At first glance, it may seem like Ohio should have an easy win Saturday when it travels to Kent State.
The Bobcats (21-3, 10-3 MAC) are sniffing first place in the MAC East Division. The Golden Flashes are stuck in fourth place and have hovered around a .500 conference record.
But the last time the two teams met Jan. 16, it was anything but a close game. Ohio avoided an upset at The Convo in an 83-81 result and allowed 31 fourth-quarter points to Kent State. The Golden Flashes have won five of their last six games and will look to upset the Bobcats in the rematch.
Ohio will play its first game after its bye week, which included no Wednesday game for the first week since December. The Bobcats addressed offensive concerns on their off-week after they shot a combined 27 percent from the field in their last two games.
A resurgence from their offense will be needed if they want to maintain pace for a top 4 seed — which guarantees a first-round bye — in the MAC Tournament. The Golden Flashes have the No. 3-ranked defense in the conference, and the Bobcats recently lost to Miami and Toledo, who own the No. 1 and No. 2 defenses.
Kent State has played close games against Central Michigan and Miami, the current No. 1 and No. 3 seeds, respectively, but won over Western Michigan on Wednesday despite shooting an abysmal 33 percent from the floor.
Ohio could struggle against Kent State if it fails to fix its offensive issue, and the Bobcats will risk a fall from their current No. 2 seed with a loss, which would be their first to the Golden Flashes since 2017.
In the previous meeting with Kent State, Cece Hooks and Erica Johnson led Ohio with 22 and 16 points, respectively. The Golden Flashes were led by 22 points from Alexa Golden and 20 points from Megan Carter.
The Bobcats also forced 16 turnovers in that game, and if they repeat that performance, a win should be within reach. But in that same game, Ohio had 22 turnovers, a sure sign as to why the game was too close for comfort.
Bob Boldon will coach against Todd Starkey for the sixth time, and he’s 3-2 against Starkey since Starkey arrived at Kent State in 2016.
Game time: 2 p.m.
Venue: Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center
Meet the opponent
31 Megan Carter
24 Alexa Golden
03 Asiah Dingle
44 Lindsay Thall
05 Moriah Modkins
23 Ali Poole
32 Hannah Young
Individual Statistical Leaders:
Points: Carter (16.5 points per game)
Rebounds: Barber-Smith (6.3 rebounds per game)
Assists: Carter (2.4 assists per game)
Team statistical profile
Points per game: 66.6
Rebounds per game: 37.8
Assists per game: 11.0
Turnovers per game: 15.7
Field goal percentage: 37.8
3-point percentage: 33.0
Free-throw percentage: 74.2