Mark this down: Ohio’s best offensive stretch yet — maybe ever under third-year coach Saul Phillips — happened Monday night against Sam Houston State.
It’s not hyperbolic. It’s simply the truth.
The Bobcats hit nine of their first 12 3-pointers in the first nine minutes against the Bearkats, eventually blowing Sam Houston State out 98-75 in The Convo.
Ohio made 15 3-pointers in total, the second-best ever under Phillips.
“We can score with anybody in the country,” Antonio Campbell said. “Honestly.”
The Bearkats (1-1) came out of the opening tip immediately with a full-court press. It hardly mattered.
Ohio’s crisp passing, mostly from All-MAC guard Jaaron Simmons, dissected Sam Houston’s man-to-man defense. Ohio had 12 assists on 16 made field goals in the first half. It finished with 17 assists, as Ohio used most of its bench with seven minutes left.
“When I see all my guys hitting like that, I just continue to run different ball screen sets and make the defense think a lot,” Simmons said.
Jordan Dartis had 17 points on 4-of-9 3-point shooting. Dartis started his second season shooting 7-15 on 3-pointers.
Kenny Kaminski and Gavin Block joined in on the early fun, too, shooting a combined 8-for-9 for 28 points Monday. Four Bobcats had double digit points by the end of the night.
“Thank you, coach. Thanks coach for building a team, one through five, that can shoot,” Simmons said.
The Bobcats promised all preseason their offense would win them games. Monday proved that claim.
At one point, Simmons and company averaged 1.538 points per possession on 26 possessions. For context, St. Mary’s led the nation in points per possession with 1.378 as of Monday night.
“There are nights where a lot of things go right and tonight was one of those nights,” Phillips said.
Even after halftime, 45-30, the Bobcats never cooled off. Their swagger showed more.
Campbell had an 10-0 run — by himself —- in the opening minutes of the second half.
One play saw Simmons and Campbell perform their patented pick-and-roll, with Simmons gracefully hurdling a fallen Bearkats defender and finding Campbell under the basket.
Eventually, the two veterans earned some rest. Campbell was taken out with seven minutes to play and Simmons took a seat on the bench with nine minutes to play.
Campbell finished with 20 points and nine rebounds on 7-14 shooting. Simmons finished with six point and nine assists.
“I considered not playing (Jaaron), because his foot is still pretty sore,” Phillips said.
“We you want to have a team that is difficult to draw up a game plan to stop. And although we were really good last year, it seemed like if you focused on Jaaron and Tony, well then ...” he added.
Regardless, Ohio’s offense, and defense, are coming into full bloom.
“If you had a defensive stopper for the other team tonight, and you were trying to put him on the hot guy on any given point, you we’re switching him every three possessions,” Phillips said. “It shows the confidence guys have in each other.”