One game into his college career, Teyvion Kirk is already making noise in more ways than one.
After beating Capital point guard Dan Auble to the hoop for a layup in the first half of Ohio’s 80-57 exhibition win Saturday, Kirk retreated to defense and clapped his hands — while giving Auble an icy stare-down.
For most of the Kirk/Auble matchup, the players exchanged verbal jabs and a few in-your-face celebrations.
“That’s shocking,” coach Saul Phillips said sarcastically after the game. “TK, he’s talking somewhere in this building right now. I don’t know to who or about what. But he’s talking.”
Kirk, a freshman point guard, showed right away why he’s a prime candidate for the Bobcats’ starting point guard position. He came off the bench Saturday, but played 22 minutes, which was fourth-most on the team, and chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and three assists.
“There was a moment where we actually went on a run and he was out there running the offense for us,” Gavin Block said. “So that’s a big step for him.”
When Jaaron Simmons left Ohio for Michigan as a graduate transfer in the spring, Kirk de-committed from Drake to join the Bobcats as a late addition to the freshman class.
Phillips already had an incoming freshman point guard, Zach Butler, and downplayed the thought of a playing time battle between Kirk and Butler all preseason. Against Capital, Kirk played twice as much as Butler and had more points, assists and rebounds.
“TK got a lot of run in the second half because we were good when he was out there,” Phillips said. “And don’t complicate it anymore than that, right?”
The exhibition game offered little insight into how Phillips will dole out minutes for next Saturday’s season opener against Alabama A&M and beyond. And Kirk wasn’t perfect — he turned the ball over twice by driving into a crowded key instead of finding an open player on the perimeter.
But Kirk’s competitive energy was obvious. If he had any first-game jitters, they didn’t show.
Phillips, who called him a “bulldog” and a “lead pipe,” hopes Kirk’s personality will be infectious.
“If your brother over here is gonna have that kind of swagger, you better have a little, too," Phillips said. "TK has never had to go to a self-image seminar. He’s pretty comfortable in his own skin.”
Correction: A previous version of the photo caption incorrectly stated the date of the game against Capitol. The photo caption has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.