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Ohio’s Dwight Wilson III (#4) dunks the ball during the Ohio versus Purdue Northwest game in The Convo on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020.

Men's Basketball: Confident second-half hands Ohio 92-72 win over Purdue Northwest

Dwight Wilson III flew down the court, jumped up and slammed down a dunk after a turnover by Purdue Northwest. The Bobcats on the bench simultaneously sprung from their chairs and busted out cheering. 

It was the start to a 56-point second half that led to Ohio’s 92-72 victory over the Pride on Thursday at The Convo.

The Bobcats (4-1) had to let off steam. After a first half full of sluggish offense and missed 3-pointers, Ohio trailed by four to Purdue Northwest.

Not Purdue. Purdue Northwest. A Division II affiliated campus of Purdue was beating Ohio in the first half. Shots weren’t connecting, and that allowed the Pride to keep in lockstep with Ohio and swipe the lead late in the first.

For the first time this season, Ohio fumbled out of the gate. 1-for-11 on 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes pulled the Bobcats down, and the energy was largely absent.

“I’m not a big yeller or screamer,” Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. “Maybe way back in the day maybe, but I think with where we were, guys were frustrated. The shots weren't falling.”

Instead of a hyperactive locker room, Boals and his players remained calm. They all knew what had to be done. 

Ohio’s underclassmen got some more experience before conference play. Freshman Sam Towns made his first career start in place of an injured Ben Roderick, and sophomore Miles Brown scored a career-high 11 points and played 28 minutes.

Brown became Ohio’s invaluable asset Thursday, acting as the energetic and defensive core in the second half. Nine of his 11 points came after halftime, and his three steals knocked the Pride off their rhythm at critical moments.

“(Brown) and Lunden (McDay) are probably our two best on-ball defenders,” Boals said. “I think even this year offensively, Miles is more comfortable. He's making more threes, and he really works at it and he always puts the time in. He's gonna be a big part of our wins moving forward.”

The offense followed Brown’s example and soon took off. The only starter to not finish the game with double-figures was Towns (two points, two assists), and Jalen White was the only Bobcat who didn’t score. 

Meanwhile, Jason Preston continued his warpath. The junior managed a double-double against the Pride with 22 points, 11 assists, five steals and shot 10-for-15. The second-half leadership by Brown and a rally by Ohio’s offense almost caused Preston’s performance to be overlooked. Not due to neglect, but regularity. His stats Thursday have almost become run-of-the-mill for him in his strong start to his third season at Ohio.

“Hopefully, we don't take him for granted,” Boals said of Preston. “It's almost like he needs to play like that every game, you know? He's a guy that you know what he's gonna bring in. When you need a bucket, he's gonna get a bucket. When he needs to get somebody going, he’s going to get somebody going.”

Ohio has been dead set on keeping itself in check this season. If Boals and his players know they aren’t playing to their potential, they can turn a performance around on a dime. What remains to be seen is if they need to keep rallying at halftime from rough starts.

@thejackgleckler

jg011517@ohio.edu

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