Men's Basketball: Ohio attempts to halt two-game slide against Western Michigan - The Post: Sports

Men's Basketball: Ohio attempts to halt two-game slide against Western Michigan

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Posted: Monday, January 18, 2016 5:54 pm

Ohio coach Saul Phillips didn't really care for the coined term "must-win" when asked about Ohio's matchup with Western Michigan that will take place Tuesday. 

After all, Ohio (10-6, 1-3 Mid-American Conference) still has 14 more conference games left in its schedule.

Ohio will attempt to halt a two-game skid Tuesday night in The Convo by playing an eerily similar Western Michigan team. 

The Broncos (7-10, 1-3 MAC), like the Bobcats, go into the matchup looking to find their footing within a relatively open conference. 

"Both very talented point guards, two balding coaches," Phillips said. "No, I've always admired the way Western plays. I have a long history with them going back to North Dakota State and I've always liked how hard (Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins') guys play hard and this group is no exception." 

The Bobcats come home after slipping up in the second half of their previous two conference losses. In an 89-82 loss to Kent State on Saturday, Ohio trailed by 16 at one point in the second half after only being down one point heading into halftime.

Against Bowling Green, Ohio was outscored 58-37 despite leading 38-33 at halftime. 

Sophomore guard Jaaron Simmons said the Bobcats want to "live at the free throw line" and that the Bobcats fouled too much on defense during Saturday's loss to the Golden Flashes. 

Western Michigan could be an antidote to those problems, as the Broncos rank near the bottom (10th, 74 points per game) in scoring. 

"We keying on defense, but that's an every day thing," Simmons said. "We just gotta lock in and sit down and guard. We gotta work as a unit, work like everyone is on one string."

Phillips said freshman guard Jordan Dartis will most likely sit out after Dartis suffered a concussion Friday. Dartis sat out Saturday during Ohio's loss to Kent State.

Dartis averages 10 points per game while shooting 44 percent from beyond the 3-point line this season.

"He will be cleared when he's cleared, it's really out of my hands," Phillips said. 

The Broncos will also be without a key contributor Tuesday: Connar Tava. 

Tava redshirted this season after the 6-foot-6 forward broke his right foot and had to undergo surgery, according to Tava was Western Michigan's lone preseason All-MAC selection. 

Western Michigan is coming off a win over Northern Illinois thanks to freshman Bryce Moore's 24 points in his first start for the Broncos. And if Ohio loses Tuesday, the Bobcats could be three games back from MAC leaders, Kent State and Bowling Green. 

So, is Tuesday's matchup important? Yes. 

Is it a "must-win"? For Phillips, it's not. 

"We need to win so we're feeling good about ourselves again, we need to win for our psyche," Phillips said. "We need to win to stay within some contact of the rest of the pack. But until it's tournament time and your season is truly done, if you lose, then you should be able to overcome any setback." 


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