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Dwight Wilson III, a graduate student at Ohio University, dunks the ball during the game against Western Michigan on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023.

Men's Basketball: Wilson drops career-high 31 in win over Western Michigan

For the second time in less than two weeks, Dwight Wilson III treated the fans at The Convo to a career night.

He set a new career-high with 27 points against Kent State on Jan. 13, then surpassed himself with a 31-point gem in Tuesday’s 88-76 win over Western Michigan.

“I’ve just been trusting in the work that I put in,” Wilson said. “Obviously, I had a longer offseason than most and I told myself ‘When I come back, I want to make more noise and be better than I was going into rehab.’”

Despite the fact that these two performances featured similar scoring outputs, shooting percentages and a lot of the same post moves that Wilson has used to devastating effect all season, they could not have had a more different impact on the games.

Against Kent State, Wilson scored 23 points in the first half, which allowed Ohio to take a halftime lead against the best team in the Mid-American Conference. But Kent State limited Wilson in the second half, and Ohio was unable to hold on.

On Tuesday, however, the Bobcats were locked in a tight struggle with Western Michigan at the half and Wilson had 11 points. He then put up a monster 20-point second half to help Ohio pull away and move to 3-4 in MAC play.

Time and again down the stretch in the second half, when the Bobcats were unable to get a stop on the defensive end, they went to Wilson in the post, and he made the Broncos pay.

He tortured Western Michigan’s front line all night, as the three players who were sent his way, Titus Wright, Markeese Hastings and Owen Lobsinger, combined for 10 fouls over the course of the game, four of them coming on Wilson in the second half, three of those on made baskets.

“(Getting opponents in foul trouble) just makes me keep going,” Wilson said. “I know that once I get them in the air, and I get contact, it’s pretty much a foul every time. Once I see that they will call it, I just stick to it.”

Wilson made 13-of-16 field goals Tuesday night, but none were more indicative of his improvement and importance to this Ohio team than his last three.

He hit a turnaround jumper in the paint, a shot that wasn’t in his arsenal a few years ago, to tie his career high, then lost Wright with a beautiful spin move for points No. 28 and No. 29. Finally, to finish off his first career 30-point game, Wilson set a screen for Jaylin Hunter, who then found him diving to the basket for a two-handed dunk.

“Dwight Wilson was a man today,” Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. “Just a phenomenal individual performance. Our guys did a great job of getting him the basketball in position to score, and he definitely delivered.”

Wilson has delivered all season for Ohio, from getting others involved with his passing out of the post, to clutch shots against Michigan and Youngstown State, to big scoring performances when Ohio needed them most.

Tuesday night was the latest excellent performance from Wilson, but if the Bobcats are going to separate themselves from the pile in the middle of the MAC standings, they are going to need it not to be the last.

Wilson is the most important player on Ohio’s roster, and he knows it.

“The better I play,” he said. “The better we are.”

@willocunningham

wc425318@ohio.edu

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