Ohio may be the hottest team in the Mid-American Conference, and it proved it again Tuesday, defeating Central Michigan 83-69 at McGuirk Arena for its fourth-straight win.
The Bobcats (11-6, 7-4 MAC) have went from scrapping the barrel for eighth place to potentially contending for one of the top spots in the conference. That turnaround can be explained with several statistical categories that Ohio’s dominated in as of late.
Here are the numbers to know from Ohio’s road win:
Four clearly is the number of games that Ohio’s won in a row, but it’s also the consecutive number of times Ohio’s outrebounded its opponents.
After being doubled in rebounds against Kent State, Ohio made a promise to itself to take it personal and not let another team dominate them physically. Since then, Ohio hasn’t just outrebounded teams, it’s out-toughed them as well.
On Tuesday, the Bobcats beat the Chippewas in the rebounding margin 38-26. Jason Preston led the way with 11, but the entire squad is really keying in on that important stat.
In the last four games, Ohio has outrebounded Ball State, Western Michigan, Buffalo (who leads the conference in boards per game) and Central Michigan by a total margin of 163 to 127. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why the Bobcats are playing better. The Bobcats are still 10th in the conference in rebounds per game (34.0), but after averaging 40.75 the last four games, that stat might be very deceiving to upcoming opponents.
Six different Bobcats scored in double figures Tuesday, including all five starters. Jason Preston led the way with 17 points. Dwight Wilson was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field and contributed 14 points. Ben Vander Plas totaled for 13 points and was 75% successful from 3-point range (3/4). Sophomores Ben Roderick and Lunden McDay each finished the game with 12. Freshman guard Mark Sears gave the Bobcats 11 points off the bench.
Ohio’s offense is one of the best in the MAC, totaling 80.1 points per game. It’d be hard to stop the Bobcats on a bad night, let alone a night when the entire starting five is feeling it. Ohio shot an impressive 56.7% from the field, but struggled behind the 3-point line. Ohio’s six makes out of 25 attempts (24%) were well below the team’s season average (34.7%).
Jason Preston’s double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds) was the star of the show, but the scene that needed to be cut included 17 turnovers. The Bobcats haven’t turned over the ball that many times since their loss at Marshall on Dec. 13. Ohio’s only turned the ball over more than 17 times once this season, in its second game of the season against North Carolina A&T (21 times).
Despite the 14-point win, Ohio could’ve put the game away faster and won by a larger margin, had it taken better care of the ball. Central Michigan (6-11, 2-8 MAC) isn’t considered one of the MAC’s powerhouses. Bowling Green, Ohio’s next opponent, is. Ohio has lost its last three meetings against the Falcons, and if it doesn’t want to have its winning streak snapped at Stroh Center on Saturday, it’ll have to clean up those turnovers.