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Ohio senior forward Maurice Ndour fights for a loose ball against Kent State on Saturday at the Convocation Center. 

Clock ticking for Bobcats after loss

After losing to Kent State, Ohio’s running out of time to find its identity before the MAC Tournament.

During Ohio’s loss to Kent State on Saturday, a Golden Flashes player was fouled while completing a dunk.

Before he stepped to the free throw line, he flexed both his arms and yelled while being mobbed by his teammates. The dunk and ensuing free throw extended a 15-4 run, during which senior guard Stevie Taylor said the Bobcats “laid down a bit.”

The Golden Flashes were physically tougher and more aggressive than the Bobcats during the 64-51 victory. Coach Saul Phillips acknowledged it but said that’s no excuse for his team tying a season-long four-game losing streak.

“We’ve got to get stronger over this summer as a team,” he said. “We’ve got to put on weight and not three meals at McHappy’s a day but weight, good weight; weight that will allow us to stand toe to toe with some of these teams. That doesn’t do us any good right now. You’ve got to play with what you have.”

Kent State (19-8, 10-4 Mid-American Conference) is currently the best team in the MAC and controls its destiny when it comes to winning the regular season title.

Ohio’s first loss to Kent State on •Jan. 17 extended a losing streak to four games. If the pattern from mid-January holds true, the Bobcats will win their next game Tuesday against Bowling Green.

And Ohio needs a win. Learning how to win is its main priority before the MAC Tournament begins in two weeks.

The Bobcats (9-16, 4-10 MAC) have already clinched a losing record overall and in the MAC. They likely will travel for a first-round MAC Tournament game at a campus site and will have to win in order to advance to Cleveland.

Although Ohio has been inconsistent throughout the season, it’ll have the same task as eight other teams come March 9. It’ll have an opportunity to make everyone forget about the regular season if it can win five games in six days.

Phillips said he and his team are frustrated with how the season has gone. Last weekend after losing to Miami, he called out his team for not supporting each other when things aren’t going according to plan.

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Taylor didn’t think the Bobcats were playing at the same level as the Golden Flashes on Saturday, so he took control by dictating the offensive tempo when he was on the court. He finished with 13 points.

“We all have to do our jobs individually, and that’s got to come together as a team,” Taylor said. “To be honest, we haven’t done that in awhile.

“We can’t hang our heads. We’ve just got to play.”

Ohio will play Bowling Green, Akron, Buffalo and Miami to finish the regular season. The Bobcats already have defeated the Zips and Bulls but suffered double-digit losses to the Falcons and RedHawks.

Taylor said the senior trio of himself, Javarez “Bean” Willis and Maurice Ndour need to get the Bobcats to “see the vision” and play collectively.

They are guaranteed five more games to lead their teammates. But that doesn’t mean their season can’t be longer.

“As long as there’s a scoreboard, jerseys, a ref, I can’t see why the hell you wouldn’t go out there and lay it on the line,” Phillips said. “So we get ready to play Bowling Green. So we turn the corner.”

@chadlindskog

cl027410@ohio.edu

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