For the first 15 minutes of Ohio’s game against Florida A&M, it looked like it was going to be a close contest at The Convo. That was before Ohio came out of a second-quarter media timeout on a tear and turned it into a 98-45 blowout Monday night.
By the time of the media timeout with 4:57 remaining in the second quarter, the Bobcats (3-2) led by just two points, thanks mostly to the fact that they were shooting just 2-for-19 from 3-point range at the time. When their poor outside shooting was combined with sloppy turnovers and an inability to finish inside, the Bobcats were in a dogfight against the clearly outmatched Rattlers.
But Ohio coach Bob Boldon pushed the right buttons during the media timeout, and Ohio outscored Florida A&M 21-3 in the final five minutes en route to a 20-point halftime lead. When asked what changed, Boldon kept it simple.
“We made shots,” Boldon said. “We got to the rim, got some free throws and they only scored two points after that media timeout.”
The Bobcats extended their lead after the break as they overcame a slow start to blow away the Rattlers in the second half. For the rest of the night, they outscored the Rattlers 77-26 after that second-quarter media timeout, but that’s what the entire game should have looked like.
Ohio got off to a slow start, which was perhaps unsurprising given that it had been nine days since its last game.
“I think it kind of affected us,” senior guard Cece Hooks said. “Having nine days off and then playing a 7 o’clock game, I feel like it was kind of sluggish.”
The Bobcats certainly looked sluggish in the first quarter, and after jumping out to a quick 12-2 lead thanks to their smothering defense, they let the Rattlers get back into the game.
Ohio was sloppy in the first quarter, turning the ball over six times. In addition to the turnovers, Ohio also shot just 30% from the floor and 7.7% from 3-point range in the quarter. It was an ugly quarter overall, with the two teams combining for 12 turnovers and shooting 2-for-18 from beyond the arc.
For the first quarter and a half, the Bobcats looked like the team that had been blown out in the second half against Notre Dame and dropped a winnable game against Liberty. But after that second-quarter media timeout, they were back to looking like the team that had been picked to win the Mid-American Conference regular season title, had beaten Cincinnati on the road and had blown out Mercyhurst in their home opener.
There have been two different versions of this Ohio team so far this season, and as the schedule creeps toward conference play, it needs to figure out which one it is. Its record has now climbed above .500, and it has the ability to keep it there for the rest of the season.
The Bobcats have some issues they need to figure out before the conference season begins, but there have been enough flashes from this team that there is no reason to think they are incapable of becoming the juggernaut many thought they would be.