Akron is leaving Athens with an 80-68 win that can largely be accredited to a couple of obvious factors. Here are just a couple of those.
1. Battle between the bigs in the first half was entertaining
Antonio Campbell and Isaiah Johnson went after it down low. They did back one another down and took it right at each other. After 20 minutes both had 10 points. Johnson did so on 5-6 shooting. Campbell had 2 fouls at the break and went on to miss some early second half minutes. He was able to get back into things later on in the second half and ended up with 18 points and 12 boards.
"He's good. He knows how to use his size" Campbell said about Johnson.
Johnson finished the evening with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
"On a positive note, usually when (Antonio) gets in early foul trouble like that he kinda disappears and comes back. He played through that a little bit tonight," Coach Saul Phillips said.
2. JOSH WILLIAMS WRECKED
Williams' 13 points in the first and 7 in the second (a couple of which were in clutch situations) and helped Akron to the win. The freshman guard did this after having not scored in his last two games. So goes Akron basketball. Someone often steps up for this consistent program. His 7-8 shooting night on 4-5 from 3-point land led the way.
"He really saved us tonight because our normal 3-point shooters didn't shoot the ball really well," Dambrot said.
And it's true Jake Kretzer went 1-6 from deep and Reggie McAdams went 2-9 in the same respect.
3. Jaaron Simmons didn't succeed in first Akron game
It was Simmons' first game against Akron while playing for Ohio (a team that it and its fans consider to be a rival probably more so than the folks in Akron do). Though he made some nice passes and even missed out on some assists thanks to some missed gimmes around the bucket from several Bobcats. Simmons went 2-6 from the floor missed free throws on a night where the Bobcats made just 12-of-21, and turned the ball over 8 times.
Akron was disruptive of Simmons largely thanks to the choice to double Simmons off of ball screens.
"We haven't done much of it. But we've been beat up on some ball screens, and I think part of that is allowing teams to groove on what you do," Coach Keith Dambrot said. "So I just decided hey, it can't be any worse to take a double or two just to put some doubt in that point guard's mind about what's coming next."
4. Akron responded to Ohio spurts
There were several times in the second half where Akron responded to small Ohio runs. Akron did it early in the second half. The Bobcats pulled within three on a Treg Setty layup with about 5:00 to go but a Pat Forsythe layup extended it back to five. A Campbell layup made it three again but an Antino Jackson bucket and several Noah Robotham free throws put things at 67-61.
"Great offense beats great defense," said Treg Setty. "A lot of the shots that they hit were tough shots. They were contested, and we did what we were supposed to do on the plays."
Kretzer and McAdams made big plays down the stretch with tip-ins on back-to-back possessions with under 3:00 remaining to go up 71-62.
"We didn't do anywhere near good enough a job finishing the ball tonight," Phillips said. "Credit them, they flew around, made plays and we were a little cute with the ball around the rim and you end up on the wrong side of it."
5. No Freshman success from traditional Bobcat suspects
Though big man Doug Taylor played some consistent minutes when Campbell was in foul trouble, his defense on Johnson was the biggest freshmen contribution on the night. Gavin Block and Jordan Dartis combined for 7 points and hit only 2-7 from beyond the arc.
Treg Setty stepped up in a big way with 17 points and 10 rebounds but it was obvious that the 'Cats lacked something more from other guys.