout team actually did a really good job of...trying to play their zone," Campbell said. "We practiced it. We picked it apart in practice. We did the same in the game."

"He (Campbell) was really a monster inside and posed a lot of problems for us," Coach Rob Murphy said.

Willie Mangum did about all he could to keep the Eagles in it in the first half with 15 points, but he cooled off in the second (19 points total).

Campbell had no issues finding weak spots in the Eagle zone, and Gavin Block was the man to find him more than a few times. Block had 9 assists despite sitting for chunks of the second half due to foul trouble. The Bobcats did a particularly good job of abusing EMU's uncharacteristically spaced out zone, and were able to find Campbell and Setty in the middle of the lane to limit its effectiveness. The following collapse of the zone created easy jump shot opportunities for Ohio throughout the night.

"I came in at the half and I told them just keep moving the ball the way you're moving it and you're going to go on a heck of a tear at some point," Phillips said.

Jaaron Simmons' influence was limited on the night, but thanks to Block's play it was hardly a big deal. Simmons posted 6 assists and just 3 points. The Bobcats tallied 20 assists on the night.

"Jaaron had his sights on trying to lead the nation in assists, he's going to have a hard time leading the team in assists if Gavin keeps passing the ball like he does." Phillips said.

Maybe most importantly to Campbell's success was his having not fouled anyone until early in the second half, and that came after scoring the first points of the second half on a bucket through contact and the subsequent free throw.

Things became a bit testy after a tie-up between Block and James Thompson resulted in a double technical early in the second half and the game took on a bit more of a fiery feel. Players were jawing back and forth and Thompson in particular seemed motivated by the encounter. Some buckets from the freshman gave EMU a bit of momentum back as Ohio continued to try and maintain its near 10-point lead.

Thompson scored 9 of his 11 points in the second half before his mental mistake cost the Eagles dearly. After a no-call on an EMU offensive possession, Thompson was called for another technical. It was unclear whether it was something directed directly at the official or if he just said a no-no. Either way he was gone. Jordan Dartis proceeded to knock down his free throws for the bonus and for the technical to give Ohio a 62-49 lead.

"James got a little frustrated tonight, he has to control his emotions" Murphy said. "He did get fouled a lot tonight, and some of them, well, most of them weren't called."

Ohio proceeded to pull out all the stops as Dartis and Setty scored 12 of the next 15 points from that point to extend the Bobcat lead to 77-58.

"It's hard to guard five guys on the floor who can all shoot 3's," Dartis said.

The 'Cats sunk 10 of their 23 shots from beyond the arc on a night when sharpshooting big man Kenny Kaminski was out after sustaining a head injury in the Buffalo game.

EMU ultimately just struggled getting stops as Ohio scored 1.265 points per possession. Tim Bond dropped in 14 points. Raven Lee sat for swaths of the game. he played 17 minutes and notched 6 points. The Eagles were outrebounded 42-25 as well.

"Things were going well and when we were good," Murphy said. "But as soon as they didn't go well, we kind of folded a little bit. And we can't do that. Especially on the road."

Ohio won its fourth straight and moved to 8-5 while EMU fell to 5-8 in the MAC.