Ohio continued its hot start to the season Thursday afternoon, securing an 84-72 Thanksgiving victory over North Carolina A&T in Champaign, Illinois. While the first half made it appear the Bobcats had their work cut out for them, they managed a strong second-half performance that kept the Aggies at bay.
Here are the numbers that mattered in the Bobcats’ win over the Aggies:
The Bobcats were off and running, putting a 12-point gap between them and the Aggies midway through the first half. A strong start by Jason Preston supported by Dwight Wilson kept Ohio on top and A&T struggling to keep up.
It was too good to last. The Bobcats began to slip, and 12 turnovers in the first half helped the Aggies chip away at the lead to make it a tie-game by half-time. A 21-8 run to begin the second half pulled the Bobcats ahead, and they never lost it.
Ohio had regained its double-digit lead and was not keen on losing it, and a 21-8 run in the middle of the second half set the victory in stone. The Bobcats closed the game with a 12-point lead, which they couldn’t maintain in the first half.
Ohio has shown strong discipline beyond the arc in its first two games, not wasting its opportunities and keeping a good shot percentage.
Roderick went 6-for-9 when shooting 3-pointers, accounting for 46% of Ohio’s completed threes Thursday. Following the sophomore were Preston, Miles Brown, Ben Vander Plas, and Jalen White. The Bobcats’ confidence from long distance is growing stronger by the game, and it will benefit them against Illinois.
A 45.3 shooting percentage is by no means bad. Compared to Wednesday, it’s just a bit of a letdown.
Although not as impressive as the 58.3% against Chicago State, Ohio is still shooting just above last season’s average. From Preston’s well-rounded performance to Vander Plas’ efficiency with rebounds, Ohio is making the best of what it is being given.
Coach Jeff Boals said after the victory over Chicago State that Ohio needed to clean up its turnovers before facing the Aggies. The 21 turnovers on Thursday show that Ohio’s biggest problem is already hindering its performance.
Thanks to 12 turnovers in the first half alone, the Bobcats blew a 12-point lead and were on the back foot heading into halftime. Tack on another nine from the second half, and it creates a glaring issue for Ohio.
Illinois won’t be as forgiving for that many turnovers. If Ohio wants to stand a chance Friday, it needs to clean up.
Friday’s game against No. 8 Illinois will be Ohio’s biggest test early in the season. The Fighting Illini are one of the best teams in college basketball and mopped the floor with Chicago State and North Carolina A&T earlier this week.
It’s without a doubt the Bobcats’ biggest hurdle this week, and likely all season. However, there is opportunity in staring down the No. 8 team in the land. If the Bobcats can go blow-for-blow with the Fighting Illini, the implications bode well for the remainder of the season.