For a large part of 2018, Ohio's offense was incredibly inconsistent. And when the offense was consistent, it was bad.
But now, with just three games left in Mid-American Conference play, the Bobcats look to have — finally — found their stride on offense.
Ohio scored 88 points in an 88-76 win over Kent State on Tuesday night at The Convo behind a total team effort where six players scored in double figures. Jordan Dartis led the way with 20 points.
“When balls are going through to the hoop, everybody’s confidence picks up on both ends, that’s just how it works," coach Saul Phillips said of Dartis. "When he looks like he’s healthy and feeling good out there, that gives another spark to our guys.”
Dartis, while not only locking down Jaylin Walker on the other end of the floor, added a game-high six 3-pointers and almost outproduced Kent State's production from deep (six made 3's) himself.
But it wasn't just Dartis, which is where the stark comparison of the Bobcats has come into play over the last week. Teyvion Kirk added 17, Kevin Mickle and James Gollon pitched in 13, Mike Laster had 11 and Doug Taylor had 10.
“It’s definitely coming together," Kirk said. "We’re doing great on offense just getting everybody involved, making everybody a threat.”
Kirk was last held to single digit points against Maryland, back on Dec. 7.
“We work as hard as we can, given our minutes," Phillips said. "What you’re seeing is a better understanding how to run a team out of a freshman point guard. Boy, it’s starting to look pretty fun out there."
Now, though, it's not Kirk or Dartis by themselves. There's been added contributions from up and down the lineup which has led to the recent offensive outburst.
After a dud of a first five minutes against Toledo that ended in zero points, Ohio has been able to put strong offensive performances from the entire roster.
“TK just did a really good job getting to the paint, a lot of other guys did a good job getting to the paint," Dartis said. "We were cutting hard, our pass and catches were better than it has been, we’re more locked in on that.”
The offense catching fire couldn't have come at a better time, either. The regular season concludes in just a week and a half next Friday at Miami. Three days later, Ohio will play in the first round of the MAC Tournament. Whether or not that game will be played at The Convo or elsewhere could be up to the offense.
But the Bobcats' offense has an element of freeness to it that it didn't have before, with ball movement looking crisper and shots finally falling.
There's still time for it to go wrong, though. The trip to Buffalo on Saturday could be a perfect time for that. Still, the Bobcats' offense is showing signs of life and depth that it hasn't all conference season, something to monitor headed toward March.
"We’re edging toward being the type of team you don’t want to see in the tournament — in a hurry," Phillips said.