KENT — With Ohio up by one and time winding down, Kevin Mickle made a move toward the basket and let an open layup go.

The ball was 95 percent of the way in before it rang out to a Kent State defender. Golden Flashes' 7-footer Adonis De La Rosa made a shot on the other end, and the Bobcats' best chance to pull away fell flat. 

Mike Laster missed a fadeaway jumper just a few seconds later as Ohio lost 70-69 to Kent State on Friday.

Here are three things to take away from Friday's loss:

1. Turnovers and starting slow

Ohio's first half offensive numbers weren't pretty.

The Bobcats finished the half with 10 turnovers, five of them travels, and went into halftime trailing by nine. To coach Saul Phillips, the offense didn't have as much ball movement as he would have liked. 

"We looked like a different team offensively in the second half once we started taking care of the ball and played off the pass a little bit. Way too much dribbling in the first half," he said. "In the second half, the ball got moving and we were able to knock down some shots, and that’s what gets us to a seven-for-10 from 3 for the half."

Ohio finished with 14 turnovers on the night, a considerable decrease from the first half. The second half, however, was just a glimpse at what could have been for a full game.

Despite the improved half, the Bobcats still had trouble making shots down the stretch — they missed three shots in the final 1:08. Two of them were layups.

"We’re a team that is, unfortunately, still trying to learn how to finish games out," Phillips said. "Then we fall down on a high-low on the other end, give up a layup.”

Turnovers have been a major point of emphasis for the Bobcats recently, who have tried to cut down on them in recent weeks.

"Just be locked in a little better," Gavin Block said. "Just a little bit more focused, coming out with that energy. If we can take care of the ball, that’s how many more possessions where we get more looks?”

2. Zach Butler becomes a regular

With 6:22 to go, Zach Butler checked into the game. At the time, Ohio trailed by just six, 63-57. But the freshman had earned his spot on the floor in the game's most crucial minutes. 

Butler scored nine points in 17 minutes, his most minutes since Dec. 7 at Maryland (20) and his most points since Mount St. Mary's on Nov. 24 (12).

"I thought he came out a little timid at the beginning of the game, but once he settled in … we’ve got a team where if somebody is playing well, I’m going to keep him in there," Phillips said. "When he gets subbed out after four minutes, it’s usually after there’s been a run the other way."

Butler patrolled the backcourt with fellow freshman Teyvion Kirk, who was the leading scorer and rebounder with 17 points and seven rebounds. It was an exciting glimpse at the future for the Bobcat backcourt, but it also another added combination to Phillips' roster. 

He used Butler to defend against Kent State's quicker, speedier guards — another option for the young guard who has seen just 20 minutes in a game just twice in his collegiate career.

3. Gavin Block finds his touch

Phillips walked into the locker room at halftime and challenged Block, who had just two points at the break. Normally, one of the Bobcats' most consistent players, Block had registered just 17 points in his last four games combined. 

But in the second half, beginning with a jump shot just inside the 3-point arc, Block began to find his confidence — and his shooting touch — once again.

“(Phillips has) been challenging me the last couple weeks," Block said. "I haven’t been shooting the ball real well. More than anything, I just felt like I was letting the team down and not making open shots like I needed to.”

Block finished with 10 points, including two 3-pointers in the second half. 

With Block in his scoring slump, though, the Bobcats' offense has suffered. But in the second half, Block's newfound confidence and touch opened up an offense that desperately needed it. 

"I have to get some productivity out of him if I’m going to play him the minutes I’m playing him," Phillips said. "It helped — helped a lot, opened up everything.”

@Andrew_Gillis70

ag079513@ohio.edu

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