Ohio will play Bowling Green for the first time Saturday in The Convo.
The real Bowling Green this time.
Yes, the Bobcats beat the Falcons on Jan. 28, but they bested a Falcon team that used football players to fill in four suspended players that frigid Saturday evening.
This Saturday, though, Bowling Green (11-15, 5-8 Mid-American Conference) will be at full strength against Ohio — even if most teams are banged up in the MAC around this time of the year.
“(We’re) beat up like crazy, man,” Ohio coach Saul Phillips said. “Everybody is at this point. Being beat up is nothing new around this time of the year, because everybody is. The difference is, with four scholarship players with season-ending injuries, your margin … you better manage that a little bit closer.”
Despite Phillips’ concern with his team’s overall health, the Bobcats have played some of their best basketball as of late.
Ohio (16-8, 8-5 MAC) has won three of the last four games and is 10-3 at home this season.
Their 82.5 points per game over the last four games is an improvement of their season average (77.7), as guards Jaaron Simmons and Jordan Dartis have set career-highs within the four-game stretch.
The two will be a factor Saturday, especially against Bowling Green guards Zach Denny (12.7 points per game) and Ismail Ali (6.8 points per game), who sat last time the two teams met.
“This is the first time playing Bowling Green realistically for us,” Phillips said Thursday after practice.
Saturday, and for the four remaining regular season games, Ohio will need to avoid defensive collapses citing the Bobcats’ opponents points per possession being 1.0 or higher in some games, Phillips said.
“Continued defensive growth is huge,” Phillips said. “We need to foul less. For some reason, we turn into a hacking machine.”
Phillips added that the likelihood Saturday’s 2 p.m. tipoff is postponed because of a recent Athens’ water problem is unlikely.