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Jaaron Simmons looks for an open teammate during the Ohio's game against Northern Illinois University on Feb. 6 at The Convo. The Bobcats won the game 80-69. (FILE)

Men's Basketball: Ohio weathers Miami rally, extends win streak to 5

Ohio bested Miami on Saturday behind Jaaron Simmons' 25 points.

After a slow offensive tempo paced Ohio to a 23-point lead, a rally by Miami seemed unlikely.

A handful of RedHawk 3-pointers, with the help of seven second-half turnovers by the Bobcats, changed that considerably.

Ohio was forced to withstand a 25-7 second-half run by Miami to earn a 76-64 win in The Convo on Saturday. The victory is Ohio’s fifth in a row and seventh in its last eight games.

Miami hasn’t beaten Ohio (18-8, 9-5 Mid-American Conference) in The Convo since 2011 and hasn't in regulation since 2006.

“They shrunk the game down,” Ohio coach Saul Phillips said. “It’s what they needed to do, and it’s what I thought they would do. Our guys wanted to blow this thing open, and I think we got away from ourselves a little bit with turnovers.”

Miami showed an early commitment to shortening the game, milking the shot clock on each possession. Slowing play down proved to be an unsuccessful strategy, however, when the RedHawks failed to hit their shots.

Ohio opened the game with a 17-5 lead, hitting six of its first 10 shots while Miami hit just two of its first 10.

The Bobcats continued that dominance in the opening minutes of the second half, leading by as much as 23 at the 17:12 mark. Ohio began to show rust shortly thereafter, turning the ball over six times in nine possessions while Miami’s efficiency picked up on the offensive end.

As the two offensive paths began to diverge, the Bobcats saw a once-controlling lead melt away. Over a nine minute stretch, the RedHawks outscored the Bobcats 25-7 and shrunk the deficit down to as little as five.

When Ohio needed important shots, freshman Jordan Dartis was the one to step up. Dartis hit a pair of 3-pointers in a short time frame to breathe life back into the offense. After that, guard Jaaron Simmons was able to put the game away, scoring nine points over the final 2:03 of the contest.

“(Dartis) took the lid off the basket,” Simmons said. “We had six turnovers in a short amount of time and weren’t in a rhythm, so (Dartis) taking the lid off the basket was huge.”

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Simmons led all scorers with 25 points on 8-for-9 shooting from the field, including three 3-pointers. Junior Antonio Campbell was a catalyst finishing with 16 points and a career-high 20 rebounds. Freshman Gavin Block got the start for the second straight game and scored 14 points — 12 in the first half — with a pair of 3-pointers. 

Block was starting in place of usual starter Kenny Kaminski, who sat out for the second time because of a concussion. Phillips said he is “very optimistic” about his condition heading into Tuesday’s game at Bowling Green.

Miami came into the game shorthanded, with two players sitting because of injury and three sitting because of one-game suspensions.

With the win, Ohio moves to just one game out of first place in the MAC. Ohio will have a shot to take first place against Akron on March 1.

@_TonyWolfe_

aw987712@ohio.edu

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