After hitting a long jump shot to only trail by three, Jaaron Simmons waved his arms, urging The Convo to get louder. On the following possession, Central Michigan’s Marcus Keene made an even deeper 3-pointer, he put a finger over his mouth and silenced the arena once more.
It was one of those nights for Ohio. Despite any chance at a comeback — and there were several — CMU would only respond with longer, tougher or more theatrical shots.
All told, the Bobcats lost 97-87 to the Chippewas on Tuesday night, but not for lack of defense, offense or anything for that matter.
Simmons, fresh off a career-high 38-point performance in Saturday’s upset win against Akron, was just as lethal. In fact, he was a rebound and assist away from a triple-double — 30 points, nine rebounds and nine assists — that would’ve been the first since 2011.
Jordan Dartis, his teammate, was also impressive, finishing with 21 points.
The only problem, though, was how great their opponents played.
Dubbed the highest-scoring guard duo in the country, CMU’s Keene and Braylon Rayson combined for a 62-point spectacle that included devastating shots over Simmon’s outstretched arms and 3-pointers so far out that even Dartis couldn’t help but shake his head in disbelief.
Keene, who entered the arena averaging 30.2, good for the nation’s highest scoring average, left Athens with 41 points. If he’s able to average 30 for the remainder of the season, he’ll be the first college basketball player to average over 30 points per game since Charles Jones from Long Island University. That was 20 years ago.
As for Rayson, he finished with 21. After him, no other Chippewas entered double digits.
Beyond Simmons and Dartis, Gavin Block finished with 15, while Kenny Kaminski had 14.
Perhaps tonight was a freak incident. In his post game interview, Simmons called with weird.
But Ohio’s chances at regrouping following Antonio Campbell’s broken foot are growing increasingly slim. Ohio (14-8, 6-5 Mid-American Conference) continues to slide in conference standing with the conference tournament a month away.