Since returning from the Nassau Championship, the Ohio (5-3) offense has been inconsistent at best. For the second straight game, Ohio was held to 28 points in the first half in its 78-72 loss to Youngstown State (6-3). Ohio has averaged around 41% shooting from the field in its last two games and around 30% from the 3-point line.
Ohio's 28% shooting mark from the field in the first half was even lower than its previous output against Delaware when the team shot 31%. The Bobcats' offensive struggles were in part due to two field goal droughts to start and the first half. In addition to missing its first six shots from the field in the first half as part of a four and a half minute scoring drought, Ohio missed its final four shots of the first half as part of a nearly five-minute field goal drought to end the half.
Ohio's recent offensive struggles are partially due to a 'slump' former MAC All-Freshman guard AJ Brown is going through.
"Everyone goes through it sometimes, when you go through something like that you think too much," Boals said. "I thought he passed up a couple of shots. He (AJ Brown)'s struggling with his confidence right now."
After starting out the year shooting 15-22 from the field in games against Troy and Cleveland State, Brown has connected on 27% of his field goal attempts, including 17% from three.
Most recently, Brown scored three points against Delaware on 1-5 shooting while going 1-4 from the free throw line. Against Youngstown State, it was worse for Brown, who went 1-7 from the field. Brown picked up four fouls against the Penguins and played a season-low 14 minutes.
Ohio cannot be without Brown's talent and skill set if the team wants to make a run in March.
"There are a lot of other things you can do from a competitive standpoint, like defensive rebounding," Boals said. "We need him and he's going to be really good. He's just going through a slump confidence-wise that everybody who plays goes through so we got to help him get out of it.”
Ohio's offensive output against Youngstown State wasn't all bad. The Bobcats connected on their final 7-8 shots from the field, including 3-point jumpers from AJ Clayton, Aidan Hadaway and Brown. The offensive barrage came too late for Ohio when the team was already down double digits.
"I think there's only so much you can take from the last two minutes of the game," Ohio guard Jaylin Hunter said. "We were trying to speed up because we were down and they were playing keep away ... Making shots early is going to make us more confident throughout the game. So we just have to focus on making the shots early."