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Ohio University Guard D.J. Cooper, 5, fights through two Mercyhurst defenders to go up for the basket during the Ohio University vs Mercyhurst mens basketball game on 11/07/11 at the Convocation Center.

Men's Basketball: New faces bring Ohio tough win

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect a clarification.

The final score might have been 82-63, but Ohio’s 19-point margin of victory did not come easily against Mercyhurst yesterday night in the Convo.

The Bobcats led almost the entire game and survived a late scare from the visiting Lakers, who cut the lead to three points with less than six minutes to play.

“My hat’s off to Mercyhurst,” Ohio coach John Groce said. “I thought for about half the game that they really played with a lot of toughness and a lot of energy, and I thought they were the hungrier basketball team.”

Ohio struggled with turnovers, including a stretch of five turnovers to start the game before registering an assist. The Bobcats finished with 11 assists and 17 turnovers.

“I thought we were an absolute sieve to start the second half,” Groce said. “Obviously that’s a concern because you’ve got to be able to play 40 minutes to be a good basketball team. We’re not there yet.”

Walter Offutt, Jon Smith, Stevie Taylor and TyQuane Goard all saw their first basketball action in a green and white uniform and contributed to Ohio’s win.

Offutt had a game-high 23 points and four steals, one of which came with 2:42 to go in the game that sealed the victory for Ohio.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve really stepped on the court and played a lot of minutes,” said Offutt, who has played for Ohio State and Wright State. “It felt good to get out there with my teammates and really contribute to the team and really help the team.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was the absence of D.J. Cooper from the starting line-up as Taylor got the start at point guard. After the game, coach

Groce said that Cooper was out for the first half due to a “violation of team rules,” and it was a coach’s decision that kept him out.

The Bobcats will open the regular season at home Sunday against Tennessee-Martin.

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