As much as he trusts his starters, coach John Groce must love putting Stevie Taylor, Nick Goff, Kenny Belton, David McKinley and Ethan Jacobs on the floor at the same time.
That lineup means life is good for the Bobcats.
Ohio ran away from visiting Marietta College en route to an 88-54 victory Wednesday night at the Convo.
The geographically close schools had not met since 1985, but the Bobcats continued their long history of success against the Pioneers. Ohio is now 74-18 against Marietta and has not lost a game in the series since 1960.
The Bobcats opened with explosive play at both ends of the court. They built a 28-3 lead in the first eight minutes of the game, and the Pioneers never got within 20 points for the rest of the game. Marietta trailed by at least 30 points for all but 33 seconds after halftime.
“I think the biggest thing would be the start of the game and how ready we were to play,” Groce said. “I thought that was good coming off a five- or six-day road trip. We were ready to play. I think the beginning of the game really kind of set the stage.”
D.J. Cooper led all scorers with 15 points in only 20 minutes on the floor. Starters Nick Kellogg and Walter Offutt also finished in double figures.
But Ohio got most of its production off the bench. The Bobcats finished with 44 bench points, led by Reggie Keely’s 13. Keely added seven rebounds, two blocks, two assists and a steal. He had only one personal foul and no turnovers in the contest.
Ohio’s subs logged more minutes than its starters. For the first time this season, all 14 players saw time on the floor.
“This is the deepest team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Groce said. “We have a tremendous bench. Those guys have worked hard to embrace their roles.”
The Bobcats (8-1) are off to their best start since the 1969-1970 season. Under legendary coach Jim Snyder, that team won a MAC championship after opening the season by beating four Big Ten opponents.
Groce said his team prepared to face Marietta (6-2), a Division III squad, as it would for any other team. Practicing well and respecting each opponent is part of the process that has led the Bobcats to five straight wins and 11 in a row at the Convo.
“I think the biggest lesson is being mature enough to play each game one game at a time,” Groce said. “The biggest thing is to continue to honor the process.”
Ohio will visit Wright State Saturday. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.